As a Scot, the New Year has a particularly strong resonance and 2019 dawns as my first year for quite a while where I will spend the majority of days outside my home country. A strange feeling, particularly with all the uncertainty of Brexit. When I return to the UK, it feels somehow more and more distant, no longer the country I once knew. Time will tell whether 2019 really does go down in history as the year that Britain pulled away from a unified Europe.
In School, one of the highlights last week was joining the Primary School assembly to which our Director of Visual and Performing Arts had invited some of the new instrumental teachers. They had come along to demonstrate their instruments to the Primary pupils – and what an impact they made! The greatest delight was probably induced by the sonorous, deep, rich tones of the double bass. A gorgeous instrument. This moment took me back to my own childhood and the day that I decided that I would really like to learn the tuba. Several years then followed of tuba lessons, terrifying our poor cat as I practised at home, carrying a very large instrument the mile up the hill to school, polishing the instrument to perfection and playing the bass lines in the school orchestra. Eventually, I tired of the bass lines and switched to the violin for a bit more variety, but still I loved those deep sounds and was rather envious of the two double bass players in the ceilidh band I joined. Nevertheless, the simple practicalities of getting a small violin to the various weddings, celebrations and dances that we played at meant that I never seriously considered another change of instrument. But I often wonder which instrument I would choose if I could start again – piccolo, perhaps or oboe? Viola? Cello? French Horn? I can see the cat heading for the hills already!
Learning a musical instrument is supported by plenty of pedagogical research to show how well musical development aids and supports academic development. The discipline, routine and commitment all conspire to help those young brains, further enhanced by learning to read music and the greater manual dexterity. Add to that the fact that playing an instrument is a social passport to musical ensembles, bands and groups, then there seems almost no downside to joining the musical movement. I look forward very much to enjoying more of the music in and around school in 2019!