How I became a musician

One day just before my 65th birthday in 2009,  I sat at lunch with friends and said, without forethought, ‘I think I’ll learn to play the oboe’. ‘Why?’, I was asked. I had no idea – but the seed was sown.
Oboe became clarinet – in my youth I used to go to 100 Oxford Street and listen to the jazz bands – Chris Barber, Kenny Ball and, of course, Acker Bilk and his Paramount Jazz Band.
By the end of that week I had a rented aclarinet and my first lesson.
I had no music knowledge except for striking skins in a 60s rock band, didn’t understand those dots with squiggles presented to me and had no idea what I was in for, learning such an instrument. But I knew now that I had to learn ‘Stranger on the Shore’. I had found an enthusiastic and talented teacher who seemed to understand me and off we went.
I had said ‘no exams’ and ‘just want to play for fun’. But I started to get frustrated not understanding how I was progressing; so we booked Grade 3 and by the Autumn I had that passed. Six months later I sat Grade 4 – it was the week I moved here from Bristol – move in, shuffle some furniture, get back to Bristol. Tired and full of black coffee I somehow passed that also.
The next three years were roller coaster – business was a challenge just as the economy took a nose dive and Jan needed a lot of help moving her business.
And we were still believing we only needed one car – after all, in Bristol we often didn’t even need one.
The economy started to improve and, of all luck, along came TfO last March. Except that the tweet I saw said grade 6+. Well, I reckoned I was better than 4 and maybe a fair 5 so I thought I would ask; Jane and Ed were very encouraging – and tolerant – at the first run through. Some of it was scary – OK for everyone more skilled and experienced and probably not able to grasp how much of a challenge this was going to be.
But gradually over the year I have learned and become more confident, With support from others in the section and with tips and encouragement from Alan, I gradually feel more competent; some pieces that appeared impossible less than a year ago now seem quite possible.
Of course I must improve my tone, watch dynamics and get better articulation. And watch Ed more when I dare take my gaze from the music.
This is an adventure that I could not have dreamed of when I first touched a clari nearly six years ago. And I intend to keep learning and improving so long as I am welcome and feel encouraged.
One day, when I am old, I will have something magical to look back upon.