I learned to play the piano as a child. I was a good player, but hopeless at sight reading. I passed Grade 5 practical and theory at the age of 14 but gave up lessons with a teacher shortly afterwards. I was also bored by learning Mozart and music that I wasn’t interested in.
Around the same time I started playing keyboard in church with a worship group. I followed the guitar chords, played by ear and taught myself how to improvise using inversions. Next came a 3-4 year obsession with the acoustic guitar, then I dabbled with electric guitar and bass guitar whilst at university and eventually got my grubby paws on a drum kit. I spent all of my student loan on music technology kit and spent my time at university in bands writing songs and recording on a cassette based 4-track recorder.
After university I spent a year working for a post-production studio in London, getting a small taste of the commercial music industry. It wasn’t for me. I managed to secure a 9to5 job for a year, saved up and moved to Gloucestershire to be with my girlfriend. We were married in 1998 and I continued in rather dull administrative 9to5 work for a bit before going self-employed as a musician.
From 1999 to 2012 I developed a varied and diverse portfolio of community music work including a young bands development project, a commercial recording studio, a community rehearsal space, working as a musical director/project leader and other lovely projects such as writing songs with schools, working with pre-schoolers, primary children and young people encouraging them to make music and of course recording single songs, EPs & albums with songwriters and bands. I was also responsible for setting up one of the companies that merged with another similar company to become The Music Works, Gloucestershire's community music charity.
Eventually after 10+ years of trying my wife became pregnant. I re-trained as a badminton coach and shifted into a weekly working pattern that involved part time freelance badminton coaching, some hours leading music in a primary school and professional involvement in music projects from time to time.
In July 2017, after a couple of years of wandering into the old churches in Gloucester imagining the centuries of music that had taken place and daydreaming about what music I might make if I were given a chance. I talked with my wife and began to plan some ideas before applying for Arts Council funding.
The Arts Council application process was easy because I was very clear about what I wanted to do which included strong ideas about how I could involve other people, contribute to the cultural wealth of Gloucester and reach a wide audience. It must have been an excellent application because I received a positive decision 4 1/2 weeks after submitting.
The project has now begun and I'm hoping to develop an audience that I can serve by creating excellent music experiences, contribute to the culture of Gloucester, make the most of working in these lovely old buildings and continue to improve my collaborative skills.
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