I can’t remember not playing the piano. Before I began taking lessons I was playing my sister’s pieces by ear. My mother and grandmother were both very accomplished pianists and I grew up listening to them play in a variety of situations around Newcastle, from serving as church organists to being in-demand, talented accompanists. My father was a lead violinist in the Newcastle Youth Orchestra under Errol Collins. So music is definitely in my blood!
My teacher was very ‘old school’ – an elderly nun who ruled with a long stick. But I recognised her investment in my talent and progress and respected her despite her beating time on my shoulder blade with her heavy stick. My exam results included three A+ grades, along with honours in Musicianship. However, my strength was not in intricate technical work, but the more emotive and musical pieces. I played a lot of Mozart and Grieg! This appreciation of the beauty and emotion of music is what I value most dearly and what I hope to share with others.
The first instrument that was ever wholly mine was a ukulele I was given for Christmas when I was four. I loved that little uke and still have it. As a teenager I graduated to the guitar, an instrument I still enjoy playing regularly. Along with encouraging singing pursuits, my parents were keen to introduce me to a range of instruments and I still have that range including a flute, fife, harmonica and banjo-mandolin. My main instruments/loves though are definitely the piano and guitar.
As a young adult I became involved with local amateur theatre groups, including some shows with Newcastle Theatre Company (then Newcastle Repertory Club) as Musical Director, leading not just the band, but also teaching the cast. Like my mother and grandmother before me, I have an understanding of and appreciation for the unique skill required to be a good accompanist and I believe this comes from recognising the soul of the music while still having the technical skill required to follow a soloist, no matter where they may go! In recent years I have accompanied and assisted with the Nova Chorale choir in Newcastle.
While other things may come and go, music is the constant in my life. I hope to have the opportunity to share with you this wonderful blessing.