Posted by: ronontheroad | May 31, 2013

School Days

I have been thinking about my schooldays rather a lot lately. I guess the main trigger is hearing in the news what was happening while I was there – bad things that so many of us were unaware of. I hope that there is a sense of closure now for those who suffered at the time.

But also, and partly through the recent news articles, I have started to reconnect with some of my contemporaries – digitally. Through a well-known social media application (OK – Facebook). Social media can be a great thing – and maybe I can re-establish some relationships with close friends with whom I shared a significant stage of my life.

But, and I think this is a “big” but, I am not sure that I am exactly the person that I was then.

It was a long time ago, I was in my teens – getting into Pink Floyd and Focus (go on, look them up on Google if you must!) – as a contrast to the Baroque and Romantic music that I was most accustomed to. Yes, I’ve been a musician since I was very young, and spent many long and enjoyable hours getting to grips with Bach, Debussy, Schubert, Karg-Elert, and Saint-Saëns on the piano and organ.

I’m still a musician, sort-a. I play the piano and synths (mainly) and prefer to use a weighted 88-note keyboard rather than a mouse for making music, but I am the first to recognise my technique is not as strong as it once was. But then I don’t practice enough – if I have time to get on the keyboard, I am usually enjoying the pleasure of playing rather than seriously working on a particular item.

You see, whilst I was still at school, I made a conscious decision that I was not going to be a professional musician. My next door neighbour was one, and I got some feeling about how frustrating it was for him. And some of my school friends were (apparently) so much better than me – I knew what the competition was like, particularly for someone who didn’t play an orchestral instrument. (Some of those are now well respected conductors, soloists, teachers, composers – you see I was right!)

So my particular path took me away from music and into software engineering, and that’s the day job. And in the evening, well I’m involved with some amateur music theatre groups, and as accompanist and musical director, I have an outlet for playing live music.

But what about my school friends? As I say, some persued music as a career – and it’s always good to hear them on Radio 3. Others have had different paths and no doubt have stories to tell about how they came to be where they are now. Their lives may have turned out differently from how I, or they, expect, some maybe sadly, some happily. But what it certain, at the core they may be the same person as they were, but life will have changed them.

And here’s my point, I guess. I am me: I am not the person I was, or the person I will be – I’m on a life journey. There have been some good experiences, and some bad experiences, and I have some stories to tell, but I’m not there yet. I may be surprised by what’s round the next corner. As I get to reconnect with people, they are not the same as they were then, and their life journeys will be different to mine. And they will have stories to tell of what they have encountered on the way.

Oh – and I hate to admit that a teacher was right when he suggested I should be on the stage making people laugh with my piano playing. I don’t think it was intended to inspire my career choice, but I find I can bring pleasure to people (and sometimes get them to laugh) by playing the piano.


Fran, I hope you have found peace now.



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