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Musical Journeys: Hannah

It’s my turn this week! I chatted about my musical journey so read on to find out more…

None of my family played an instrument. But my Mum joined the Choral Society as a soprano. She would come home with the music and I’d look at and decided I wanted to join a choir. So I went and asked if I could join the choir in Wittingam and they said yes. So I joined the bass line because I couldn’t hear the difference in octaves and they didn’t tell me. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy it so stopped going fairly quickly.

I was at middle school in Wooler but I don’t really remember doing music there, despite it being quite a musical school. Mrs Frisbee was the music teacher and she used these books called The Red Herring.

And there was loads of English folk songs, but quite often it was Norfolk English folk songs, not north folk songs. One of the teachers organised a guitar club and I had a guitar at that point which I had bought off a friend for £20. It was an old acoustic one. I got guitar lessons. We just learned basic chords and basic chord shapes and we sung songs with it. And I don’t really remember a great amount about that as a club. But what I do attribute to that is having those chord shapes so ingrained in me.

And I knew when I got to Alnwick, one of the things I wanted to do was join the choir. I almost beelined for the music studio to go in and join the choir. I found my tribe with the music people. They were like me. I perceived most of them as being a lot more musical than me. And it’s taken me a long time to be able to say that. Even I think 10 years ago.

We did just enjoy singing together. It was very much a community of like-minded people.

A lot of my anxiety with music is that I’m not good enough that because I don’t have the formal education that other musicians have. So the practice comes because I feel I have to prove that I am a good musician.

I think a lot of it was to do with our music teacher. She got us enthusiastic and involved in stuff but I didn’t get very much theory at all from it. But the experience she gave us as a choir – just talking about it gives me goosebumps. Going to Paris singing and Notre Dame for Easter.

Easter Sunday in Notre Dame. It is still a musical highlight.

So I started learning the euphonium a little bit and getting lessons. I think they were 10 minute lessons, one-on-one. And I remember doing that in my first term and I did play drums for a very short amount of time as well. I don’t think I played in any concerts for either of those instruments though. I had moved on to an electric guitar because I’m a rock chick. I was in a few bands but I don’t really remember those.

Then I went to South Africa. While I was there the music teacher was English and I got involved with the dance and swimming. I also got involved with the choir and she asked if I would help out. So she did all the accompaniment of it and I would lead so we would guide what we wanted from the children.

We did some of the music from Sister Act, and we took them to a competition over in Durban. They won third against all of these choirs that had very privileged backgrounds who were all in uniform. We just asked them to wear clean jeans. Clean jeans and a white top. And that’s all we asked of them against all of these choirs with a full drapery and their full music.

Next, I went to Wales and spent two years in Wales, a year in Sweden and a final year in Wales to finish my undergraduate degree.

One of the Swedish festivals of light at Christmas time is the Lucia Festival, which is the 13th, 14th of December. And for that there was a lot of Swedish carols sung.

I’d always wanted to be a singer in a band like Metallica. And it took a long time for me to realise that my voice just wasn’t Metallica based. And then I realised nobody’s gonna hand it to you, you have to do it yourself.

It was 2006. I’d had lessons and I’d been singing down there for several years and writing down there. I don’t remember how long. I had lessons for a couple of years I think. And she taught me a lot of the groundwork.

And then I came up here in 2006, I bought my house and decided to become a musician.

Because of my background in linguistics, I bring a lot of the idea of how the fact that we’re creating sounds all the time and we are creating those sounds into intelligible sound, whether that’s speaking or singing. So actually a lot of what I’m teaching is how to make sure that the sounds we are creating can be understood as much as making sure that they’re safe.

But this is the other part, you know, I don’t have formal teaching lesson teaching skills. It isn’t about grades. It isn’t about being able to read music.

Being able to feel music to feel where you fit in with it is important.