Thursday, 13 September 2012


...Or, Learning a Musical Instrument at School.

( Oooh!  Talking about music on the day that, Google informs me, would be Clara Schumann's 193rd birthday.  Spoooooky.)

The start of another school year - and once again it is time for the Curriculum Meeting with the teachers.  Just one meeting for me this year as, for the first time in about a trillion years, I only have one child at Primary School.

I quite enjoy these sessions - reading down the list of planned trips and projects I'm my daughter is going to have to do over the next few weeks,

And I'm such a nostalgist (is that a word?) I love harking back to my own projects on 'Milk' and 'Beethoven' and...actually, that's all I can remember.

A cow.  Milk comes from these.
Source: My Project c.1978
Along with a Residential Trip and the (dreaded) 'Life in Britain Since 1948' project*, I note that this year the class will be learning to play the Clarinet. 

I cannot wait for the assembly showcasing this particular endeavour :)

This talk of Musical Instruments transported me back 36 (gulp) years to a Violin Recital I took part in at school, aged 8. 
My poor Father endured what was possibly the longest 20 minutes of his life - and he was a child in London during World War Two.
I thrashed my way through several pieces of music, maintaining unflinching eye-contact with my Pa throughout.

I already had my suspicions that the violin was not for me - and this was confirmed when I bounded up to him afterwards, and my lovely Dad said...

'I really liked the way you held your violin when you all did the plucked tune.'

At least I think he said 'plucked'.

I was clearly never going to be anything beyond dreadful ... Although I was always very diligent about practising at home.

Every night I would open the heavy black violin case, admiring the blue velvet interior.
Then, taking great care, I would lift the violin from its moulded resting place and dust it with a soft cloth, before applying rosin to the bow strings.
After placing the violin under my chin for just a moment, I would release it, bow deeply to my imagined audience ... and then put everything back in the case and go and do something else.


I wait with interest to see if my Daughter carries on this Musical Tradition.


*Has anyone else done this project?  This will be our third time and we still have hardly a clue what to do.  The subject range seems so wide we never know where to start - or stop for that matter.  Any help or advice gratefully received :)

**I did, about 16 years ago, teach myself three tunes on the piano Just In Case an opportunity ever presented itself to Stun and Amaze. One did, on a holiday with Mr W's family soon after we'd got together. We'd just finished lunch in the house we'd rented in the Brecon Beacons, when I excused myself, saying, 'I'm just going to have a little play on that piano'. Into the other room I went and promptly embarked on Tune Number One of my Extensive Repertoire of Three. I had scarcely started Tune Number Two when the whole family came in, all astonished faces and gasps of admiration. Then Mr W's dad sat next to me on the piano stool and joined in - playing like a pro.
I promptly lost my place, my nerve, and - momentarily - my will to live.
I have never attempted to Stun and Amaze since.


  1. Oh my, that is funny dude. I mean, not for you at the time admittedly. I also know about three or four tunes on the piano, maybe we should form a band?! Your tale has ensured I never sit down at a piano and try to 'stun and amaze' however.

    1. Let's do it! I've always wanted to be in a band. Just going to spend an hour or so thinking up our name...I can see it now - tour shirts, product endorsements...
      I don't imagine a little thing like only 6 or 7 tunes between us holding us back :)