Middle 8

Fifteen seconds of magic;
The very best part of the song…
You can’t help yourself
From forming the shape of the lyrics with your mouth,
Every letter ingrained into your memory

Whether you step along in time-
Buds tucked in ears stream the sound,
Midst other legs striding to different beats and different paces,
Dodging raindrops, swallowing the sunlight;
Or the pulse jars your bones and thumps as hard
As the swell of your heart,
In the electric atmosphere of live, echoing sounds.
Wherever you are, you are immersed
In the music, in the moment of infinity it creates-
Thoughts charged with possibility.


How I Cope With Stress: Exams

It’s the night before an important event: a big exam, a major presentation, your wedding. How do you calm your nerves in preparation for the big day?

I’ve had a lot of nerves to cope with this year: 21 exams, a speech at prom to around 250 people, doing a summer program with new people I’d never met before, starting sixth form. So, I can say that I have developed a few different ways of coping with stress the night before. Most of these ideas are for during an exam season.

For each exam, I would compile a summary of all the notes at least a week before the exam, and I would spend no more than half an hour reading through these notes the night before the big day. This seemed to reassure me that I had learned everything, as each point I went over I would think ‘oh, I know that!’. Any more reading would make me worry and panic that I hadn’t revised enough (when I REALLY had!).

I must admit that I didn’t do this enough, but going for runs or walks really helps to physically deal with nerves, or any negative emotion. I don’t have a bike, but bike rides are just as good for you. Don’t overdo it, though, 10-15 minutes a couple of times a week is fine.

Staying healthy always helped me because it gave me a positive attitude, which made me more confident in myself. So, I like to have smoothies and try to stick to 5-a-day. A lot of people my age don’t have breakfast, and it is something I still struggle with, but forcing myself to eating something, anything, rather than nothing at all often helps. Attempting to do exams or the like running on no energy is going to be really hard, so I think this is one of the most important tips.

But, in terms of the night before, eating a filling dinner means you’re more likely to sleep well. A treat like chocolate or biscuits can’t hurt either, and is a nice comfort to help relax. I usually go for cheesecake, ice cream or Oreos.

A long bath soak with a book or music, or both, always seems to help me. I usually do this before I go to bed because I feel relaxed so I’m less likely to stay up worrying.

Doing something you enjoy can distract you from nerves. Personally, I write in my journal or a blog post, watch youtube videos or TV, read and listen to music.

I learned that during the exam season, you have to be selfish. Friends become a lower priority, and that’s ok because you have plenty of time in the holidays to make up for not seeing them as much. My advice is to avoid social media, especially Facebook the night before an exam. Talking to people in the same situation can stress you out more if they are struggling to cope. Also, don’t feel like you have to reassure everyone else; just focus on yourself. This is what I mean about being selfish. It’s not being mean, it’s just allowing yourself to do the best you can, which is what you deserve.

Though, if you’re feeling so nervous that it’s making you upset you must talk to someone. Let it out to a family member, teacher or a friend. Make sure you don’t suffer in silence if nerves are severely affecting you.

Getting a good night’s sleep is often really hard to do because nerves keep you up, but it’s vital to do well the next day. So, some light exercise like I mentioned is good to wear you out a bit, so you’re more sleepy. Then, I like to listen to music for a while and read in bed. It’s very tempting, but going on phones or laptops makes you less likely to sleep because of the white light. If I want to do that, I try and finish browsing the internet or whatever earlier in the evening. I read until I feel pretty tired and then I turn off the light and try to go to sleep. If I’m honest, this doesn’t always work and I lie awake for a while. But reading before is better than spending hours lying awake, stressing about the next day.

Often thoughts that keep you up at night are negative and depict the worst case scenario. Tell yourself this and focus on something else. I usually try to imagine a happy, peaceful scene, like an ideal holiday or an event I’m looking forward to.

I hope this helps anyone with a big day coming up!

The Carol Concert

Writing 101: Your Voice Will Find You

Every year it’s at that perfect time. Close to the holidays, when you know the weight on your shoulders is beginning to ease away. When you can feel the excitement of that one special day creeping up on you.

When you enter the church, it’s cold. But as you gather in the pews, packed with parents, teachers and students, the warmth finds its way through the layers of thick coats and wool. Soon the buzz of chatter is silenced by the angelic orchestra. Each instrument sings beautifully to the echoing walls and crevices of the vast ceiling. People look up at the architecture in wonder. It hasn’t changed since last year, but is still as magical.

Like a child again, listening to a bedtime story, the gentle low voice reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ is a lullaby. From your trance-like state you are awakened by the passionate finale. The soulful voices fill the space beyond the ceiling, beyond the eager ears of the audience. United with the orchestra, a new, vibrant sound is formed; so powerful that goosebumps appear not just from the chill of December. And the smiling faces are reflected in the audience with hearty applause.

Without those moments of joy and infinity, what would Christmas be? The real meaning of this profit-making, money-gulping time is making meaningful memories, of happy times of togetherness that can only be created in frosty December. Music has the power to do such things; take it away and Christmas isn’t the same.

3 Songs, 3 Stories

Today, celebrate three songs that are significant to you. For your twist, write for fifteen minutes without stopping — and build a writing habit.

My first song is ‘Hurt’ by Johnny Cash. This song represents the really rough period I went through last year. While I was struggling with my emotions, trying to express them and just trying to get through every day, this song would remind me of my brother. It would make me forget all of the anger and pain that he caused, and I would just miss him. I would remember the way he used to play it on his guitar in his room, not realising that I was listening. Because of everything that has happened, it is still hard to listen to without feeling upset.

‘Iris’ by The Goo Goo Dolls is just one of those songs that you can never get tired of. It reminds me of so many things; of my childhood, of the long car journeys to my dad’s house, of the struggles of secondary school and trying to work out who I am. If I could sing really well, I would just belt it out because it has so much feeling to it.

And then, there is ‘Love Story’ by Taylor Swift. This means a lot to me because it reminds me of the first stages of growing up, from when I was eleven and every day I would sit in my room and listen to Taylor. It helped me when I was bullied, because she was so easy to relate to and sings like ‘The Best Day’ proved that eventually things would get better. It was her first massive hit in the UK and ever since then, I have always loved her and her music.



I thought, since I was on the topic of music, I would write a list of my current favourite songs. When I think back to only a couple of years ago, my music taste has changed a lot. And I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few years I look at this list in disgust. But here goes…

(P.S. these are in no particular order)

  • I Miss You by Blink 182
  • Place For Us  and Pull Me Down by Mikky Ekko
  • Lullabies by Yuna
  • No Surprises by Radiohead
  • Casper by Russian Red
  • Happy Little Pill by Troye Sivan
  • Half The World Away by Oasis
  • The Middle by Jimmy Eat World
  • Landslide by Fleetwood Mac
  • human by Christina Perri
  • Shake It Off and Stay Stay Stay by Taylor Swift (Judge me, I don’t care!)
  • Friday I’m in Love by The Cure
  • Delicate by Damien Rice
  • Chandelier by Sia
  • I Won’t Let You Go by James Morrison
  • There Is A Light That Never Goes Out by The Smiths

I’ve also been listening to Spanish music as I’m studying A level Spanish. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Beyonce 1) can sing in Spanish and 2) has recorded a few of her songs in Spanish. I must admit that I did listen to Libre Soy, The Spanish version of Let It Go from Frozen…

What do you MEAN?

Here I am, listening to sad songs.

I’m secretly laughing to myself, because I feel like such a stereotypical teenage-emo-kid. I’m really not, honestly!

I like music that has meaning. The real, gritty kind of emotions that can only be expressed in this way, just like the meaning in writing and art. To me, it’s beautiful, even if it’s an angry song, because it’s so genuine.

You can easily get lost in music because of this; for getting tangled up in the artist’s story, their life and their emotions. I like that. I still wish I was less terrible at playing music, because if I were able to bring out the feelings music does in me in someone else, it would just be amazing.

Also, I like the way that music is not just an escape, but an outlet. You can embrace your sadness with a slow sad song, anger with an angry rock song, and it’s okay.

I feel like music transforms the power in the words of the lyrics into something even more beautiful because of the sincerity in the notes. It gives the words life, and-in a way-more meaning.

But before you can do all that, you have to write a kick-ass song, be able to play it and be able to sing! I think this is the first time I’ve been listening to sad music and felt such powerful emotions about my love for music. Usually, all I can think about is my own problems, as I relate them to the issues the singer expresses.

So, I just want to commend all musicians, because I think a world without music would be tragic.