War rages, CO2 emissions continue to soar, people rush from stress to stress …

and yet here am I at my singing lesson. At the beginning I thought it was self-indulgent to spend an hour bettering my voice, and maybe it is. Later I learned about how important singing is in maintaining health, both physical and mental. Then I discovered the depth of artistry involved in learning to sing really well.

I have always loved stories, whether I was reading them to the children, immersed in a novel, watching a play or a movie. My sister used to most wonderful stories about Marguerite and Parapluie who went on adventures to alternate realities via a portal in the sandpit. I have continued the tradition by telling stories to my own children (but not about talking French umbrellas). Now I am discovering the depth of meaning words can gain with the addition of a musical phrase.

I have been inspired by the composer Elaine Hugh-Jones, who set poems to music by learning the poems by heart then playing the piano until the phrases of poetry hung above the piano. I have learned that learning to sing never ends, because every song requires not only different technical abilities, but knowing how to use the voice to paint with different colours.

The more I learn, the more capable I am of comprehending the wonder of the human voice. There is so much more pleasure in listening to a song, as I can see the colours more clearly like sunshine on rain revealing a rainbow.

We need music in our lives, and it is possible to have it there to listen and dance to. However, with a little study and attention, we can open the door to another world, either for others through performing the story of a song, or through informed listening, for ourselves.