I started playing piano and recorder when I was about 6 and living in New Zealand. There are famous photos of my brother, my grandmother and I playing hot cross buns on the ferry to Great Barrier Island. When we moved back to the UK we acquired a teacher through friend. She was actually a clarinet teacher so when I was ten I switched from recorder to clarinet. We moved to a different area of the country when I was eleven and after a couple of disastrous teachers, one of whom made me play only scales, my father drove me over two hours each way to my old teacher for clarinet lessons. We moved to the area we currently live in when I was twelve and I had a mediocre teacher for about a year. I finally moved to my current clarinet teacher and have no plans of changing. I gave up piano when I was thirteen having reached about grade four standard as I disliked it so much.
My first experience of playing in an ‘orchestra’ was when I was about nine and it was the local performing arts centre’s big band extravaganza day or something. You only had to be about grade one to go along and there was every instrument from recorder to guitar to cornet. I didn’t play in a group again until I was twelve and went to my county music summer school wind orchestra week. The next year I played in the first tier orchestra and that Christmas I joined my county youth wind orchestra. I worked my way up from last desk of the thirds to playing principle on many of the pieces over the last year. I left after the summer concert this year feeling that I’d got everything out of it that I could. This summer I went to Pro Corda for the first time for their chamber orchestra course. I played first clarinet in Beethovens 8th symphony and Greig’s Norwegian Dances which was so much fun.
I can first remember wanting to learn the cello when I was about ten and last week I celebrated my one year anniversary. I went to Pro Corda for their cello course during half term which was amazing with all the masterclasses and concerts. I have been able to progress very fast on the cello, literally just learning how to play it as I already had all the music reading tools from clarinet. I have reached grade five in a year and I am pushing on.
Getting the right instrument is so complicated and different for everyone. With cello I started on a rental instrument and then moved onto a modern Chinese cello which is improving every time I play it. My first clarinet was a buffet b12 which my sister now plays. When I was about 14 I moved on to pair of Peter Eaton 600 clarinets and this month I started playing my Peter Eaton International clarinets.
Today I got an expectance letter for the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Great Britain which will hopefully be the next step in my quest to know every musician in the county – it’s such a small world.