Susan asked me if I could write a piece about Wesley. She jokingly suggested that it could be along the lines of “Now get out there and practise or Father Christmas won’t bring you any presents” but I can’t. That certainly wasn’t our experience.
Wesley was born with a piano attached! My younger daughter, Wendy, is also a very good pianist and she was Wesley’s driving force. From the age of eight all he wanted was to be better than Wendy. But Wendy can play only with music so Wesley decided that to be better than Wendy he would need to learn to play “by ear”.
To achieve this he borrowed a copy of the first cornet tune book used by our band. This has only the melody line – no chords. Wesley sat and practised until he could play the tunes with harmony. And the rest, as they say is history.
However Wesley hasn’t sat one grade exam on the piano because he always said he wasn’t good enough. He passed all his grades on the euphonium. In fact that was what he studied at Goldsmiths College. Yet his piano playing has taken him into Europe, on a couple of tours to the USA and he has played in concert halls all over the UK including the Royal Albert Hall. He has also performed for Royalty. He was the MD for a professional singer, and has appeared on network TV, arranged the music and produced CDs.
PRACTICE? I’m sorry to say that practising was what he did almost 24/7. When he was at uni, he worked as a pianist for a dance school – everything from tap to ballet. On his first day the teacher decided that the warm up session would be “colours” starting off with red. “Wesley could we have some red music please? “What would you like me to play?” he asked. Teacher: “Oh just play something red.” So off he went. Then every few minutes she would call out “Now let’s be….” and would name a different colour and Wes had to just launch into blue, yellow and so on.
At the same time he was the resident pianist at a number of hotels in the area, including Eastwell Manor, Ashford International and others in Folkestone. Because of this he commuted to uni, but that meant he wouldn’t get home until 9.30pm. While he waited for his tea he would go into our back room and play the piano. Even on days when he hadn’t been to uni but had been playing at the dance school ALL DAY it was straight out to the piano.
Anne and I didn’t mind. In fact we loved it. Our home has always resounded with music. As well as Wes, my wife, two daughters and several grandchildren are all into music making and I don’t think I could live without it.
PS I hope this is ok – he will probably kill me – so it’s been nice knowing you.