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  • Writer's pictureSue Williamson

When your pathway in life is MUSIC

Updated: Apr 27, 2021

The two photographs at the top are of Ewan and John, taken at our Christmas 2014 concert. The two below, also of Ewan and John, are screenshots from last night's live-streamed event. Over six years has passed between the two events, longer than a student would be in secondary school. In the back of the bottom left picture, you can also see Rebecca, seated at the drum-kit. She has been coming to us for 4 years.

Each of these young people have journeyed a long, long way along their musical pathway. Each have studied at Applefields Special School, and also at the same time attended music classes with us, and each has progressed from Level 2 RSL (high grade Music GCSE equivalent), and all of them are now working on the RSL Level 3 Diploma (equivalent to 3 x AS levels). But that is not the main thing, it is certainly a great thing, but not the best thing. Yes, it is important to stick at something you like, something you are good at, and yes, if you do that, then brilliant things often happen - but watching the event last night, I think I stumbled upon a more profound truth, which is related to identity and purpose in life.

Anyone watching last night, could well have been moved, as I was, by the absolute certainty with which these young musicians fill their space. They are totally and utterly authentic, musicians to the core. I recognise that I am not like that. I am a bit of a 'Jack of All Trades', always batting above my league, bobbing and weaving, wearing and discarding many coats and hats - but some of my colleagues are like that - they are the same as John, Ewan and Rebecca, in that they live and breath music, they embody it, and they are totally compelling. Often intense, always passionate, sometimes obsessed, they know who they are, and have found their pathway. I have admiration for this whenever/wherever I see it.

I was overwhelmed last night. One reason being that I was able to see a few more people in 3D than I have been used to. Perhaps that was why I felt more alert, more alive, and more aware of my own thoughts and feelings than I had been for a while, and as a result making connections and finding meaning where in the past I might have been desensitised to the magical stuff unfolding in front of me.

My conclusions: the long-term relationships between our students/participants and ourselves, are important. Not just to enable good education but also because it gives a sense of purpose to the march of time, and that is for all of us, students and staff alike. That thing that we do when we turn up to work or Rock School (as some of the students call it) - well, that feels important.

Both John and Ewan have benefitted, as have numerous others, from the generous funding of Youth Music, who have over time enabled various provisions to run, such as our summer schools. workshops, and even individual post-16 programmes. Hats off to these wonderful people who have their eyes firmly on the musical pathways of thousands of young people from all around the country.

And I have a little piece of advice to finish with: to those true musicians, whether you are a student with us, a staff member, or one of our well-wishers/supporters (who is also a musician) Once you know what you want and who you are, there is no limit to what you can achieve. STICK AT IT! You will move further and further along that musical pathway, until all we can glimpse of you is the dust from your disappearing heels! Sue - March 6th 2021

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