Early on I was given a number of solos at school after wining the school competition notably in the Messiah concert in 1995 I sang But Who May Abide and O Thou that Tellest with the school orchestra. I had a duet with Tim Kiddell in Handel's second passion our head chorister and Kings Scholar and a few other things. I tried twice to compete in singing at music college but my musicality let me down early on and the thing that saved me was paint lessons with Jan Ehnes in Wuppertal he got me my second study piano exam. I decided I didn't want to perform back then and go into composition instead. My time at music college in Wuppertal wasn't a disaster. Contrary to popular belief I passed every exam but the singing and was a student rep.
In the meantime because of my background at public school run in England I was given a very broad education and not quite the same as at a specialist music school like Cheethams or Purcell School but one with a full programme of 10 GCSEs and 3 A Levels so I was qualified as a language teacher as well which I used to gain money as a student in Wuppertal and Cologne. I gave up for a while because it looked as though languages would really take off but disaster struck when I'd finished my MA at Essex and they thought I'd always been a musician, mainly because I was a member of their Classical Music Society and practiced learning 6 piano pieces on my own five hrs a day and annoying the hell out of the language teachers. I remember being told to shut up and go home quite literally on one occasion getting to grips with Für Elise. Eventually I did a concert of these six pieces for my family in 2010. Erste Verlust by Schumann, Rondo by Mozart, Sonatina in C by Clementi, Cuckoo Rondo by Daquin, Waltz by Gurlitt, and Für Elise by Beethoven.
After which I began improvising and composing and tracking them on my computer simply at first random patterns and improvised vocal lines many of which are on my Soundcloud presence. I then decided to try and play Beethoven Opus 79 on my own without a teacher. I practiced 6 hrs a day for a year on the first movement and fell flat on my face so that my pianist friend form college Victoria Valerstein as she then was couldn't bear to listen and told me to play in time to a metronome, but I had actually in attempting to play it internalised the structure of a sonata movement and wrote one on Sibelius. Piano sonata one was born and it took 6 months to write. The last movement coming to me out of thin air having heard a madrigal by the name of Bell Angioletta' by Gesualdo and bears its' name as the third movement is heavily influenced by it. II then just had a massive creative spurt to write music and am on piano sonata 18 now. I've also written 2 concertos, a string quartet and 5 violin sonatas which have been self published with programme notes.I still haven't had a single composition lesson despite now being in the first year of an academic music degree with Open University in MK. I know I'm not the best singer but I have got a great voice even if I'm now a rush tenor or baritone depending on my choir's needs. I believe as parsing and speaking are in linguistics I see musical interaction and performance as well as theoretical music as part of the same creative process in composition. There is a recording of Hallelujah I got down with a mobile phone. That shows the full potential of my voice.....I'm not 100% happy with it but it's recorded. It's just the penultimate phrase not the improvisation that bothers me. It shows the potential I had as vocalist though. I was quite good to have one my school competition at 17 following in the footsteps fo the great Ben Parry.
With my instruments I just wish my parents had given me a piano aged five rather than a fiddle because I was forced to start piano at 15 and wasn't at all motivated at first. I was an average violinist and a talented young singer who needed to learn harmony and keyboard skills as part of a balanced musical education, but it was that I had a real talent for it and what I could have been as a pianist had my parents had the foresight to let me find my instrument rather than making me stick to what I'd chosen first I'm sure I would have been a good concert player. I might one day get a Haydn sonata out of me. I know I'm good and I've only had three and a half years lessons, the rest I thought myself. I taught myself to play four octaves in all 24 keys for example. I also taught myself for grades 6,7 and 8 ABRSM theory. On the violin I learned Swedish, Irish and Scottish folk music and went to 2 violin summer camps. I've played on and off since 1985 and have been known to frequent orchestras as a second fiddler which is useful as a composer. I played a Haydn organ concerto for SBMS the amateur orchestra quite well I just didn't cope with Beethoven 6 that well.
article submitted by:Hugh Waldock, Waldock, Hugh