The Story of My Violining
When I was 6 I lived in West London and mum and I knew a mother and her son called Ben and Judy Wragg. Judy studied at the Royal College of Music. I was invited to Judy and Ben's house and he came to my birthday parties. My talent for acting and singing was already being noticed but Ben played violin and his mother accompanied him. When we were seven he was already at the end of Suzuki book four and playing the second part of Bach Double Violin Concerto in D of course I thought that was wonderful to play with such pinache and I thought in my innocence, "I can do better than that!"
So, Judy suggested I should have lessons from her mates in the London Suzuki Group so my first teacher was a great one she was called Jill Samuels a graduate of Royal Academy of Music. I had the same teacher as one of the Barclay boys in St John's Wood. We played violin together together with the then owner of the Holiday Inn Regent's Park so we used to have our concerts in the Hotel. The coolest thing about it was her house was the most beautiful in all of St John's Wood, with a classy purpose made music room and backing onto a set of private gardens at the back in a kind of circus if I remember rightly all built of the finest Portland Stone.
My mother spent her £100 inheritance money from her dad on my first set of ten violin lessons. It was my mother's thing with me rather than dad's. They competed for my affection dad taking me into his place of work on a Saturday and putting a hard hat on me and taking me round the Indian Restaurant he was designing for his Indian buisness partner in who's restuarant he had met onece met the Big O in the 1960s and mum did violin. He took the piss out of mum for it. Judy said to make me practise and I didn't want to becuase jill was so hard on me. She drew a face on the side of my hand. She said, "Look into the face. No, right into the face!" and it was on the opposite side of my left hand and I'm not double wristed. So, it was excruiatingly painful when she tried to contort it inot the right position to allow it to grow that way. That's why I was more more than a little demotivated to play my Lightly Row the fingering of which I still have tattooed onto the back of my eyeballs to this day as as E22 311 E123EEE E22231111 A2EE222.
....And that's how you become Yzack Perlman or you spent the rest of your life in the twinkle dungeon, playing the Sinchi Suzuki's Twinkle Twinkle Star Variations and theme until you could shave. Thank God I graduated from there in a term, some people were chained to the railings in there for two years at least, playing "Everybody down up, I stop and you stop or Mummies and daddies, Down daddy, Caterpiller, Caterpiller", and then the theme ad infinitum until you could proud play something. Four semiquavers two crotchets (everybody down up), crotchet dotted crotchet and quaver (mummies and daddies), crotchet and two quavers (down daddy) and four semi quavers (caterpiller, caterpiller). You had to sing the rhymn and then play them to the twinkle twinkle little star tune namely AA EE332 332211A 332211A 332211A AEE332 332211A. You had to memorise it all so you could hear it rather than play it from sight and it's meant to help with perception of tuning at that age. All the top players of the 1980s learned via the Japanese pure Suzuki method. Dad hated me playing he thought perfection in music was snobby. When he totally demotivated me to practice he instructed mum to cancel and take me to the Queen's Sixtieth Birthday instead.
The Katherine Horlock Era
A parental divorce and three years of prep school pass in September 1989 mum and I moved to a new semi-mum bought on her own in Colchester, Essex, when I started at Ipswich School. I had a double class with Anna Walsh and her father and my mother four of us together. Anna I met a few years back she's still very musical and plays several instruments and has had a family. We did our grade 1 together in Spring Term of 1989. Anna got a distinction and I got a pass which was pretty harsh on me and Katherine begged them to give me a merit because I got a distinction for the Handel Theme from Judus Maccabeus a 25 and a 24 for the other two pieces, but fell down somewhat on sight reading and oral tests to get a 118 pts. Katherine complained saying it was demotivating for me baring in mind Anna's mark but Colchester's a bit like that. You have to be born here. The thing is mum was only a point behind she passed as well with 117. I've always thought she was musical and never really tried. She gave up after Grade 1 after learning with me saying it was the hardest thing she'd ever done. After Grade 1 in 1989 we moved from Lion Walk Church sometime to Colchester Art's Centre at St Mary's one day Blur were in there doing a sound test for an early gig. We did christmas concerts there where we played form Katherine's Carol book she printed for us. She transcribed about 15 carols for us to play. I passed grade 4 with her with 100 pts by the the skin of my teeth but she got me my best certificate mark ever for grade one theory for which I got a distinction. I ended up playing with the Anna Leader the Yale professor's daughter in their house in Beverly Road at the time, just as father died. She's stil playing I played with her in SBMS orchestra she was on the first desk with the leader Beth Spendlove. I was on teh 2nd fiddle.
Violin Summer Camp
At violin summer camp we played Irish, Scottish and Scandanvian Folk Music. My teacher came from Australia where she played ad infinitum but did some time in Sweden and then set up her own business in Colchester where she became popular for getting the mums to play with us. This was her jig books which I still play from and the Christmas Carol book. She wrote them by hand I've got some of the recordings of them below. The summer camps took place at St Osyth and Essex University Creche in the 1990s. The above video of a trip to the Leipzig Bach Festival 2018 encorporates me playing some of the jigs we performed at summer camp. The ticket was expensive that's why I included it, but it also included pics of Mariendorf Checkpoint which was the old boearder post between East and West Germany on the way to West Berlin I passed through for real when I was 3.
Ipswich School and Violining
Apart from having a few lessons from the excellent Helen Farrell (now Clare) at Ipswich School who attended the Purcell School. I appeared twice in the orchestra on the second fiddle. I was also in the SBMS Junior Orchestra briefly with Colin Nicholson with my then friends Alex Turner the Silicon Valley Programmer and Violinist and Tim Sansom and I played once for the St Botolphs Music Society Senior Orchestra once only in 2015 and also for the Colchester Baptist Church Worship Group. That was regular playing every sunday and I improved. Recently, I attended a conference in Holland and bought myself a state of the art Electric Violin from Stefen Beyer Instruments of Großschweitzen in Saxony who is an up and coming maker of electric insturments with EU funding. The recordings below are of me playing it with my beautiful Alfred Knoll Bow. I have the equipment now I just need to keep practising my old acousitc voilins aren't very good. I'm also going to buy the sound modules from him I feel that give the violin sound more depth. He's a great young violin maker.
|2015||Winter||SMBS Orchestra||St Botolph’s Church||Organ concerto Haydn
Accompaniment of 5 songs arr. Jon Abbott (on 2nd fiddle)
|19th October 2014 – January 2015||Winter||Worship group||Colchester Baptist Church||Hymns and songs of worship, carols on the violin|
|23rd November 1995||Winter||Ipswich School||School Choral and Orchestral Concert||Le Cid Ballet Massenet (on the 2nd fiddle in the orchestra)|
|1st December 1994||Winter||Ipswich School||Choral and Orchestral Concert||Harry Janos Suite (on 2nd fiddle) Kodaly|
|27th November 1993||Winter||Ipswich School||Choral and orchestral Concert||Schubert’s 6th (on the second fiddle)|