Music has always been a passion of mine. I grew up with a mixture of country music, Elvis Presley, opera, and Native American chants. In all honesty, the latter was my favourite by far. I adored singing and would sing all over the place. Have you ever heard a six year old performing a rendition of the Flower Duet, solo? I can’t imagine it was enjoyable to listen to!
However, things started to change a bit when I went to a certain prestigious girls school in the Midlands. I auditioned for the choir a couple of times and eventually gave in when told that my voice was “flat” and “hideous”. With the benefit of hindsight, I was a nine year old with no vocal training who was simply enjoying singing along competing against other little girls who had been classically trained since they could speak. It was a snobby world. However, it was at this time that I decided not to sing in front of anyone again. Eventually I discovered that I was afraid of singing in front of anyone but this didn’t develop until a few years on and quite by accident.
This same school did introduce me to a different side of music, however, and for this I am grateful. In our music classes we all tried basically every orchestral instrument, and a fair few beside. It was here that I met the ‘cello and felt instantly in love. It wasn’t until I moved to secondary school that I took ‘cello lessons and I am not ashamed to tell you that I spent a fair bit of my first lesson crying because I was finally playing the instrument. I was given a ‘cello for Christmas when I was twelve and so started the tradition…
You see, the problem was, my appetite had been whetted and I wasn’t going to settle for ‘just’ ‘cello. The next Christmas I got my bass guitar which I taught myself to play and played with a couple of bands for a while. The Christmas after was my keyboard which I taught myself to grade three standard and then had to put away because there simply wasn’t room for her in the house. Flash forward to the present and I am the proud owner of several guitars, a bass guitar, a tin whistle, recorders, a keyboard and a ‘cello and am coveting a fair few other instruments that are way out of my price range (Hello nyckleharpa and hurdy-gurdy)
|A poor quality webcam photo I took of my bass when
I first got her. My pride hasn’t faded!
However, my love for playing music dropped quite sharply with the study of music as a secondary school qualification. I guess I didn’t get it. If I was going to listen to a tune then I wanted to think about what it made me feel, what the message was not how many violins were playing and where the accidental was in the fifth bar. I didn’t see the point. I also wasn’t that competent in comparison to my peers who had been learning since they were much younger than I and the teacher made it clear that he thought that was bad at the subject. Suddenly I was comparatively bad at something that I loved and history repeated itself. I stopped playing ‘cello and keyboard publicly and actually rejected a couple of offers to join orchestras.
So, I’m guessing that right now I sound like a bit of a silly person. A bit of rejection and I allow it to affect me to such a degree. Well, yes. I agree to a degree. The thing is, I never stopped doing the things I loved I just didn’t let anyone hear me doing it. I stopped taking instrumental lessons (except for ‘cello which I carried on until I moved away from my teacher) but I carried on playing. I never even stopped singing.
About six months ago, and two years after my last music lesson, I felt ready to get into music properly again. I felt ready to actually learn again because I had rediscovered what music was for me. Music is beauty. Music is emotion. Theory is the stepping stones to get to the magic. You can play every note perfectly and without the feeling you not played music… you’ve made some sequential noises.
During my gap year I am going to play music as often as I can and I am also going to take singing lessons. I want to have the technique to back up my enjoyment. I am never going to be the best musician in the world. I am never going to have the best voice in the world. I am going to love every second.
And who knows? My art teacher told me not to take the subject to GCSE level because my technique was so bad yet I won an international UNESCO art competition. Lets see where music will lead me?