SOMETHING I tripe on about ALL the time; music. I really love music, I don't know many people that don't quite honestly. One of THEE most wonderful things about music is that there is an innumerable way to appreciate it and every single person has their own relationship with it.
This is mine;
BACK THEN. Growing up I always loved listening to music, as again, I don't know many people that don't. There are a few poigniant musical moments that stand out for me growing up where I can remember exactly where I was and what twigged the beginning of my musical loves and obsessions; When I was around 8 years old I fell in love with Michael Jackson and I can remember the exact moment. Top of The Pops was playing on the family tv in the front lounge. If you don't know what TOTP is - google it - it doesn't run anymore but for a good forty years or so the BBC would play the UK top 40 and broadcast it on the television - mostly they'd bring the bands into the studio to play their singles live, but occasionally, if a star couldn't make it to the studio (usually the international stars) they'd show their video during the show. Well, we were watching TOTP and the show had just ended and I was left in the lounge on my own as my family members were going back to their rooms to do whatever and that's when I saw it. Michael Jackson's 'You Rock My World' video!! They played the whole thing at the end of the show. (it's like 8/9 minutes long - as I learnt later Jackson likes to make stories out of his music videos) Anyway I was dumbstruck - the beat, the grove, the dancing. That was it, I was transfixed. I remember running into my brother's room straight after it had finished having actively memorized the pop-star's name (as TOTP would often have written facts about the artists and their music running underneath while the songs were playing) and asking if he knew who a 'Michael Jackson' was. He just laughed at me. It's important to know at this point that although I was eight years old my siblings were a lot older than me and my brother was 20, having lived through the 80's and the 90's when I asked him this question. So yeah, he knew who Michael Jackson was. He then handed me a double disked CD of his and I ran upstairs to play it on my MASSIVE, old, clunky, chunky stereo that used to be my Dad's. I played that CD non-stop for months and throughout my childhood and teenage years I sort of discovered him backwards - starting in 2001 going back to when he was in the Jackson 5. I loved him. I also remember receiving a portable cassette player when I was younger and my grandma giving me an ABBA tape and obsessing over ABBA for a long while and then another TOTP moment where 'Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy' was playing on TOTP2 (the same show but where they play the oldies) and I loved it instantly. I discovered Queen from this and played their greatest hits album on my portable CD player nearly every day in the summer that year when I was about ten.
OTHER INFLUENCES. I also grew up listening to the likes of 10cc, The Eagles and The Beegees because that's what my parents would listen to and then I have an infinite memory of my sister constantly listening to 80s music Madonna, Cyndi Lauper etc. And my brother's who listened to 90s dance and trance.
So how is that growing up around a seriously pop cultured household that I ended up studying and dying for Classical music? Jazz music? and most especially Opera of all things?
SO. First time I really played the piano. I was 14, my mum had a keyboard with weighted keys and I had just heard her listening to a piece of music (that I later found out was named 'Hugh' - by a group called 'Nightnoise') I just remember hearing it and thinking 'I'm going to give that a go'. So weird now that I think back on it. I just remember seeming really confident that I was going to be able to play it. I put earphones of the song underneath the headphones of the keyboard and within half an hour had the whole piece down, both hands playing quickly and from memory. I remember showing my mum and dad and them freaking out. Now their freaking out makes sense to me - I'd never played before or done anything specifically piano-ey before and then suddenly, whaaaat? From this moment my interest in music kept growing. I was paying more attention to the music around me, specifically music in film and began putting my hand to composing and learning pieces that really appealed to me.
THEN. When I was about 16 I had trouble with what I had chosen to study at 6th form and dropped out. I had thought that I'd like to go to music college but didn't think I was good enough. What would my main instrument be? Piano? Violin? (I played violin throughout school but I was seriously crap. Never practiced. Always Crap!) So after quitting 6th form my Dad sent me (funnily enough to where I live now..) Utah, as my Uncle lived here. Him and his wife are opera singers. I came to stay for 3 months and didn't really know why I felt I needed to be here but on the last weekend of my stay - my Uncle asked me if I'd ever tried singing before and I basically just laughed at him, but they were really acclaimed opera singers and vocal teachers so I figured turning them down would be beyond stupid - I mean turning down a free lesson from ex met star and current byu opera director/vocal professor - you just don’t do that? Anyway my Uncle checked my range and asked me to imitate what I thought an opera singer might sound like then just turned to me and said ‘Yeah, you could take that as your first instrument' and so that's what I did. I worked my way through grade 8 and took voice as my first instrument at college and always desired to do more.
and NOW. My life is just that. The 'more' part. Lots of things happened in between these events of course, that was back when I was 16/17 and now I'm 25. But one thing that happened in that moment was that my love and appreciation for classical music and opera really, really grew. It's taken me a long time but I've finally found some kind of way to channel my love for music and my abilities as a musician and found people that believe in my abilities too, this I have said before but can not stress the importance of it enough, finding someone to hone in on your talents and push you at them is an invaluable thing to find in this world. And one day I hope to be able to help others in this way.
MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MUSIC changes all the time. My relationship with music and what I listen to is different to my relationship with music and who I am as a performer, which is different again to my relationship with music and myself as a composer and different again to my relationship with music and myself as an analyst. I try not to get hept up on the perfectionist inside of me and just try and DO, again something else I'm learning. Sometimes you have to break a good thing to make it better and that process is sometimes really hard to go through and come out of unbroken the other side. The best way to get through it is simply just to DO. When you study music it can sometimes give you a headache and create buckets and buckets of frustration. Mainly frustration with yourself. Something I've turned to for freedom in music is simply grabbing the Uke, sitting outside on the porch and playing anything, humming anything and singing anything. Because playing the ukulele and singing in pop styles aren't what I aim to be good at or do as a profession so there's no pressure when I play around with it. And this has been a nice addition to my ever growing relationship with music.
Well that's my story and relationship with music. What's yours?
Peace and Music to you all, ✌
Brit. U.S.resident. Lover of Opera. Believer of dreams.