This is the first in a series of interviews I've carried out in which my pupils spill the beans about their lessons. First on the bill, we have Jen, this is what she had to say about returning to keyboard lessons as an adult.
How did you get started?
I had music lessons when I was a teenager, and then I became an adult and had some children. I didn’t keep up music lessons throughout those years. When my youngest came for music lessons a year or so ago I thought, you know what? I’d like to get back into it, so I booked myself in too.
What do you like most about learning to play an instrument?
For me, I feel like learning an instrument is a bit like learning a new language. It’s something that keeps my brain busy and it’s something that’s just for me. It’s not something that I’m doing for the kids, or friends, or any family members, or anything like that. It’s just a little thing that’s for me and I love that about it. But I also love that it gives me some headspace away from anything else, just to not have to worry about, or think about, or concentrate on anything at all, literally just the music.
What advice would you give to anyone who is thinking about starting lessons, but maybe feels a little nervous?
I would say we all have to start somewhere. If you can find a tutor that you have a good rapport with, like I do with Marie-Claire, and I’m sure her other students do too, then that certainly really helps. If you can find someone who teaches children and adults and who is versatile in their instruments; then you’ve got more of a chance of finding something that you’ll enjoy and you’ll then stick to as well.
Do you think learning an instrument has had a big impact in your life? How so?
It's been absolutely brilliant, going back to playing this instrument, after nearly a 30 year break. It has surprised me some of the things I’ve remembered, but’s it's also surprised me some of things that I’ve completely forgot and that I’ve needed a help and support with, that I’ve had to go over and re-learn as well. So, it has been a really interesting experience, and one that I’m very happy to continue. I’m excited to continue as well, because even if I look back at where I was when I had my first lessons with Marie-Claire, to where I am now, I wouldn’t have thought that I’d have gone so far in such a short space of time, so I’m really actually proud of myself.
Do you like practising?
Practising is something that when you’re at home and you’ve got everything mounting up, you’ve got all your errands to run, the housework needs doing, and the washing needs doing and x, y and z, it’s really hard to say, right well, I need to not do all of these things, I need to do my practice. That is a difficult thing to do. But if you practice in the same room, and at the same time of day, and get into a routine with that, that’s a good way of making sure that you do get in a least one practice in the week, but preferably more.
Finally, how would you use to describe your teacher?
I really like Marie-Claire, she’s really skilled, she’s got quite a range of different instruments that she plays herself as well. She’s also very supportive and patient (luckily for me), but really, she’s a great kind and supportive tutor and I would recommend her to anybody.