I grew up above a music shop in a small town on the Scottish border. They would practice bagpipes in the car park behind our house on a Sunday morning. There was the music played in the kitchen while my mum was cooking: classical piano concertos or the Rolling Stones. and my dad's folk rock and blues in the living room.
I had piano lessons at school which i did not enjoy. I have had many music teachers in my life but my first music teacher did not inspire me. At home I spent all my time listening to my favorite songs and figuring them out on the guitar by ear. I was playing by ear before I could read a note of music and i have always thought listening to music and understanding it was far more useful than copying it from a page. I started putting chords together and writing my own songs after I had worked through a couple of chapters of a beginners rhythm guitar book.
I have worked at and performed at many music festivals in the ancient English countryside, sat in on many Irish music jam sessions, belonged to several choirs, written and recorded all sorts of music: folk, jazz, blues, with friends, students and complete strangers. The performance I am most proud of is the song I performed at my grandmothers funeral.
While I had been looking after my grandmother I decided to quit my job at the library and become a music teacher. I wanted to dedicate myself to music teaching. That was over ten years ago. I have been working one to one with students, full time ever since.
I have seen the positive changes in people and their lives that learning a musical instrument can make. Many of my students have played at their own weddings, recorded songs I helped them write, performed songs I have taught them or played songs for their children at bedtime. It has been hard work but teaching and music has and continues to be, a joy for me. I want to share that with you.
I also led a song based guitar workshop for 5 years at St Mary's Church on the Gateshead Quayside. We had so much fun arranging and playing the songs they loved from Elvis to the Eagles with lots of Beatles and Stones in between. I have so many fond memories of the group. Long may they play.
I have most recently been involved as a volunteer for the Jazz cooperative in Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK. The only jazz venue owned and run by a cooperative. As well as running the vintage swing jazz nights I helped to coordinate and schedule the jazz education program which has supported hundreds of musicians in the north east to learn and participate in music making, improvisation, jams and performance.