Music has been a big part of my life first as a recorder player who learned the books in a couple of weeks and then as a ‘cellist who used it to further her social life. I started playing the ‘cello when I was 10 ish really by accident as I actually wanted to play the violin but for some reason the teachers picked who they thought ‘looked right’ with the violin and, apparently, I didn’t. I then chose the ‘cello and started having weekly lessons. There was something about sound of the ‘cello that grabbed me and I progressed relatively quickly. I ended up taking grades 1, 5 and 8 even going onto Music College in London but that’s where it stopped for me. I always said I’d give up as soon as I stopped enjoying it and I really didn’t enjoy London so I did 2 years of the 4 year performance degree and then left. The day I attended my then boyfriend’s graduation was the day I walked out the door shutting it behind me, sighing a deep sigh of relief.
After my year out I then went to university to do a teaching degree specialising in music which meant I had to dust off the ‘cello, restring it and try to convince my fingers to do what they used to. I never felt they entirely did but they had a good go. I remember having a meeting with my tutor and saying that I found something lacking in my playing and that I didn’t find the same satisfaction that I used to. He said something quite refreshing that really opened my eyes. He said that maybe the ‘cello was the wrong instrument for me and that he believed that everyone was suited to an instrument and maybe I hadn’t found mine yet. He also said it was a shame as I played so nicely but I said what’s nice if you aren’t satisfied?
I then started teaching music and that awoke something in me that I’d never felt before. I became passionate that all children should have the same opportunities as I had. I taught the recorder to years 3-6 at the school I was working in even writing a recorder tutor for the teacher’s to use so they could carry on teaching after I had left. I loved singing with the nursery children and giving the year 6’s sheet music for them to take home, learn to play and then bring back the next week to fashion into some sort of performance. I taught basic notation to Year 2 and had them clapping 4 beat rhythms using crotchets, quavers and semiquavers moving onto minims and semibreves. They wrote their own rhythms delighting in making them as difficult as possible. I even taught crotchets and quavers to Year 1. (Children can do so much more than we think. Just because us parents may not understand it doesn’t follow that our children don’t!) That gave me satisfaction. One of my most memorable moments was having a discussion with the juniors about how you can ‘listen with your eyes’ in Somewhere over the rainbow another is the whole school singing ‘Amarillo’ at the tops of their voices including the clapping to the stern looks from some of the other teachers. My favourite though, has to be when Year 2 and I listened to a piece of music and one of them said ‘It’s hard to stay still to this Miss…’ so we all got up and just boogied. That gave me satisfaction. Seeing children and adults through their instrumental exams and also theory exams and teaching various ensemble classes was great and an enjoyment to me but to enthuse someone and make them passionate about music was something that was and still is an amazing feeling.
I hope my children will enjoy music as much as I have and although I am not the professional ‘cellist I once set out to be I think that our home is filled with music and the happiness it generates. The music in the car has the boys nodding sagely in time –even the baby! – And they shout ‘turn it up mummy!!’ when they hear a snippet of something they like. We dance and sing round the kitchen to anything and everything new, old, classic or pop. Today we had Mica’s ‘Big girls’ which Oliver and I know all the words to. (This is funny to hear us in itself as I’m not big and he’s not even a girl!) It’s a fun song with a very catchy melody and for those 3 minutes we were singing as if we were on the stage at Wembley.
So music is still so important in my life but the emphasis and direction has changed. I have been a performer, a teacher and now mummy who loves to boogie with her boys. Now that gives me satisfaction.
If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.