“Music is so powerful in our lives because it’s always there. People come and go. Jobs come and go. Relationships come and go. But music stays. Take comfort, no matter how crazy things get, music will be there for you.” (musiciansunite.com)
About 30 years ago I decided that a career in music would be selfish as I enjoyed it so much!! What?! So I became a school teacher. I threw myself into teaching. I loved teaching. I still love teaching!
About 20 years ago I was teaching a Year 6 class, and music. A colleague of mine asked if I would be interested in taking over the conducting of an orchestral workshop in Grantham. I hadn’t done any conducting since my 2nd year choral conducting course at Trinity College of Music but thought I’d give it a go. So I turned up to my first session of the Grantham Occasional Orchestral Workshop and played my horn in the first half and conducted the second half. Afterwards I had a chat with Nikki-Kate Heyes and signed an informal contract and so my relationship with SoundLINCS began.
A golden thread of being a professional musician has woven through my life ever since that day and I can trace it all back to the conversation I had with my colleague about 20 years ago! Orchestras I have played in, musicians I have met, various jobs of all sorts of sizes, quintets and trios, opportunities to volunteer and more. I am so thankful for that musical thread and the enormous contribution to society made by musicians and other artists. The last few years have seen a massive growth in community music and the value of music in society is recognised more and more. It seems extraordinary that it took me so long to value and esteem music. But now I feel passionate about the value of music for EVERYONE!
In the orchestral workshops I conduct I have seen friendships blossom; people become so good at their instruments that they leave us and join a ‘proper’ orchestra; I have seen people moved to tears by the music they are playing; I have witnessed the formation of chamber groups and ensembles who have gone on to perform their own concerts. I have seen sick people convalesce, people with disabilities participate on an equal footing, I have seen team work and companionship. I have seen people who arrive looking tired, drawn and fed up leave three hours later with a smile. I have seen elderly people find a new sense of purpose. I have seen people who feel they aren’t good enough join in and feel a glow of achievement. We have FUN together and individually!
Learning a musical instrument and taking part in musical activities is not a neutral thing. Quite apart from the benefits to the brain, listening to and playing music gives personal joy and fulfilment and a way to connect with and express our emotions. Music evokes memories and captures special moments. Music enables people to make connections and so brings a positive contribution to society and builds communities. Imagine a world with no music; films, computer games, dancing, TV shows, Christmas, religious and family occasions, parties, theatre, driving... Learning a musical instrument and listening to music has benefits to physical and mental health. Music changes lives and societies.
Music is amazing. Cherish it!