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Tom Hingley’s Reflections

This week blog’s reflects on the recent Tonic Music episode featuring the musician Tom

Hingley. Tom spoke at depth about his experiences and how he views mental health

within the context of navigating our own agency and choice.


One thing that struck me with Tom’s whole journey was the way he still holds a passion for his musicking after a 47-year career. His musical journey has taken him through various bands and solo adventures, major, independent and DIY releasing.


It always invigorates me to talk with musicians who have come through such a multicoloured musical history and still remain passionate about writing, recording and performing their own and others music. There have been times when I have felt dismayed, disappointed and redundant in my own musical career yet there is an almost internal force, a deep inner need to music. To create, play and show this musical venture to others that will listen and join my journey.


The sheer number of hours on the road, the band inner tensions, the media intrusion, the record label struggles, the good and the bad can throw enough dirt at the potentially magical experience to put us off for life, yet we return again and again. That takes sheer resilience and determination. I think many don’t quite understand this. it’s an area I am passionate about within the ‘musician’s mental health’ industry which has crept up over the past five years. This new industry can often overlook the actual musician in a similar way to the music industry. I guess it can similarly be quite a lucrative endeavour.



As a caveat and a challenge to often spun narrative of struggle, Tom’s interview resonated with my own research findings. Especially one theme in particular identifying how professional musicking can facilitate and develop resilience and grit through the music industry’s notoriously difficult pathways. Somewhat paradoxical in that it both challenges us and prompts us to develop a tougher skin to face future adversity.


For example, we need to develop a way to overcome the potential stress of getting up on stage in front of 5, 500 or 5000 people. This is no mean feat, and it’s no wonder performance anxiety is so prevalent within this demographic. But, on the other hand, being able get through performances and deliver does foster something within us. Behaviourally we can internalise this success as a personal achievement and in our own way promote greater self-confidence through the resilient skills acquired.


In Tom’s case he also mentioned how his own resilience and mental health was helped by acknowledging his position as the ‘author of his own story’ and taking ownership of his internal process. In the interview he mentions how he found it helpful to not put the blame on others through mindful practice and self-reflection and how he (or we can contribute) to our own distress. As Tom suggests ‘Playing music can be a liberation, music playing can bring mindfulness, put you in the zone, what happened in the past and what might happen in the future.’


This inward focus and the liberation of playing and writing music has helped him and others in times of struggle. As an example, he has recently recorded an album with a musical friend which was used as a conduit to process grief and life meaning through the cathartic nature of song writing and the completion of an album. Click here to order the album.


Although in these examples, music has been helpful, Tom also spoke about how certain types of music can prompt rumination and difficulties suggesting how we ‘have to be careful with it’.


From the interview it is clear just how much Tom is able to clearly articulate how music has both been problematic and a valuable asset throughout his mixed career from solo to band. For more insight into the trials and tribulations of a musician (first hand) you can listen back here.



 

Adam Ficek hosts a monthly show 'Tonic Music' on Totally Wired Radio, where he talks to various guests about music and mental health. You can listen again to any of the previous show on the Tonic Music Mixcloud page.


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