This post was written by Digital Media Mentor Ella Morton, who attended our Digital Media Mentoring Program Music Memoir Dorkshop.
“I was chasing something. I thought a part of me was missing, and that I’d find it if I went looking. But when I came home, I still felt that there was a scrap of me elsewhere; floating; undiscovered.”
That’s a teeny tiny snippet of something I wrote at the Digital Media Mentoring Program Audio Memoir workshop, or “dorkshop”. It was written in response to a seemingly low-key prompt: What was the first music you bought or downloaded?
At first, I didn’t have an answer. Then came a memory from when I was fourteen: a Bush CD arriving in the mail, ordered from the internet when the internet was still a novelty and online shopping was considered dangerous. I remembered, a little sheepishly, my obsession with this band. I thought of listening to their songs as I stared out bus windows wondering what the world was all about.
I started typing. First a few scattered memories emerged, then they formed themselves into a story. As I typed furiously, I occasionally glanced over at my mentee, Lisbett. She was also typing non-stop, caught up in the memories that her song had evoked. A silence descended on the room: every mentor and mentee was focused on writing. I envisioned a big cloud above our heads filled with memories jostling for attention.
Later in the dorkshop we practiced adding songs to audio interviews and realized how important music is for setting a scene and conveying a mood. I looked up these songs I used to play on repeat when I was fourteen and listened to them for the first time in years. Instantly I was transported back to adolescence and its swirl of frustration, rebellion, and yearning.
At the end of the session, we shared parts of the music memoirs we had just written. We heard about family road trips, music-enhanced gestures of romance, and concerts where crowds of strangers were united in song. Listening to these stories, it didn’t matter what style of music people were talking about, or whether I knew the bands they mentioned. The music had provided a path to these wonderful, vibrant memories — memories that we keep safely locked inside songs without even knowing it.