One of our amazing horn players, Robyn Blair, took on a huge challenge to raise £2,000 for us: a sponsored silence for the entire month of June (excluding sounds through her horn)! We're so impressed with her efforts to raise money for us and would love it if you feel able to donate to this astounding project. Below are her reactions to the sponsored silence, now that it's over. Thanks again Robyn!
I joined the Street Orchestra of London by chance this Easter, not really knowing what was in store for me, or the wonderful people we'd meet. To be able to transform an unassuming patch of ground into a temporary concert hub – that’s exciting to everyone involved! This challenge was a way for me to give back to an organisation which has transformed the way I think about music. And I really didn’t want to do any running.
People’s reactions and strange situations I’ve ended up in
On the very first day someone came into my practice room in a panic looking for their violin. She was too stressed to notice me pointing at my badges so I wordlessly helped to look for it. Needless to say, she gave me a very strange look on her way out.
An insect fell down my top when I was sitting under a tree and I didn’t even scream. A clear sign of my determination to this cause.
When I went out with friends, waiters loved that I wrote orders on little notes followed by thank you’s when the food arrived.
I must admit that on day 4 I broke my silence when I had an allergic reaction to my aftersun and swore loudly looking at my beetroot face in the mirror with surprise. I’d count that as a minor emergency…
Favourite sayings by friends
“Hello! Why aren’t you saying hello back? How rude!”
“I bet you won’t even want to speak at the end of your silence.”
“Won’t you get a really sore throat if you try to speak?”
We all know what parents are like..!
On day 9, my mum arrived and my hands were no match for the truckload of questions which she carried with her (Love you mum! xxx).
On day 15 I accidentally left my bra at home (don’t ask) and went shopping for new ones. Getting fitted in silence was, quite frankly, hilarious!
Playing in orchestras has been surprisingly easy to navigate. In a section, the other horns would help out where they could, and I used a large font app on my phone to communicate across the room to a conductor. Nobody questioned my professional commitment, as it definitely wasn’t me talking at the back in rehearsals!
10 silent insights
1. I felt so much calmer with myself and others, which people noticed.
2. My mind became clearer, and I could follow my train of thought through that mad jungle, even finding hidden gems of logic here and there.
3. My patience levels rose higher than ever before, especially navigating through London crowds or getting on and off the tube without speaking.
4. There was a newfound creativity which unleashed itself in my horn practice now that I was no longer swearing at myself or the instrument after every slip-up.
5. When people spoke to or around me, I could really listen and separate people’s emotions from the words they chose to wrap them in.
6. I had to acknowledge the fact that some people might be too busy or stressed to notice my badges if they were in a hurry and just accept that they might think that I was shy or deaf. It warmed my heart to see how many people knew sign-language.
7. My use of body language increased so much that some likened me to a cartoon.
8. I felt a lot more vulnerable. It’s true, words used for protection can also sting. Stepping away from them made me more approachable to friends and strangers alike.
9. I wasn’t constantly talking myself down or saying sorry every time I made a mistake. Negative thoughts come and go but I realised how wonderfully powerless they became when I chose not to vocalise them.
10. Saving the cheesiest one for the end. Humans are so incredibly powerful. We can learn so much from each other and adapt to the strangest situation in the blink of an eye if we just let ourselves do it.
All that’s left for me to say is a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who has donated and supported me through this crazy month. There’s still time to donate, as the JustGiving page is open until the 10th July. Please consider giving to this amazing organisation! I’ve seen first-hand what a positive impact it can have on people.