'If we fetishise trauma as incommunicable then survivors are trapped - unable to feel truly known . . . You don't honour someone by telling them, "I can never imagine what you've been through." Instead, listen to their story and try to imagine being in it, no matter how hard or uncomfortable that feels.'
- Phil Klay, veteran, US Marine Corps
For my son
Classical music makes me hard.
And as long as I'm honouring that, then even if I don't make it I will fall asleep happy.
James Rhodes' passion for music has been his absolute lifeline. It has been the thread that has held him together through a life that has encompassed pain, conflict and turmoil. Listening to Rachmaninov on a loop as a traumatised teenager or discovering an Adagio by Bach while in a hospital ward - such exquisite miracles of musical genius have helped him survive his demons, and, along with a chance encounter with a stranger, inspired him to become the renowned concert pianist he is today. This is a memoir like no other: unapologetically candid, boldly outspoken and surprisingly funny - James' prose is shot through with an unexpectedly mordant wit, even at the darkest of moments. An impassioned tribute to the therapeutic powers of music, Instrumental also weaves in fascinating facts about how classical music actually works and about the extraordinary lives of some of the great composers. It explains why and how music has the potential to transform all of our lives.… (more)