For the Love of Music

The first rule of showbusiness is: Show up. On time. No matter what. When I was a student at Wits University School of Dramatic Arts our Professor, (David Horner – those

who remember Springbok radio will remember him as a familiar voice on Friends and Neighbours), told us on Day One that there were only two reasons for missing his class or a rehearsal – you were on your death bed or in your coffin. Whilst you might think this a bit extreme we all got the point – especially one, very talented, girl who failed to show up for a rehearsal and found the very next day that she had been replaced. I can’t remember her reason for skipping rehearsal, but it fell well short of the deathbed benchmark!

Whilst I am by no means this rigorous, I do adhere to an old-school approach to the performing arts. Obviously I enjoy teaching talented students – this studio is brimming with talent – but for me commitment, discipline and perseverance win out every time. There have been many valid reasons for students not attending class this past term but there have been others which are more suspect. In this regard I too often sense a lethargy and a lackadaisical approach which parents collude with. I have heard parents and domestic workers blamed for “not looking after my music” or “forgetting my class”. “A bit sick”, “a bit tired”, “too stressed” or (and this is my favourite)”his head is not in a good place right now” are some of the reasons I’ve been given for missing class – often only after the event. My new policy of pay in advance no matter what, will hopefully ensure that I am no longer compromised financially but I don’t really think that is the most beneficial outcome.

In the long term not promoting responsible habits and not creating accountability in young people cannot be healthy. At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old woman, if my mother ever heard me complain about being tired she would simply lop an hour off my bedtime. If my parents had to pay for any of their children to do anything, we had to show up for it uncomplaining and fully prepared. Our piano teacher was a dragon and my sister’s dance teacher used to walk the class with a stick she felt no compunction in using to lift any lazy barre work! We were terrified of them both but neither of us or any of the other kids had any thought that we were stressed, or that our schedule was too “hectic” or that our head’s might be in a bad place. An ideal world somewhere in between ours and theirs would be nice don’t you think …

On the other hand, I love seeing the hunger and enjoyment that some students have for their music. Just the other day one of my students walked to class from the village in the freezing cold and arrived 20 minutes early because she was nervous about being late. Another had to be restrained from coming because she was full of cold and her Mum was nervous about all of us getting sick just before the holidays so she re-scheduled. I enjoy the get up and go that certain students have exhibited by going to auditions, performing for their class in school, insisting they be given a chance to perform for others and overcoming the nerves that go before the big event! I love the fact that young people are discovering a guitar can be a best friend, something that is precious and special when life gets busy and you need to shut out the world and just play. When playing and singing is a need and not a chore then you can truly call yourself a musician!

The first rule of showbusiness is: Show up. On time. No matter what. When I was a student at Wits University School of Dramatic Arts our Professor, (David Horner – those who remember Springbok radio will remember him as a familiar voice on Friends and Neighbours), told us on Day One that there were only two reasons for missing his class or a rehearsal – you were on your death bed or in your coffin. Whilst you might think this a bit extreme we all got the point – especially one, very talented, girl who failed to show up for a rehearsal and found the very next day that she had been replaced. I can’t remember her reason for skipping rehearsal, but it fell well short of the deathbed benchmark! Whilst I am by no means this rigorous, I do adhere to an old-school approach to the performing arts. Obviously I enjoy teaching talented students – this studio is brimming with talent – but for me commitment, discipline and perseverance win out every time. There have been many valid reasons for students not attending class this past term but there have been others which are more suspect. In this regard I too often sense a lethargy and a lackadaisical approach which parents collude with. I have heard parents and domestic workers blamed for “not looking after my music” or “forgetting my class”. “A bit sick”, “a bit tired”, “too stressed” or (and this is my favourite)”his head is not in a good place right now” are some of the reasons I’ve been given for missing class – often only after the event. My new policy of pay in advance no matter what, will hopefully ensure that I am no longer compromised financially but I don’t really think that is the most beneficial outcome. In the long term not promoting responsible habits and not creating accountability in young people cannot be healthy. At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old woman, if my mother ever heard me complain about being tired she would simply lop an hour off my bedtime. If my parents had to pay for any of their children to do anything, we had to show up for it uncomplaining and fully prepared. Our piano teacher was a dragon and my sister’s dance teacher used to walk the class with a stick she felt no compunction in using to lift any lazy barre work! We were terrified of them both but neither of us or any of the other kids had any thought that we were stressed, or that our schedule was too “hectic” or that our head’s might be in a bad place. An ideal world somewhere in between ours and theirs would be nice don’t you think … On the other hand, I love seeing the hunger and enjoyment that some students have for their music. Just the other day one of my students walked to class from the village in the freezing cold and arrived 20 minutes early because she was nervous about being late. Another had to be restrained from coming because she was full of cold and her Mum was nervous about all of us getting sick just before the holidays so she re-scheduled. I enjoy the get up and go that certain students have exhibited by going to auditions, performing for their class in school, insisting they be given a chance to perform for others and overcoming the nerves that go before the big event! I love the fact that young people are discovering a guitar can be a best friend, something that is precious and special when life gets busy and you need to shut out the world and just play. When playing and singing is a need and not a chore then you can truly call yourself a musician!

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