Like my older sister, Susan Elkin, I started group violin lessons in our London County Council primary school because our father was a gifted folk fiddler. The English Folk Dance and Song Society produced an annual festival at the Albert Hall in which our parents were heavily involved. At the Saturday afternoon matinee children from all over London were invited to perform their country dances in the interval. The inspirational leader of the massed band, Nan Fleming-Williams, knew I was learning and she took the trouble to write out “A Hundred Pipers” especially for me so that I had only to play the first note in each bar. Thus my first orchestral outing, aged about 8, was in that hallowed venue!
Lessons continued into secondary school and instrumentalists were automatically seconded into the school orchestra – speciality (and default) piece “March from Carmen”. There were many very
talented musicians in the school but I was not one of them. By this time I had discovered a love of sport in general and the crunch came when senior hockey practice clashed with Orchestra. I chose hockey and my exasperated violin teacher said that since orchestra was the only time I practised, there was no point in Father wasting his money on lessons. Thus all manner of sports took over my available hobby time at school and for the next forty years – and I still play golf at least twice a week.
However, I kept my violin safe and was in touch with music through encouraging my own children to learn piano and violin. (and by coincidence my son was at school with Wes whom I remember from school concerts because he was noticeably talented ). When personal circumstances allowed me to take early retirement from paid employment I decided to satisfy a long-buried urge to play the piano and took lessons – even forcing myself to take a couple of hugely nerve-wracking exams. The piano playing encouraged me to rediscover my violin and a chance conversation with a cellist led to our forming a very small local ensemble. We provide the background music for Church coffee mornings and the like. The bit was between my teeth by now so I organised some violin lessons and happened across Benslow Music where I have attended several enjoyable and educational courses. At one of these I met Judy Cohen who was adamant that Ashford Sinfonia would welcome me …
It did and I am loving it – after all it is another team game! Thank you.