It’s probably the question kids hate most and yet we can’t resist asking. If I asked my three-year-old granddaughter, she would surely say ‘a princess’. But back in my day, we were not invited to dream. First I was going to be a nurse, then I settled for a teacher. I didn’t stray far from that in real life either. Continue reading ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’
A new garden – and the gardening spark has been rekindled! There was I thinking that I’d been there, dug that and worn out the T-shirt. Even sent all my gardening books to the charity shop. And now, faced with a new terrain, I am back in thrall to my trowel, heaps of manure and – my imagination, which, sadly, seems rather more fertile than our stony ground looks. Still, Continue reading Playing in the garden
The saga of the three weeks preceding our relocation to Kent has been shared with many of you, but you’ll forgive me if I revisit it briefly to set the scene for our further adventures.
Two bike incidents on one Sunday resulted in an ankle ligament injury for me and a broken right wrist for Archie. With a week to go before our farewell charity concert, don’t you think it reasonable that when Archie phoned to tell me his news from the hospital, my first query was ‘Will you be able to play in the concert?’ Continue reading Of Family, Friends and Felines
There are good things and bad things about having a dog.
For years now, we have seen how the children who visit our house for lessons can only see the good things – while their parents only see…! Right now, as it’s time for one of Sanday’s bi-annual moults (each of which lasts about six months), I am currently living out one of the bad things. But as I yet again hoover up what seems to be enough Sanday-hair to make a second dog, I reflect on one of the best things about having a dog. No, it’s not that wicked, whipping tail Continue reading Farewell to Ha’penny Bridge
A transcript of some thoughts which we shared with the audiences at the end of our final pupils’ concerts. A playlist from the concerts is included at the end.
After our first pupils’ concerts over 30 years ago, I remember saying to Archie how well they had turned out and how we mustn’t hold them too often or they would stop feeling special. Yet, somehow, we found ourselves having at least two, if not three, concert days a year and holding at least two, if not three, concerts on each of those days. Continue reading A Concerted Effort
Do you ever find that when you’re extra busy, you feel the need to take up some all-consuming activity that has no connection at all to the matters that are crowding on your life and uses up the time that you have allotted to these urgent tasks?
I could blame my daughter-in-law who tentatively told me that the baby, my granddaughter, had grown out of all her cardigans. I could blame the family who house-and-animal-sat for us while they were between houses and we were away from home – they gave me a voucher to spend in an exotic wool shop. Continue reading A good yarn
Goodness! What a year of momentous change in the world! While some welcome the chance for new voices to be heard and new paths to be followed, others despair of the direction the world seems to be taking. The message of Christmas embraces the idea of light in the world and hope for the future; though many do not align themselves with the tenets of Christianity, the importance that people place on being with family and loved ones at this time suggests where the hope for the future lies. Our world and our lives are lit up by the connection we make and experience with those around us. The hope for the future does not rest with world statesmen or the media who tell us about them, but with all of us and how we manage our dealings with those we encounter.
I’d like to share a unique concert given just before Christmas in 1985 by the pianist/composer Ronald Stevenson who died in 2015. Ronald was our friend for many years and, though a musician and intellectual of huge standing, a more humble, charming man would be hard to find.
Continue reading Christmas message 2016
For most children, the real proof that you can play the piano is that you can play tunes that other people recognise. Each week, one of my young pupils used to say to me ‘This is just made up music. When can I play real music?’
And you know what they mean. The spark of recognition and enthusiasm to have a go when children reach the tunes, Twinkle Twinkle, Row Row the boat and This Old Man in our course makes me plumb my mental music library for how to devise a course which consists largely of tunes that everybody knows. But that’s the problem. Everybody doesn’t know the same tunes. Those tunes, which we imagine we imbibed with the mashed carrot and apple of our first taste of solid food, keep changing for each generation. You can no longer assume that every child will recognise Yankee Doodle, O when the Saints and Kum by ya. And when faced with their quizzical gazes as you sing the tunes to them, you can see why…
One of our former students, now at university, wrote recently to tell us that he had started to do a bit of piano teaching himself. He told us that he was enjoying it, but was struggling to keep the lessons captivating. Did we have any tips?
Tips on teaching are a bit like tips for a happy marriage or long life. It seems that the successful aspirant thinks up the most unlikely habit of a lifetime and attributes their success to that. ‘I never argue with my spouse’, says one happily married octogenarian, while another insists that a ‘bit of strife helps keep the wife’. A daily glass of red wine for the last 80 years is one centenarian’s recipe for long life while another swears by never touching a drop.
Continue reading Comin round the mountain
My mother told me that, when she was twelve years old, she took part in a school show. By then she had grown to her full height of 4 foot 11½ inches and, for a brief time, was almost as round as she was tall. Having a fine singing voice, it was obvious that she should be given a solo part. Sadly the powers-that-were decided that she sounded very much better than she looked. She was cast as ‘The Moon’ and made to sing behind a screen.
In my school, it was also the custom for the Primary Seven classes to prepare a show for the delight of their parents and the rest of the school. It was performed in the drill-hall, half of which became the stage. The rest of the school watched the performance sitting cross-legged on the floor.
Continue reading A bit of a sing-along