So, I’m sat in my kitchen on another Monday evening, desperately trying to keep myself awake after a day of school and a meeting after work, wondering just what it is that keeps me going to Ashford Sinfonia (almost) every week after all these years. I’m going to try and sum it up here.
After Uni, there were several years where my violin case was never opened. I was busy with work and having children. I reached a point where I’d convinced myself that I couldn’t even remember how to play. Eventually it was my old teacher, Layne Aviss, who forced me to try, She was conductor at the time, and I went back to make up the numbers for a concert. My hands shook so hard I could hardly hold my bow.
Anyway, I stuck it out, mainly because I’m stubborn and it got me out of the house. It was also partly because I’d forgotten how much fun playing in an orchestra is and because the group of players I had joined was so welcoming and friendly. No one made me feel as if my mistakes were the end of the world. The priority was making music, not being the Royal Philharmonic!
Skipping forward a couple of years and another baby, I found myself working at Highworth School, not initially as a teacher, but with the chance to start getting involved with the music at school. The confidence I had regained by playing regularly helped me convince the school that I was worth training as a teacher, amazingly, specialising in music. I honestly would never have believed it possible only a few years before.
So, Monday nights still come and I still keep playing. I do it because I have the best laugh of the week trying to watch our “genius” conductor without getting caught. And because I genuinely enjoy trying to fit all the semiquavers in the bar when the music has been ordered from some library without anyone thinking to look at the fiddle parts first.
Mostly I do it because this orchestra, which has given us all the chance to play when many of us wouldn’t, actually did change my life.