I’m normally the first person to write a blog but Mike has gladly beaten me to it this year! Once you’ve read my blog you’ll understand why… We’re hoping to give you an insight into life away from the spa (‘off the spa’ one might say), and for me that means teaching.
When I started with the Spa Orchestra in 2011 I was convinced that I would be found out as not being good enough to play next to these amazing musicians, but in 2012 I was asked back and celebrated the orchestra’s centenary. As the seasons passed, it slowly has dawned on me that perhaps I’m here for as long as I wish. With that has meant a move over to Yorkshire, which I think is a beautiful part of the country, and the search for work to tide me over in the winter. As I mentioned last year, I have been fortunate enough to be working with the East Riding Music Service and since January I have been working four days a week. However, that has to continue in addition to the first few weeks of the season meaning I have had music coming out of my eyeballs since the start of June! I have just started my last week of term, and hopefully I won’t have to miss any more concerts after that, though I have found a great dep, Jonathan Sage who has been covering for me and doing a great job from what I hear.
It really has been a last push through these past few weeks. On Friday I had three pupils sitting grade 1 exams. You would have thought the children would be nervous, but this is nothing compared to their poor teachers. I had to play piano for each of them which, after scraping through my grade 3 about 15 years ago, proves tricky. Being the end of term, various trips and sports days and performances get in the way of normal lessons so I had to make a few spaces where I could to fit in extra lessons. And after all that preparation, you have no control over how your students perform. Nevertheless, I have some great pupils who all pulled it out of the bag, in spite of their own nerves, and performed their hearts out. It should be a few weeks before we find out the results, but I am confident they will do well.
In addition to teaching, I help run a music service wind band for players grade 2 – 5 and we have been rehearsing every fortnight since January for our summer concert on 12th July. This is something I really enjoy, and I have been working on my conducting with the ensemble. I think I am improving, and I will be conducting my most difficult piece yet next weekend, a medley from the musical ‘Wicked’. I have some great colleagues who have helped me enormously, and Mark from the orchestra can even be seen in our rehearsals encouraging a fantastic sound out of the young brass players. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how my arms wiggle really, it is how the band performs. Our very own orchestra proves how well musicians can perform without a ‘stick-waver’!
To summarise my hectic few weeks, since last Friday I have played a Peasholm concert plus 7 spa concerts, played an outdoor concert at Chatsworth House, conducted my wind band, taught 55 pupils plus 3 full classes, and done 3 exams. At music college, the buzz word was ‘portfolio’ career, meaning you had to diversify and have lots of different jobs to give yourself an advantage in a highly competitive profession; I think I have certainly achieved that.
Once more I am in awe of my incredibly talented colleagues who have shaped, and continue to inspire, the musician I am today. Thank you to all of you who support our orchestra, and who read this blog, we really wouldn’t exist without our loyal audience!