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Review: My Journey in Music by Luke Fiddes

A sharply written account of a young person coping with the challenges of adolescence, My Journey in Music is both the story of author Luke Fiddes’ success in using music to overcome the difficulties and realise the benefits associated with Asperger syndrome, but also a practical guide for anyone looking to apply these same principles to their own life.

For several years Luke has worked in schools using music to engage with children, helping them to discover the power of expressing yourself through music. He is also a passionate and talented musician on a variety of instruments, and a keen songwriter. Luke’s work is directly influenced by the part that music has played in his own life, frequently stating that it has transformed the way he thinks about and utilises being on the autistic spectrum. Along with co-author John Osborne, whose experiences in using personalised music in a therapeutic setting is invaluable to this project, Luke draws on these convictions throughout the book, resulting in a powerful testament to the potential of using music to help navigate the difficulties of teenage life.

The book is split into two halves. The first half provides a personal account of Luke’s teenage years, charting his growing understanding of his autism, the difficulty he faced initially in dealing with the challenges it presented and his later success in managing them, through perseverance and music. The second half of the book contains activities and questions to work through, encouraging the reader to put Luke’s principles into action in their own lives.

The narrative Luke provided at the outset is remarkable for its frankness, as it takes the reader through Luke’s Journey in Music right alongside him. It pulls no punches, detailing his struggles and frustrations at school and in his personal life. This all serves to make his eventual successes and triumphs all the more inspiring. As well as praising the author for his honesty, it is worth noting too that Luke’s writing is sharp and to the point, which increases itsMy Journey in Music force. Luke’s account provides many eye-opening insights into growing up with Asperger syndrome while also discussing challenges that will be familiar to all young people.

Upon finishing Luke’s story, by following the exercises in the second half of the book it is possible for children or teenagers with special needs to encounter the healing and therapeutic power of music to which Luke attests. The activities are fun and varied, designed to get the reader thinking about the music that is most important to them and the different ways in which they are significant, perhaps through association with a loved one or with a cherished memory. Upon completion, the child will be left with a ‘My Journey in Music Playlist’, listing all their favourite songs in one place, while individual sections (such as ‘Motivation’ or ‘Relaxation’) can be used therapeutically as mood enhancement. For example, the songs from the ‘Relaxation’ playlist and the recorded memories associated with them can be used to unwind following a difficult day. In fact, the book would be useful to any young person due to its powerful central message and the commonality of Luke’s experiences, which are recognisable to any teenager.

The book is therefore doubly important, containing an entertaining, funny and heartfelt narrative through which the reader is presented with a clear path for approaching personalised music in this way, while also of great practical use that will have them directly applying the thoughts and lessons of the first half to their own lives. In Luke’s book, any teenager will find a lot to be motivated, comforted and inspired by.

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