We realised our daughter was musical when, at a young age, she played ‘Hot Cross Buns’ on the foot pedals of a dual-manual organ! She could only just reach the pedals; couldn’t see what she was doing, but worked out the simple tune by ear. Then I started investigating musical opportunities in Harrow.
She started lessons on the trombone through her primary school music provisions, which were delivered by the Harrow Music Service. In Yr 6 she also started learning the clarinet.
We weren’t sure which instrument to go for in the beginning, there are so many to choose from. However, the book ‘The right instrument for your child’ by Atarah Ben-Tovim & Douglas Boyd was helpful. We worked through the information in the book, looking at physical & personality characteristics of both child & instrument & we narrowed it down to either the saxophone or the trombone. My daughter is strong, and having played the recorder and the ocarina, she was used to playing with a mouthpiece.
I asked the school music co-ordinator if there were any unused instruments at school & discovered a trombone in the cupboard. She tried it out, got a nice noise out of it, so off I went to the music shop to see if I could source one. We thought the trombone might be tricky but we were proven wrong! We managed to get a clarinet in a similar way.
School was not an easy place for my daughter, and music became an outlet to express the emotions that were inside of her. She was able to explore her learning style without being pressurised by her peer-group.
Once she’d had music lessons at school for a year it was time to move on to the next thing – joining a music group. Many parents had mentioned Harrow Young Musicians as a fantastic organisation where children can grow their musical skills and socialise with like-minded pupils from across the Borough. It sounded like a good idea.
To play for 3 hours on a Saturday morning would give meaning to the lessons and practice she was doing at home and school during the week. Getting her there though, was another thing! Eventually, after much heel-digging; finding an alternative time from her other out of school activities; and holding down an emotional ‘audition’, she joined the Junior Band. Within weeks she couldn’t wait for Saturday morning to come around, anticipating the music as well as the interval sweet shop! Two others from her out of school group also joined HYM, and since then many school friends have too. She now plays in the Concert Band and is going ‘On Tour’ to Belgium at the start of the summer holidays.
Taking part in the Harrow Borough’s music provision has had a huge impact on my daughter. She is supported by a group of adults who aim to guide pupils to reach their potential without pressure to over-achieve. Her confidence levels have increased immeasurably. She is a happier child and is better able to qualify and accept her abilities. She has made many new friends and found common interests with old ones. The confidence she has gained has reached across all areas of her busy life and she is now happy in herself and can recognise her achievements.