Monthly Archives: February 2016

To know

When what is dear is so clear,what is there to fear,

What is there to hide,when everything is said.

That search for honesty starts with ourselves,

That knowing that we are worthy of unimaginable love.

When the zeal of youth is replaced by the realism of age,

We can be afraid,afraid of the storms of life that seem to overwhelm.

So we test,we expose,we feel a sense of the loss of might have been,

As when our life has been affected by profound hurt.

Although it’s not our fault,we punish ourselves with self doubt,

But that excelling love,that glorious Agape beckons us as our rightful reward.

To know that we have loved,and have been loved is the greatest justification for our existence ever,

It eclipses all others things,it defeats all other things,this knowledge that our existence was treasured,needed.


The Discipline of music.

Music can be described as organised sound.Yes,it also needs gaps to make punctuation,it needs a pulse,it needs a structure.All of these elements go to make music.

Sometmes,the words musician and organised might appear to be contradictory.Its not the impression that most people get of musicians,that is that they are organised,but they have to be in oh so many ways.

Practice is never a goal,it is a way of life,fuelled by a desire for excellence,so those minutes when you are playing take you to anther world,a nether world of sonic pleasure.If I could have all the thousands of hours that I have spent playng,and practising the piano back again,then maybe I would have read more books,concentrated better at school,travelled more.However,I didn’t,and now I don’t think it matters.

What matters is that those hours have had their affect on me,they have shaped me.They have allowed me to be a good listener.Apart from actually doing music,I have spent hours in a day thinking about music,it is to many an indulgent muse,but,to me,it is my identity.

Yesterday while a adult pupil was talking about their new car,I was struggling to concentrate,and thinking about a Blues song by Joss Stone.Yes,on one level,it was rude,but on another,it’s me being honest.I suppose,we are who we are,we might try to pretend otherwise but that is the case with me.

Recently,since I have been out of hospital,I’ve had some days where I’ve felt like sounds had left me at times,maybe it was all the fog of the pain killers,I know not,but that was the feeling.When that came back to me this week,I think due to the support from my family and friends,I feel a lot better.Although I have tried to carry on through that time,when it lifted on Wenesday,I felt so so happy.Then,I could hear my own sounds in my head so much clearer,I felt alive.Yes,before,I could sort of function,and still try to teach on one level,but only on that day was I really in touch with my inner being.One of my dearest friends told me that I should rest on the Monday,I took the advice,and it worked.As I am now,I find myself taking advice more as I get older.I take it from my family,friends,and my adult pupils.This might appear to show a weak mind,but it is me as I write this blog post on this day.

When you know who you are,part of that is accepting that it is important to know your limitations,of which I have many.

I know that my family and friends love me.Granted,they might find me a tad frustrating at times,but love me nontheless they do.That makes me feel good,and I tell them that.Yes,I’m a creative person,always have been,if I have sounds in my head,in the world about me,then I am happy.

Today,I write my profound thanks to all my family and friends who over the past few weeks have made that possible.

  My love to them all.


Just Because!

Just because the Sun has  gone down,doesn’t mean the light i n our heart has gone out,

All our dreams,our hopes,our pulses,our passions,carries on when the Sun goes down.

Lift up your eyes,use your eyes,engage your Brain,let your emotions reside in your Kidneys,

For this is the whole driving force of the life that is organic,a life within itself.

Treasure the gift of music in your life.

Today,I’m going to play on my piano some old favourites,some of my most happy times in life have been spent at the Piano.It has always impressed me,that no matter how bad I think my playing might be,I always return to it in the end.

It’s part of the pulses of my life.When I’m able to get to the instrument,all the other stuff in life seems less stressed.Am I lucky?Why yes,there are oh so many people who have to live without any emotional outlet for their feelings.There are people who are homeless,in care,or just feeling desperately lonely.That must be tough.So I know just how lucky I am,just how happy music makes me feel,but even more so,to teach it,and to share it with others is indeed a special thing.

Seeing the delight on a child’s face when they have mastered a favourite piece is indeed one of my personal joys.Witnessing their expression as they hear something new.This really matters,this affects us,this is important.So,although music can be demanding,and teaching is a profession that drains you,it is worth it,it really is.

To me,no time spent with a child,or an adult is ever wasted,it just can’t be,it’s just great to beable to do that.

Yes,teaching has always been a vocational profession to me.Yes,I get that certain hygiene factors are important in life,but that hasn’t always been the driving force for me,and I have often lost track of time in a lesson and gone way over the limit allotted.But that isn’t what it’s all about,it can’t be really.

To me,it’s about communication,it’s something that we all have inside of us,this wanting to feel things,to be alive.Music can do that for people,and it does it without asking for too much in return.Its such a gift to us,it really is.

When the expressive are denied to people because of income,or social standing,or race,then alarms for the furtherance of society go up for me.Open access to the arts is essential for all people.

Whatever our minds might be thinking of in a day,I doubt if a day goes by when a person is not listening to some music,be it classical or contemporary.Music is all around us,in many ways,it’s part of our DNA.So we should foster the love of it,reach out with it to others.We should compliment our fellow musicians,pleased with their progress,not jealous of their talents,that is so crass.

As we furnish joy in our lives in whatever we do,may music have a part to play in that contract that we want to have with ourselves,and that is to love ourselves.Without being able to love ourselves,it is neigh on impossible to love others.People need to feel love,it is such a basic human need.

Music produces its own balm to lubricate us from the perils of life.

Thank you for your kind attention.


The joy of teaching music.!

Music is the universal language,it can unite us,excite us,make us laugh,make us cry,fill us with wonder and awe.

There are just so many wonderful things that happen when we share our music together .When we put self to one side,sharing what we have with others,why,that can bring us so much joy.Its that theme that I want to write a few words now.From a very young child,I have loved “organised sound”,I have loved the human voice,and when properly,it can send shivers down your spine.Why,just to have heard live music is a real joy.Of course,the more brilliant performances that we have been party to,t often a temptation to be too picky.However,as thngs have a habit of evening themselves out,life teaches us so many different things,and music to me is one of life’s great teachers.

If we can encourage anyone to broaden their musical horizons,then we should definitely do it.However,we dnt do that for any ego trip,or mostly for any reward,we do it for the joy of education.That aspect of passing something on from persn to person is,I know,very special,it’s profound,it’s vital.If we can do that for someone so that they feel dignified,and not belittled that too is essential.
Looking to my own teachers,I was fortunate enough to have teachers who gave of themselves,their time,and their resources to further education.They passed on the baton to me,and in a small way,I picked it up.So,as I see it,it is my vocation to pass on whatever knowledge I have to others.As I write that,I might insert the word duty in this regard,yes, feel that t is my duty to pass on to others what I know.Of course,as a teacher,you are aware of how much and in what way you do this,but the emphasis is on actually doing it.Stepping up is the thing,it’s essential,and it’s real to me.

As the wise sage Solomon once said”Cast ye your bread upon the waters…………”.You never know where your teachng will lead,you really don’t.

The other day,I read an interesting stat:20% of children learn music,and 70% of adults wish they had.As a teacher,I am always aware of that,it is what makes me tick,it’s what I get out of bed in the morning for.Yes,I never think that I get it completely right,because the teachng f music is so subjective,but I know that I make a difference to so many,and I will c tinge to do that for the next few years at least.

As I have written before,I dnt take myself seriously,but I take what I do seriously.That,to me,is a good yardstick by which to be.

Thank you for your attention of my blog.


We need love songs!

Why do we need songs and songwriters?

It’s a big question,and one that I’ve been thinking about these last few days.You see,during the Second World War,one of Churchill’s ministers called for the complete end to arts funding.That great Briton replied thus;”Then what are we fighting for?” It was such a profound reply,and that I why I state it at the beginning of my blog post.

One of my Facebook friends sent me a message that she had written some songs this week,and that she would be singing them at a Cambridge club this evening.To me,this is the life blood of music.Stories with melody,harmony and beat.She was so ,so excited to tell me about it that I could feel it in her words.

So,on a provincial level,that still goes on in Britain,and I’m pleased to say that Busking is a big part of music making.

All of us will have our favourite music that will profoundly affect us,as I do.Some of my choices surprise my classical friends because their life experiences have differed from mine.Yes,my knowledge of classical has profoundly affected me,but as a friend said to me recently abut another thing,it hasn’t defined me as such.

My mixture of musical tastes makes perfect sense to me,in fact,I would go as far as saying that it’s healthy to have a broad spectrum of musical interests.Some Polemics of modern music site the life style of its music makers,or their followers.However,I’m not really sure if Elvis Costello -a truly great song writer,who is very close to Burt Bacharach-really is such a bad role model.Thinking of Andrew Gold,Stephen Bishop,and Jackson Browne to name but three.These have written songs that millions of people would call the sound tracks of their lives,and they do that for something that lasts just over three minutes.

Most people enjoy listening to music,some of us are obsessed with it,and I’m in the latter camp.Yes,I love introducing myself to new music,and sharing it with my friends,it’s just me.When my son was home,we would spend whole evenings just listening and talking about music,it made me feel good inside.

When our whole family are at home,we each take it in turns to chose a track,and the game goes on for a few hours.Yes,we all have such diverse tracks.We each of us say why we like it,and we respectfully listen to the other member of our family.We have been doing this for a while now.Often,we do it while playng a board game as well.Its a simple thing,but it gets us talking though music.That,to me,is quite powerful.

My friend will play her pieces tonight,there will be an audience there.No,it’s not X-factor,just people enjoying live music with their friends.To me,it’s worth fighting for.

Thanks for your interest in my blog post.


Finding happiness in simple things!

This evening,I was able to walk my dogs for the first time in two weeks.Its been a routine for years,but when it gets interrupted,you miss it somehow.

It got me thinking that as is often said,we are creatures of habit.As my dogs are still on the young side,I took them out individually.It felt good to be back in my routine again,and I hoe to be up to taking them out tomorrow.

Livng near the forest as we do here in East Dorset,it’s a wonderful resource in our back yard.Ive forgotten that I had be missed by dog walkers too in my community.In a small town,it’s a bit of a lottery as to wether people will talk to you,but when you have dogs,people stop and pass the time of day with you.To be honest,it was a good feeling to have my humanity acknowledged.As I get older,it seems to be more important.As a younger man,I was too busy making my way to care f people said hello,but now,I am the polar opposite.

Now,I am famed for not prying int people’s lives in my family,but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like human contact.I’ve got to know many people through dog walking,it’s been a good thing.

Now,privacy is to be guarded I know,but as a trusted friend said to me recently,”you have to let people in”,and she is right.

We are learning lessons all the time,and when those lessons are delivered with empathy,it can be very powerful.Fresh air does have a pleasing affect on us all.

My dog walking was a very positive thing today.Yes,it is such a simple thing,but it has had a profound affect on me,and as I wrote previously,you can find so much joy in doing the simple things.Thank you.


“Music for pleasure”.

When we are not governed by having to be a perfectionist,thngs happen to us that are truly liberating.My point in writing this is that today I played my Piano for the second time.Having a break in playing has helped me to get back into the joy of playing.Yes,I would say that I made mistakes when I played just now,but all in all,I was just happy that I was able to play,able to lose myself in the process of music making.

This,to me,represents a bit of a see change.You see,fr many years,I have been quite a musical perfectionist,and not able to to enjoy my playng fr the sake of it.That level of tension hasn’t really helped me,it hasn’t added to my appreciation.Wether  my experience could be applied to ther aspects in life,I know not.Yes,it’s true that quite a lot of my time is spent on doing music as a job,however,that really isn’t the case fully.There have been many occasions over the years when I could have been less intense abut it,and wasn’t.So,as I see it,we can make changes in thngs that we often have done before,and my changes,healping us to enjoy life more.

If we are doing music at any level,or any creative thing for that matter,it’s something to ponder on.Yes,it’s good to do well,but not at the expense of our piece of mind.

My mind has returned to this phrase;”Take what you do seriously,but not yourselves”.That seems a sensible thing to me.

As I look back on my session on the piano just now,I was glad that I was able to play my favourite Mozart a piano sonata,It the one that has the “Rondo Alla Turka”,that is played at the end.It still excites to play this iced after all these years.Yes,today,I didn’t play the whole work-nearly 30 minutes of playing-but I was pleased with the edited programme.

After Mozart,I decided to have a change,and played some Genesis.I played”Throwing it all away”, “Invisible touch”,and “In too Deep”.From a teenager,I have always liked the line-up of each Genesis manifestation.From the early days of Hackett,Bruford,Gabriel,Rutherford and Banks,I have always enjoyed their stuff.With the arrival of Phill Collns dame a new direction,but they have been a constant in my listening and playing over the years.So,to play some of their stuff again was a great feeling.

So,as these years in my life where I want to write about what I do,I wanted to put it out there that we can enjoy something without being perfect at it.Yes,it’s true,that music by its essence has that affect where forget it’s sounds unless they are recorded.Words,I know,have a far more profound affect on us,especially if they are written in an acidic way.

Music is subjective,and has its own merit without us always giving a polemic of it.Some music I love-not because of its structure-but because of the memories that it evokes,the friendships that it fosters,the emotion of us all.

My school friend,Glen,loved music.Yes,he wasn’t technically very good at it,but does that matter.We shared our love of it.I used to simplify music for him,and he used to do my science homework.He,in many ways,excelled in medicine,but still loves music,and I like to think that I have had a small share in facilitating that enjoyment.

It’s funny when you become unable to do something for a time just how grateful you are to get back to it.Its like a Renaissance,a whole fresh start.



“Tickling the Ivories after an enforced break”!

After a two week period of abstinence,I finally did it.Yes,I played my Piano.Its quite a thing when you have spent everyday day for the past 45 years tickling the ivories to have stopped.Yes,illness prevented me from playng the old Joanna.

My relationship with my piano is like any other really.There are times of wonderful affection,my best friend,my soul mate,my partner,the other side of me as it were.However,at times,there is a reticence to communicate,a cool atmosphere,a dare I say it domestic.But,I always realise that the longest relationship that I have ever had has been with my Piano.As I write it,it sounds weird,and it is.Everyone who is truly in my life understands that about me,it’s at one,a redeeming thing,and at the other a fault line.

From a child,music has always drawn me in one way or the other.Having had these distractions in music for the whole of my life,I feel so fortunate that I have family and friends who understand this love.The Greeks have four words to encompass love not its entirety,they are Agape,that is,the love as a moral principle,Storge,the love that exists thng the bonds f the family,Philia,which is the affectionate love that we have with our friends,and finally,Eros,the love of sexual attraction.

Well,when I say that I love my piano,I sort of mean my affection for it,but it is,to me,like a member of my family.Today,I sat and improvised for about 30 minutes.It was a special time,although it was later on in the evening,it was 30 minutes of an internal light for me.Yes,I had had these sounds in my head for quite a period,it needed the gravity of the atmosphere to vibrate in me.When I was a child,because I didn’t have a piano for a while,you had to go t the church to practice.It was often cold,and Sometmes scary.Tonight,it wasn’t cold,it wasn’t scary.I dnt know why I’m writing this in my blog,I just write what I feel I suppose.

As I see it,I’ve gotten through a health scare,and I got back to doing what I do.Yes,I miss my pupils very much,because they put up with my musical indulgences,my obsession with it.Many of my pupils have loads o f other  stuff going on in their lives.Its tough for them,and I appreciate what they do to further their musical progress.They are on my mind,and I want to be stronger to get back to teachng them.However,tonight was a big by step to me.

If my Piano could talk,it might say that I appeared very rusty tonight,very vague,almost afraid.However,I’m not afraid of that sort of fear,I will get back to me,like I’m not afraid to say how I feel about anything.As I see it,you can be yourself,or something that others demand of you,only to realise that they don’t always know themselves,let alone you.My Piano might have gone on to say that she missed me,that would like for me to visit her again,that she has all the notes,all I have got to do is to cook them up into a pleasing musical dish.

Recently,I heard about one of my special pupils who described what music she would take with her on a desert Island.She described needing  music to perform different tasks in order to survive on this Island.This,I think,was a salient thng to say fr music is infinitely practical as well as emotional.My enforced sabbatical from the piano has given me a valuable lesson of not denyng who I am,and that is a Piano Player,and teacher,no more,no less.Yes,I’m not a bad guy at heart,and I try to help people to thrive,but that is me.

I’m kinda happy with that.



“In praise of Kindness”

Mark Twain wrote;Kindness is the language that the deaf and hear,and the blind can see.

It’s a beautiful sentiment and one that has often struck me in my life.As I reflect on its power to do good now,I feel that there are so many kindnesses being shown throughout the world,but for the sheer weight of sadness that often pervades us,is not always reported.

As is our human want,we are fed a diet of negativity be it in the media,or by our own persnal lens.Yes,life can be sad as we all know.However,it can be truly good,and there are oh so many fine people caring about others.

During my recent hospital stay,I can vouch for the care of the surgeon,registrar,and junior staff members who looked after me.Yes,that old mantra might have some merit;”Well,it’s their job”,but I honestly felt cared for and dignified.As the coverage of supposed problems in the NHS reaches the debating rooms,and Pubs and coffee shops,I just wonder if we need to think a little more before we pay too much attention to our media.

As I saw it,there were some young people there at the start f their careers trying to care for parts of the population who were sick.Yes,I’m sure you get rogue Doctors at times,and I’m sure that weekend cover might be at a lower level than in the week,but I’m not convinced that it’s as bad as we have heard.

Yes the saying “No two persons ever read the same book” is very salient here,and others might have had some negative times in hospitals,as we have over the years wth our son,but even then,I know that their efforts were always sincere,even if we had to travel to GOSH or Royal Brompton in the end.

It’s cutting people some slack,letting them have the chance to flourish,that is an important point to me.

Kindness doesn’t require great intellect,it doesn’t require vast sums of money,but as Twain said,it’s a special language.