Crossing Boundaries with Music
Georgia goes through her time in Spain and says how the mix of international music tastes really made her year worthwhile!
Nothing can touch the gift that music has to bring people together, which is something I experienced more than ever during my placement year in Seville. I lived in a house of twelve people from more than six different nationalities, from Brazilian to Italian to German, and right from the start, we found we needed something that would easily connect us, despite the language and cultural barriers. We would help one another translate lyrics, and share our playlists with each other, delighting in the songs that we had in common.
I remember vividly my joy at putting on Lily Allen in the living room, and my French flatmate bursting in, singing every lyric perfectly with his entire chest
Being English, I had to accept my advantage: I spoke the common language amongst my friends after Spanish. Most of them would want to learn English songs and would go to me as the source of knowledge, but every so often I would be surprised at the popularity of certain songs and artists amongst non-English people. I remember vividly my joy at putting on Lily Allen in the living room, and my French flatmate bursting in, singing every lyric perfectly with his entire chest.
I also found that songs could become important memory markers. One warm evening in October, I was sat by the river amongst a group of friends, some of whom had grown up in Seville. There I was introduced to the song ‘Sevilla Tiene un Color Especial’, which was played out of a speaker someone had brought along. We all got up and jumped around to it, celebrating the city and the happiness we felt in that moment. In the present time, the song not only encapsulates the love I have for Seville as a whole, but with each listen transports me to that moment by the river that I want to hold on to forever.
During the year I worked as an English teacher in a large secondary school on the outskirts of the city. Despite my job being to share my culture with the pupils, they were equally as eager to share their lives with me. Through this, I learned that Flamenco music was still deeply embedded in their upbringings; many of the girls had a collection of Flamenco dresses for each day of the Feria – the festival that happens in the city every April – and the pupils seemed to have a natural ability to clap and dance to the Flamenco rhythms that, to me, were so difficult to follow (I ended up enrolling in Flamenco classes for this reason). I found myself envious of this part their shared culture – I struggle to think of something in English historical tradition that brings children together in the same way.
In an unexpected turn of events, I ended up writing some of my own music in Seville. A friend and I would walk around with his guitar and plant ourselves in different parts of the city – the river, the park, a bench in a square. It helped us explore Seville in a more intimate way, and I found that opening up through creativity was sometimes easier than expressing myself in words.
I have much to thank music for. In the different challenges I faced throughout the year, from making friends to immersing myself in a new culture, I learned an important lesson – music will always be there to make creating a connection a little less daunting.
Edited by Ryan Gerrett