Simon Bellett

The journey is its own reward - I love this phrase! It says so much about life, in particular about my life. Music is the road along which I am journeying and my travelling companion is the eye condition RP. But the wonderful thing is: once you’ve found the right path, you “only” have to travel it. That doesn’t mean that there will be no hurdles to encounter, but it’s a good feeling to have found your way.

Anybody who has RP will be familiar with reactions such as: “That must be terrible!”, “You must feel you have no prospects for the future”. Luckily I can answer with “I’ve got the best possible job to deal with this.” or “I’m fine - I’ve got my music!”. I am lucky and music is a real gift.

Music is a broad field which offers more or less unlimited opportunites. In the past years doors to many new areas have opened for me.

As a pianist and organist I have had to learn to play pieces by heart. This has challenged and pushed me. In order to memorize pieces, one has to analyse them and develop new ways of understanding them. I’ve been forced to become a better musician and I find this progress very fulfilling.

At some point, singing demanding works in a choir wasn’t feasible any more. I couldn’t follow the conductor, missed cues and failed to see important gestures. My solution several years ago was to become a conductor myself. When I stand in front of a choir I give the cues - I need to be seen rather than seeing myself!

Would I have become a conductor without RP? Perhaps not. The eye disorder pushes me onwards. I neither can or want to tread water in life. RP makes me challenge myself. With music, my vocational and personal development go hand in hand and I experience this as tremendously satisfying.

I’m on the road. Behind me are things which I unfortunately can’t do any more. Reading sheet music is very strenuous by now. But I have memorised a lot of music and learning new pieces by listening and analysing comes more and more easily. Technology provides a lot of solutions such as text enlargement or screen readers. And there are many helpful people who offer their support. THANK YOU!!!

My list of “new things” is getting quite long by now. Would I have started playing the saxophone without RP? Probably not - and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on that. Would I have written my children’s musicals? Would I have been so interested in singing?

My “LIVE” concert is unique because it brings many of these musical ingredients, new and old, together. I can perform blind - the light is only on because you need it!

And the journey continues. Where will this path take me? I don’t know but I’m curious to find out. Please don’t think that I’m pleased about this eye disease - it doesn’t make life easy. But nevertheless it acts as a driving force. And that is good for me and my music.

FAQ about my sight loss                       RP at Wiki