Learning to Play an Instrument – My Personal Musical Journey: Part 1

Why learn to play an instrument and the journey involved in learning them-from a teacher’s perspective!

My memories of my musical journey are wrapped up in my family, growing up and my home. We always had a music room with book-shelves full of endless music books, scores, sheets, a piano and music stands with cassette tapes and then in later years cd’s when they came into existence. My Aunt was the main musical person in my family and at age 86 she still plays organ for her village church for services, weddings and funerals. Whenever we got together when I was a child, music making would take place in the form of mini lessons and performing. I still have a cassette recording of my Aunt and I playing together on her harpsichord….anyone got a cassette player? I have a vivid memory of performing to a group of my family and friends at my family home that my mum had organised, for me to sing and play to. All guests were subject to my haphazard peu faux’s!

I tagged along to my mum and sister’s piano lessons at age 5 and hopped on the piano stool for the last ten minutes of their lessons, here and there…..suffice to say I never managed to get past putting my left and right hand together. I could never quite get the coordination right. I found it very frustrating! So scales, arpeggios and some melody or bass part playing is all I’ve been equipped to do since …except for being able to play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata for a short spell!

Not sure how I managed that; maybe with more practice I could have been a pianist…



I started singing at age 6 and I thankfully took to it more easily, with good teachers to guide me. My mum and I sang together in church choirs whilst I joined the school singing groups once we moved to Devon age 8. I went to a Musical Theatre group outside of school with my mum and then also undertook grades in ABRSM with various singing teachers, taking my Grade 8 at age 17. During my A’ Levels I was involved in a Musical Theatre Performing Arts Academy with a former Les Miserable cast member, as the coach. Coaching on the microphone in his recording studio at his home and recording me once again on a cassette with On My Own from Les Miserable, amongst other songs…..again, anyone got a cassette player?!

So, where does the cello fit in?…..Once it was clear that I had some music in my bones, my mum encouraged me to take up the violin at age 7. I dreaded going to my violin lessons as the teacher was a bit odd and drew the curtains whilst teaching so it was too dark to see the music. I also recall that her dog looked like Toto from The Wizard of Oz. A very clear and odd childhood memory!! Suffice to say I stopped violin lessons very quickly.

At age eleven a musical instrument show and tell, from teachers in our area, came to my school and held me as a captive audience member! I was interested in the flute and cello and got to try them both out. I fell in love with the cello, clearly not thinking through the logistics of how it would be transporting and carrying a large instrument, case and music bag.

At age 12 I was invited to join my areas youth music centre to play with their orchestra, consisting of students of undoubted potential and ability. This was totally out of my comfort zone, for sure, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I continued to play in the various school orchestras and in my A’ Levels was leader of my sections. I also played solo with my cello teacher and took grades with ABRSM. The last Cello grade I sat was my Grade 5 at age 14………..

To be continued!!!

Bokk a lesson! Singing or Cello!

Did you know? – Sadly, only 20% of kids learn to play music – but over 70% of adults wish they had!
Make sure your kids get the advantages a music education offers, contact me now…

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