Safety in numbers

I have spent most of my career as a musician playing in a brass band.

Since the age of 12, when I played in the local brass band, then moving to a higher ranked band a bit further away, gaining a place in the National Youth Brass Band of Scotland at the age of 14 and then moving to Manchester to study for a music degree, all the while still playing in a brass band.

A brass band is a group of 25 players and 3 percussion. Everyone has their part to play, to feed into the overall piece and to make it sound the way it does. Relying on 28 people to play their best when it matters, in competition for example, means the conductor has to trust, put his faith and belief into his players, but also instil the confidence and belief INTO his players so everyone feels the same faith, confidence and belief.

Since I had my boy last year, I’ve not been a full time member of the band, just a helper when ended as I can’t dedicate the rehearsal time and individual time that playing at the highest level takes. I do miss it but when you have to prioritise things, I know it makes sense to put it to the side at the minute, and help when I can rather than try to do too much and do nothing properly at all. That is when I feel stressed.

Just listening to these old performances I have been part of (above is also a contest- winning performance!) makes me realise I still am part of a band, just in different ways.

In my classroom,I am the conductor, standing in the middle, directing my 25+3 individual players in their own tasks, to feed into the overall big picture and to do their best when it matters- every lesson.

In school I am one of the individual players, doing my own part in my own subject area, as well as playing little solo parts here and there, doing my own thing, trying my own ideas, trying other people’s ideas, to feed into the bigger picture, the overall piece.

So really, although I feel that as a musician, a player, I am doing the best I can, when I can but at work, I am making big leaps, both in confidence in myself and developing confidence in others. It makes me feel a bit better realising this as the skills are similar, it just sounds completely different.

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