Many, many moons ago, way back in primary school, I remember each day we had assembly in the main hall. Good little children would arrive from registration in their classrooms and walk in single file to their places in the hall, lines and lines of little children, youngest at the front, oldest at the back.
My school was a “Church in Wales” school, so each assembly was started with a hymn. I have very few happy memories from school, but singing in assembly is one of them. One teacher would play the piano, and the words to the selected hymn were displayed on a huge paper “flip-chart” draped over a blackboard easel. Not that many of us needed the words, mind you, and this was especially so for my favourite hymn. I would stand tall (from below the head height of most of my school year) and belt out at the top of my voice … “Glad that I live am I, that the sky is blue”.
I learned to play the recorder in primary school too. I don’t have any recollections of recorder lessons just of practicing in the front room at home … the room door would be closed and the volume of the TV turned up in the other room. I’m guessing there would have been plenty of frowns and cringes as I practiced “Amazing Grace” and “God Save the Queen”.
I would like to say things improved at secondary school and it was a lot better … but it wasn’t, it was worse. I wasn’t what you’d call a perfect student, but I didn’t disrupt class. I didn’t enjoy many lessons, the teachers weren’t teaching me anything I was interested in and so found it mostly boring. I was basically a “good girl” though so I sat through lessons quietly, and did just the bare minimum needed to get through. Most of my school reports said things like “if Sallyann tried harder, she would get better results”. I enjoyed the hands-on lessons like woodwork and metalwork. Tech-drawing was good, I could draw the designs I was asked for, but I didn’t have the mathematical ability to explain how. Music was easy because of my earlier recorder playing and RE was a doddle because of my early years in Sunday school. I did enjoy Home Economics though, and art up to a point too.
When the time came to make my “choices”, the hands-on lessons were set aside to make time for lessons which would give me the “life skills” I would need. No more woodwork or metalwork, instead, apparently physics and French would be more useful … as a compromise I did get to keep home economics and art. Art was a bit of a conundrum, I had the imagination to see what I wanted to draw, but lacked the ability to put it to paper. Also my art teacher had taught Big Sister two years previous and she was good, he thought that constantly telling me how much I had to live up to would make me push myself harder to succeed. I must admit it didn’t have the desired effect, I eventually stood up for myself and told him that I was “Me” and not my sister (a fact he relayed at the next parents evening) and I went on to frustrate him with my own style of artwork, frustrating him even more when my artwork for my final exam, made with felt tip pens and a ruler, gained me a pass at a grade C … not as good as Big Sister’s B, but a good pass all the same.
Home economics was a little more successful. No, I didn’t learn to cook, but I did learn to love baking cakes and eventually decided that I would like to go onto college and become a pastry chef, or a “Master Baker” as my great Grandad had been, much to the relief of the careers teacher who had dispared at my plan to get married, have children, and send my husband out to work. I carried on enjoying my Home economics lessons, right up until “One decision” extended the amount of time I would need to stay at school and changed my direction completely.
I guess some things sank in, and stayed with me from secondary school, but it was my memories from primary school which came to the surface when I decided I would like to learn to play the saxophone and Hubby bought me “Harley“… so named as it was my 50th birthday present and Hubby insisted I was having a mid-life crisis and Harley was my motorbike substitute.
I had learned the basis of reading music with my recorder playing and was really pleased to find that the simple finger positions on Harley were the same so I could play my recorder music. At first I decided to learn to read the music properly … the reason I hadn’t moved onto the advanced recorder group was my speed, although I could read the individual notes, reading them fast enough to be able to play a tune at the right tempo just didn’t happen. (A bit like my actual reading, reading a book one word at a time simply isn’t very enjoyable). I wasn’t enjoying playing, the reading of the music was spoiling the enjoyment so I reverted back to writing the letters underneath the notes and Harley became fun again.
Then we moved house, Harley was packed into his “Case” and there he has stayed, although I’ve found the enthusiasm now and again to think of Harley, I haven’t quite found the incentive to start playing again … until now. I found my favourite hymn on YouTube, I’ll try and add a link “HERE“, but I’ve been unable to find sheet music to play it. A few weeks ago I was window shopping on ebay and I came across an old second hand hymn book which seemed to be the one I was looking for, it was only a few £’s so I sent for it. Wow !!! There was my favourite hymn … piano music, yes, but also the words, and the notes to tell you what notes to sing … or to my eyes … recorder music..
Walking along the street on my way to work, with Eldest Daughter chatting away in my ear via my mobile phone, I spotted this book stand in a closed charity shop, and stopped to take a picture to show her. Wouldn’t my old hymn book look good displayed on this.
I probably won’t remember to go back and get the bookstand once covid has moved on and the shops start opening again. However, I’ve found a lady saxophone teacher who gives lessons just 20 minutes walk away from our house … now thats something I think I will remember to do once the world becomes a little more normal.
More from before : Delving into the murky depths of my “Memory Vaults“