I recently attended the 25th anniversary concert of the Youth Amateur Dramatics group that I was a part of in my teens.
I have felt a blog about music coming for some time, since I wrote about some of the people who have helped to form me over the years in my old blog, Ordinand Adventures. But the thing is that music and I have not had the smoothest or easiest of relationships, so it took something truly spectacular to inspire a blog about music, such as the MOB’s (Mini Operatic Bunch) Musical Memories concert.
One of my earliest memories of music was sitting as a new member of the church choir and looking across to the women who stood in the stall opposite. I didn’t seem to know many women who were older than me, but younger than my Mum’s generation. But there was one young lady who stood and sang in church, with a lovely voice and pretty, curly hair, who was always very nice to me. I distinctly remember thinking ‘I’d like to be like her when I grow up’.
At the concert, this lady, also a former member of the MOB, sang twice and I was taken back to that moment in church. She sung as one of the first members of the group and also as someone who is still involved in Retford Operatics today. It made me think about the role that music has played in my own life, and the role that it has in my life and job now.
The thing is, I think music is at the foundation of my calling. When looking around sixth form colleges at age 16, a family friend told me this: ‘Figure out what you love and then work out a way to make money doing it’. It’s one of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given.
What do I love to do? I love to sing. I don’t claim to be particularly good at it, but singing, and more specifically, singing to God, is what I love to do more than anything else. It makes my heart soar and my spirit light. I love to sing to God, and I love and long to see other people doing the same. All that I do in my job, I hope, is helping, facilitating, encouraging people to do just that, in whatever way works for them. Psalm 98.4 says: ‘shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music’! It doesn’t happen every day, but this verse captures the joy I often feel about both being a Christian and a deacon. The photo is of me leading worship at a weekend away whilst at University.
But I don’t think I would feel this way without such a good background in music which has ebbed and flowed, but has been pretty much constant throughout my life. In Primary School I (badly) played the violin for 4 years and sung in the church and school choirs.
When I moved to secondary school I ditched the violin and played the flute instead which suited me much better- I actually practised! I was also involved in school plays and shows before joining the MOB at age 13. The first show I did was Honk, followed by Les Mis, and then West Side Story. This is a photo of me in West Side Story, which I really enjoyed doing. My Mum and Dad got together through being part of the same Theatre Group so I have always felt that my love of music, musicals and drama is as much inherited as anything else. I also spent many a happy Saturday morning in the next door town playing my flute at a music school in Concert band and concert orchestra.
Music quietened down a bit when I was doing my A levels. When I got to Uni, one of the things I most missed about home was the chance to sing without holding back, as I wasn’t sure my housemates would have much appreciated my accompanying Elaine Paige on Sunday! I tentatively began singing in worship bands at Church and the CU before joining the cast of Chester Mystery Plays late in 2013 (pictured below), performed in Chester Cathedral. Here, I picked up my flute again and got to sing some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard.
But mostly, I just wanted to say a huge thank you to all who have formed me musically, to all those who have encouraged and supported, especially those at the MOB. The lessons learned in team work and compromise have been invaluable. The confidence I gained as a young person through performing and standing up in front of people, I now use draw upon every week in Church. I owe a huge amount to all those who have taught me music at any point. It is something I love and take great joy in, and I will always be truly grateful to those who give their time to share this gift with others.