Well, firstly thank you to those who tuned in to Radio 5 live – unfortunately the presenter forgot to mention that it was National Downshifting Week! Ah well.
On the Stepping Off programme an awful lot of ground is covered. Many people feel their careers have been a fall-back position; they went to secreterial college as something to fall back on when actually they wanted to to be a photographer. They may have the most incredible (and enjoyavble) career as a PA – but it feels like a fall back position.
Many hobbies and leisure pursuits are given up when we leave school or college… BUT YOU CAN PICK THEM UP AGAIN!!
“Leaving the house with a violin case in my hand took me back nearly 30 years. It was as comfortable an extension of myself as my hockey stick and tennis racket were then; as my laptop and car keys are now.
Two and half hours later I got home having played one or two notes in the right place at the right time during Beethoven’s symphony number 4 and broken my violin. But I had got a taste back for being a part of a wonderful sound. I knew that I wanted to be able to do it again. Mercifully the Cobwebs orchestra seem full of generous musical souls.
I had also realised that when I was young and played music (and sport!) all the time how agile my brain must have been – and how sluggish it has become. Thirty years on I could still read music, I still knew more or less what my fingers should do for each note – I was struggling to trying to count in time, or at least be able to see and register the movement of the conductor. I needed to hear in my head how the music should sound. Then I needed to make a sound that at the very least least didn’t clash.
I struggled to distinguish the different strands of music and melody. Deciphering the score was a challenge – not least because of my eyesight – the high notes way of the stave had become a mystery to me. Sitting next to me was a valiant musician who managed to keep going in spite of the occasional tuneless, embarrassed scrapings coming from me. I think she knew I wouldn’t be that much help as I muttered “what a lot of notes!” each time I turned the page. Respite for her wasn’t far away – my violin was getting flatter and flatter and I realised the gut holding the tail-piece in position was slipping. Blessed with an excuse for wrong notes I thought it best to sit in silence. And turn the page. I was good at that.
The saddest thing was after the impossible Beethoven it was Elgar, two Enigma variations. Including Nimrod. Fewer notes and further apart! I could have played quite a lot of it, I think. If there was only one reason to keep me going back it would be to play a small part in evoking the feelings Nimrod has always inspired in me. Thank you Mother.”
I’ve fixed my violin and been three times now… I can’t wait to be better, so I’d better practice! It’s all about committing a chunk of time to doing something you want to do for yourself – and we sometimes get out of the habit.