Monthly Archives: January 2016

Vinyl Tap!

Yesterday,I listened to some of my old records on my retro record player.Many of these tunes reminded me of when I was a child and my sister would play records with me.

You know,the process of taking the record out of its sleeve,selecting the right speed,guiding the stylus to the right position is,indeed,a throw back to another era,but it somehow brought me to a time that I hadn’t remembered for a while now.

My player looks like a mini suitcase,it’s red,it’s reminds me of my sister’s old Dansette one.Its also portable,so I might take it to show some of my pupils one day.Granted,they might  think that it’s rather an ancient Concept to be interested in,so I will test the waters out with a selection of them.My love of analogue music goes back many,many decades.Of course,I’m not saying that digital music isnt an advancement because it is,it’s just that I am emotionally attached to analogue recordings,as they were my first experiences of music as a child in many respects.

So yesterday afternoon,I listened to Art Garfunkel,Stevie Wonder,and some Piano music.There is a rawness with Analogue,a connection,it’s like you have more to do with its success.You sit near the little player,it’s cosy,it’s like in from the Winter’s elements.My sister,Shiela,had quite a collection of records,and would purchase them on a Saturday.She would play them with me.They were happy times,truly happy.Now,I suppose,because I’ve spent a lifetime teaching music,with all its nuances,but there is something so simplistic and real about this little machine of mine.Of course,compared to the technology of today,it isn’t small at all,and you can only -at least with this one-play one record at a time.Maybe that’s it,the reality of life at times can take the softness out of it.In our world,you have to appear to be tough,even though you might get not be it,you have to give off confident vibes.When I was learning my trade,you new the music so well that you just couldn’t get it wrong,but nowadays to many it’s “fake it until you make it”.

Being part of a family where technology is in the DNA,I’ve been known as someone who is a Luddite,and there is a grain of truth in that statement I admit.So,having this wee machine is a throwback in more ways than one.

It’s not everyday that a material thing is the subject of my blog post,but I wanted to share it on this platform.

Thank you for reading my post.



The Courage to continue…

,”Success is not final,failure is not fatal:it is the courage to continue that counts” Winston Churchill.

To me,at least,that represents a good yardstick for life that seems to be needed ever more as we try to keep going in ur own journey.As no one has a charmed life,with many having to carry on with all sorts of pressures that we probably won’t be aware of,it’s good to remember that perspective can often lend weight to any present dilemma that we might find ourself in.

Last night,we were discussing just how time and the passing of it can affect our present opinion of things.When our eldest son was at first school,we had profound cardiac problems,meaning that he would be either in hospital,or at home.However,we never gave up on his education,and yes there were bad days,traumatic days you could say.However,now some 30 years later,and he is a Doctor of science,and has a job in research that makes a difference to the health of others.So that quote from Churchill that I used at the outset of the blog post is salient.

Yes,along  the way there have been successes,but also many instances where failure seemed to be constantly at thedoor,but we have been lucky,and maybe we’ve had enough vision to see things in the long game as they are,and not to let either emotion completely rule our life.

Sometimes,I use that word lucky quite often,and I do so because I know people who have equally loved their children just as much if not more than me,and have lost those dear loved ones.We have had turmoil in life,but at least we still have our son.In fact,we have our sons as it were which give us so many reasons to be proud.

My younger son from a young boy,always wanted to do something in music.Yes,he had talent in abundance,but more is required than talent.We were told that he would have to go to a specialised music school in order to realise that ambition.As time went on,my son felt that that he was disadvantaged by being at a state school.As we were trying to look after his elder brother through constant hospital visits,and wanting to keep our family together,we felt that we should stay as a unit.This meant regular trips to London for rehearsals as our Son was in a national orchestra,and juggling that with hospital stays at cardiac centres around our area and London.As you would imagine,that presented challenges that were,at times,overwhelming.So yes,there were failures during those years.However,I suppose we kept on going trying our best.Yes,our sons have a lot of ability,and my younger got himself into a Russell group Uni,and then to the Guildhall for vocal training,culminating in gaining a place at their internationally renowned opera school.So,yes,we’ve had our success,but often our failures have had their affect on us.We have learnt never to take anything for granted,and never to think that we have all the answers.

So,in conclusion,my blog post for today is centred around a quote yes,but it’s also biographical too.

We life has successes and failures for all of us,it’s seems an appropriate on.

Hoping that everyone has a good weekend.

Nature has music to those who would listen!

Even though these are the winter months,

Even though the evenings are still dark by 5,

There are birds singing in our gardens,

They are sung their calling songs and their calls are beautiful.

But,and it’s a big one,you have to listen,you have to screen out the background noise,it’s hard.

But,and this is the positive thng,it’s so rewarding when you hear nature’s wonderful music,

Don’t take my word for it,give it a try for yourself,

Wishing you joy in Listenning to Nature’s music.

“The older I get”

The older I get,the more convinced I am that life is good,

The older I get,the more discoveries are taking place that might make a difference,

The older I get,the more I realise I learn from others-My Family,My pupils,and my Friends.

The older I get,the more I realise that the ever present nature of people is oh so important,

The older I get,the more I know that to be content with what you have a so important,

The older I get,the more I truly realise that I have been lucky in life.

As you all get older,I wish you good cheer.

Have a good day.


“Protected from the elements”.

It’s blowing a gale out there today,

I’m lucky to be in a warm home,sheltered from the elements.

As I learn of more homeless,my heart along with countless others ,goes out to all of them,

My thoughts turn to those who make their long from the sea,and the dangers of it.


Just grateful for all the good in my life.

The Joy of teaching.

Our minds are truly amazing.They enable us to make sence of the world that we live in,with its layers of complexities.Today has given me a chance to observe how the mind can truly be such a wonderful thing,and also,when it malfunctions,how it can seemingly be unable to grasp things that we were once so sure of.

At present,the age range of my pupils are from 9 to 91,which I suppose truly is the opposite poles of the age spectrum.This afternoon,my 91 year old pupil was trying her best to play a Mozart piano sonata.This work was a favourite of her mother,so she is very keen to learn it.Because my pupil has early onset dementia,the original note patterns have proven difficult for her.As most teachers would have done,I set about arranging the more difficult passages so that she could get her fingers around it.As she played it through,she seemed to enjoy it.Then she asked for me to play it for her.Upon doing that,I noticed that she had tears in her eyes.They were tears of joy as she recounted how her mother used to play this piece,and she was so grateful that I had arranged it for her to play.Yes,when our pupils have illnesses,it does means a greater effort,but it was worth it today to see the light in the eyes of my pupil.

But my elderly pupil wasn’t the only person to shed a tear today!

Later this afternoon,I had a lesson with an A-level student,although I wont name her,she does know that I am going to write about her in my blog post today.She is now just over 17,and is doing 4 A-levels at a local school here in Dorset.She has been learning the piano since she was 5 and is grade 8 standard.So,having just finished teaching the 91 year old lady,I go to the student and following some scales and Hanon exercises she plays me the famous Chopin Nocturne in E Flat.To me,Chopin’s piano music is truly beautiful.As she played the piece,I forgot that it was my pupil,and I relaxed and was profoundly touched by the beauty of the playing.When she had finished,I was fighting back the tears myself,it was just so beautiful.Now,to me,having  known this young lady since she was 5,I was just so proud that she could play this piece so musically,I was transferred to another place,it was deeply moving.

As I drove home after my pupils today,I thought of just how fortunate I am to be a teacher,with the privilege of helping others to learn things in life.Yes,there are challenges in teaching,but in the round ,these things can be overcome.This evening,even though I have been doing preparation for my lessons tomorrow afternoon,I have still felt that teaching is such a joy.

Sometimes as humans are apt to do,we can moan about our lt in life,but I try,at least to think of the illustration of the glass,with mine being half full rather than being half empty.Its not always the case with  me,but I try my best.

To conclude,it’s tragic when an able mind starts to suffer from the affects of dementia,but giving up on someone who has the early symptoms seems premature to me.

So yes,the mind is capable of mastering complex things like Maths and Science,but is also able to create beautiful works of art too.

This is my blog post for today,thank you as always for your attention.

What it is that makes us human!

What is it that makes us tick?What are the drivers of people in general?To arrive at any real satisfactory answers to these questions will mean quite a lot of thought.

By way of elaboration,I would say that our life context has so much to do with our present drives and motivations.To illustrate,a man who had very little in the way of formal education might bulk at his son not achieving academic excellence because of his own deficiencies.While this is understandable in many ways,it might not fully satisfy why he feels it necessary to pressurise his son to such extremes.As is so often the case,the devil is in the detail.As some of the happiest people that I know are the ones who are at ease in their own skin,I would say that just being successful doesn’t always equate to contentment.

Time and again,we hear of people who might feel that if they had this acquisition,or that house,or some such other material thng,that they would then be happy.While it’s true that we all need sustenance and protection from the elements,those things of themselves are not the exclusive ingredients to happiness.

Having gone through a period of say a couple of years a few years ago now when the medication that I had been prescribed pro outed me from driving,I would take the bus to school and to my private lessons.Obviously,it was not the most convenient of situations,but it did after a while become apparent to me that the folk that I rubbed shoulders with on a daily basis were quite happy with ther lot in life.Oddly enough,I quite enjoyed this itinerant community,and I still many who wave to me from the bus as I walk my dogs each day.This observation may not of itself have a strong scientific basic,it does have merit in that I observed these people over 2 years,each day.Yes,we were different in many ways,but we all developed an interest in each other that I found sort of caring.Now,maybe as people in society who didn’t have cars as such,we might have considered ourselves as disadvantaged.To add fuel to my argument,when I finally was able to return to driving,I found that missed these people and my daily interactions with them.

So,I realised in a very small way,that I missed these folk,and that I needed to hear about what they were doing more than I realise.Now,as I stated earlier,context is important to all of us,and maybe my life as a child was spent in isolation as I tried to perfect classical Piano and the Organ.By their very definition,they require many hours of practise at the expense of human interaction.In many ways,it can make you very self contained,but it can make you quite selfish too.As I have grown older,I know it can be the case with me.There have been many times when my family have said that I appear to be in anther world,and they are right.ayes,it’s a doing mechanism in many ways,but I don’t like that side of me.

As what drives us essentially is highly personal,I want to look at it in a different way.Sometimes,I might like to think that I am not ambitious,only to spend hour upon hour in the pursuit of perfecting a random 16 th century keyboard piece that hardly anyone has heard of.But,because I value it,it becomes an obsession to perfect it,it is a driver to me.

Recently,I spoke to a man who had an interest in wooden boats all his life,and he seemed impress that I knew anything about them.Because I had grown up around small craft as a child,I had acquired a working knowledge of them.As we talked,it became obvious to me that boats were a real driver to him.As I had known since a child that to own a boat,you would constantly have to pay out on it,I understood the sacrifices that he had made to be a boat owner.Yes,my association wth boats were as a crew member,but I knew where he was coming from.

So,yes,things can drive us on,and they do,but I would people that relationships drives us on far more.We tend to do thngs for our children in ways that we wouldn’t always do for ourselves.That said,I can’t really think of a better driver than our own children.

So, what makes us tick?What drives us on?Maybe these things are highly personal.However,I can say,that at this time n my life now,people are so much more important to me than at any other time in my life.Yes,thngs have their place,but relationships seem so much more real to me.

My way of conclusion,I have spent some of my happiest times as a child crewing on a Dinghy and it never bothered me that I have never owned a boat in my life,but,I have so so many memories that keep me going.
As always,my muse is what it is,personal.Yes,I try to write things that might be of interest,and am flattered that people take some f their valuable time to read it.

Thank you.


Trying to give people our fullest attention.

If I could be a good listener,then I would have achieved my lifetimes ambition.To me,this ability,this function,this art of the heart,is so very important to my life.

Although I would like to think that I am a good listener,it is still a work in progress to me,because when we switch off and relax,that’s when we miss something that is truly important.For example,I might feel that I know my friend and their wishes,heartaches,and needs,but if I don’t employ emotional intelligence when I am with them,I might block off their ability to communicate in a truly beneficial way.Yes,it takes a great deal of effort to look below the surface at times,but that is a basic human need that we all have,and one that needs to be filled as we attempt to forge lasting relationships.Sometimes it’s true that these thngs take time,and we all test one another out as to our being genuine.Sometimes,language that people use in regards to others can appear to be affectionate,but often when someone needs to talk about the things that are bothering them,these fair weather friends tend to disappear,preferring the superficial banter of the Gym or Coffee shop.Of course,non of us want a profound conversation every time we see our friend,but we do need the assurance that if such an interaction is needed,that it will be received with sincerity,and with a Listenning ear.

Personally,I have found over the years that oftentimes people need for someone to listen to what is going on for them and from their perspective.While it is true that there should be an interchange of ideas and concerns that both parties can nurtur,it’s important to be willing to sacrifice our wishes in order to listen to the other person.All too often,we are so obsessed with butting into the conversation with our pet idea,that we fail to listen to what is said,and,also,to what isn’t said.

As humans,we are governed by relationships,it’s the glue that makes life truly worthwhile.Yes,we have a healthy respect for our own self,but this is reflected mostly in our dealings with others.As a rule,those intimate relationships exist within the family where our most precious relationships rightly reside.So normally,our friends are those who have a positive opinion of our life partners,and our children.We subconsciously evaluate people on how they treat out loved ones,because we show them a protective care that we don’t show others.So,to me,Listenning is something that underpins these loving relationships.If we can’t respect our family members by Listenning to them,then we are compounding any problems that might arise.Although Listenning isn’t a panacea for all ills,it does act as a neutral respect mode for the family to function.

As I grow older,with grown up children,and having been married for over 32 years now,I know that I have made mistakes,and many times,I have had to eat massive helpings of humble pie,but,you know,it is worth it,it really is.Now,when my children come home from wherever they have been in the world and they still want to talk to me,I feel that I did something right.You know,apart from having some talent for music,the ability to listen is my only saving grace.

With my teaching too,I’ve had to talk to my pupils many a time and try to listen to them,improving the way that I explain things.Yes,at times,especially when I have been teaching teenagers,they can be brutally frank about my shortcomings,but you know,they are often right,and I have to navigate my way through this hiatus in our teacher pupil relationship.Even though I have been teaching for over 35 years,I know that things don’t always go to plan,and I have to be honest about it.

However,what I do know is that things don’t improve unless both parties want it to happen,but the onus is on us,the teacher,because we are the adult here,and subsequently,we have the responsibility to set the right example to our pupils.

So,my approach isn’t to view saying sorry as a weakness,but as a strength because it glues us all together,and our pupil knows that we are a human being that we are trying our best to make things run as smoothly as possible.

So,in conclusion,my Listenning journey isn’t complete yet,but along the way,I have made inroads into being a good enough father,Husband,and teacher.Truthfully,I will be pursuing my goal as long as I’m needed in this role.

Thanks for yet again,indulging me in my muse,it appreciated.


“There seems to be a chill in the air”.

Morning activity,a rushed breakfast,frantic checking to find that piece of music,

Oh,how I wish that I could have remembered where I had put it.

Funny how I can recite hundreds of Italian terms,names of composers,their birth dates and so on,

But can’t remember where I left a piece of music.Funny that!

This chill in the air doesn’t stop the birds singing in my garden,doesn’t halt their symphony,

So I’m off to work with the chill in the air.

With gratitude,I have my new coat,it helps me to cope with this weather,

My wish is that I might inspire my pupils today to connect with their curiosity gene,and it’s my vocation to try to unlock that curiosity.

As I go off now,my long lost family who did jobs where danger wasn’t just academic,it was real,

They never had the opportunities that I have had,they left school at 14,to be thrown into a feral working environment.

So,yes,there is a chill in the air,but I have all the thngs to cope with it,to make a difference to the lives of others.

That piece of music will have to be re-written,it’s in my head,so,enough said.

Have a good day everyone.



It’s the longest word in the dictionary without a vowel,

Musicians spend their time obsessing about.

We all tap our foot to the Rhythm of a favourite tune,

If we didn’t have Rhythm,our existence wouldn’t be the same.

Today,my life has been renewed by it,and these pulses and beats go to augment Rhythms,

My pupils endeavour to play with a strong Rhythm.

It keeps us teaches going,keeps our pulses strong.