Archive for December, 2012


As the year draws to a close I have been thinking about the changes that it has brought. Now, I have rules for this blog: don’t personalise my posts and don’t talk about work. Well I am about to break (ever so slightly) both. Looking back on the posts I can see that I have a preoccupation with music. Music is a very important part of my being, it has often been the engine that drives me forward and at other times  the ballast that anchors me to the here and now or to put it another way it is both metaphysical and rational depending on my mood and circumstance. Sometimes, when the fancy takes me, I think that the sound of God or whatever is out there can be heard in those twelve notes. Music, like time, moves forward leaving its trace in our memory.

An old friend reminded me of the connection between the two at the mid-point of the year. He said to me: ‘You need to fall in love with music again’. He could see what I could not.  To put it simply, it no longer meant as much as it once did, time had changed me and the way I related to music.  His words danced a furious step in my head for two restless days and nights. Why? Well because I knew that I could never return to a time previous to the statement. In that moment the nature of our friendship changed and with it our musical relationship had been altered, so much so that both ended.

It is so hard to describe relationships that are built around playing music. Playing together as part of a group changes the air in the room, there is a charge, there is a unity of purpose and it feels like you are riding the wave of a moment in time whilst simultaneously bending rhythm, melody and harmony to a collective will. In that space you create and are created in a time that can never be replicated in quite the same way again.  As you can imagine losing such a relationship can have a profound effect. The effect it had on me made me look in the mirror and question for the very first time in my life whether or not playing music, Jesus even listening to music, was to be part of me anymore.

Yeats (there he is again) in the winter of his life stated that he had to go back to ‘the foul rag and bone shop of his heart’ to create anew. There it was in black and white: go back to the wellspring. However, that is easier said than done. Who to play with? What to play for? That is where work comes in. I teach teenagers and that is all I will divulge except to say that it was there that I found the source again.  I set up a group with a small number of pupils, just as an extra-curricular activity but what I found there reminded me of what I had lost and that which I had lost was the simple joy of playing for its own sake and not for some other end.  Making mistakes and having a laugh has been a big part of it. Finding out that the cobbled together bits and pieces, when joined together, can sound brilliant was another highlight. Oh, but the laughter is the best part, the small laughs, the bigger laughs and the uproarious laughs warmed this cynics soul. Hearing and seeing people find their feet and in turn their voice and confidence is worth all the knocks I have ever taken. To say to someone ‘you have done your best, given it your all and hey it is all a bit of fun’ reminds me of why I teach and, as clichéd as this sounds, why I am human.  What lessons my students have taught and continue to teach me.

This is but a coda. An end of another year is in sight, a year that saw an end of an important passage in my life but also saw another beginning. Like all good codas there is a feeling of resolution. However, the next piece is the bit I am really looking forward to. Have a Merry Christmas and in the words of the late, great Dave Allen ‘thank you, goodnight and may your God go with you.”