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Matthew Geer

Matthew Geer

Studying PhD in Music
Queen's University Belfast


Matt is a researcher in aesthetic philosophy, specialising in the phenomenology of music and temporal consciousness. He is currently writing a PhD, supervised at Queen's University Belfast and is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he studied music composition.

As a composer, Matt writes mainly opera and vocal works and frequently draws upon his experiences with schizoaffective disorder, a condition that combines symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar. Matt is an award-winning organist and has played at many major Cathedrals in the UK and abroad. In his spare time, he enjoys cycling, learning languages and playing jazz piano.

TEDx Talk Title

Hearing voices: How schizophrenia can teach us to listen

Overview of TEDx Talk

As a composer who also suffers from schizophrenia, I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to deal with hearing voices and exploring different approaches of listening to music. However, it’s only recently, through trying to be more optimistic about my diagnosis, that I’ve realised the way I cope with schizophrenia might be able to also teach me something about listening.

I find music difficult to listen to. Not least as a schizophrenic, but my concentration is generally bad, probably made worse by social media and my smart phone; it’s something I can turn to at the immediate materialisation of boredom. One way I cope with hearing voices is through deep focus on the sound, mitigating the initial reacting to the content. I observe the textures and characteristics of the sound; it’s qualities alone and in relation to other sounds that temporally surround it. It’s like saying a word repeatedly until it’s meaning is lost and the sound becomes strange. At this point, you’re freed from your initial reaction to the sound, and can explore the sound at a deeper and more inquisitive level.