School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: January 2013 Newsletter
Living the Dream I Didn't Know I Had!

By Hazel Newton

A recent post on the Movement Medicine facebook page got me thinking about the whole 'living the dream' thing. Last week I played clarinet in two Wind Ensemble concerts - the main piece was Stravinski's Firebird suite - challenging but fantastic to play.

At rehearsal the previous week the conductor had mentioned finding another percussionist to play on two of the christmas pieces - as a drummer with a fancy for orchestral percussion I put myself forward and so, after a frantic couple of days of practice, I found myself playing glockenspiel, chimes (tubular bells) and the big bass drum. I loved it, and there was a big moment in one of the pieces where the music slows and quietens and leads to a single 'dong' on a chime. The satisfaction of dropping that note in exactly the right place with exactly the right sound is indescribable and, I expect, one of those moments that will stay with me for life. 

I found myself wondering where it all came form, why I got such a big kick out of it and remembered as a kid my big brother sitting me down to listen to Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield. (Probably the year it was released, which would have made me 5 years old.) This piece uses all sorts of percussion instruments and would have been the first time I'd heard many of them - I was fascinated. 
Fast forward about twenty years to a friend's wedding and the bride's cousin is introduced to me as an orchestral percussionist - and I am SO jealous and I can't understand why - |'d played lots of instruments as a kid but they'd fallen away as the pressure of academic studies built and now, as I embarked on a career as a research scientist, the only music-making in my life was choral singing and a bit of penny whistle for stress relief.

Forward another 15 years and I've realized that science only satisfies half of me and doesn't have space for all that I am so I've moved on and I'm unemployed and recovering from a bout of ill health. And I've rediscovered the dance (another childhood passion), first 5 rhythms and then Movement Medicine, and I'm on the first apprenticeship program with the intention of clarifying who I am and what I have to give. So, as I'm preparing to move house and looking for ways to lighten the load my eyes fall on my clarinet (which has been with me since I last played it 29 years previous) and I decide, with regret, that it's time to sell it. The next day, I spot an event in the local council's arts bulletin - 'Blow the dust off your old trumpet' - an orchestra project as part of the festival for older people. I'm excited and, because I'm learning to integrate the wisdom of my body and the yearnings of my heart with the power of my mind, I follow it up and I'm delighted to be playing clarinet again.

A couple of months later, when a bizarre set of coincidences lead me to discover that the Irish government runs Community Employment schemes and there's one for trainee musicians, I'm onto it right away and I'm lucky enough to get a place. There's a music school run in the same community centre and one of the teachers there gives me clarinet lessons until I've caught up with her. I apply to the local music college and, now that I've passed grade 5, I get to play in the Wind Ensemble.

Drum kit lessons are part of the CE scheme package and here I am, 2 years later, with my own kit, studying for grade 6 and playing for a local brass band. 
And I'm confident enough to volunteer to play percussion when the chance comes up, and able enough to tolerate the discomfort of failure long enough to teach myself to play the glockenspiel part and present enough to notice the joy of a well placed note.

Living the dream? Hell yes! Would it have happened without my involvement in Movement Medicine and the Apprenticeship Programme in particular - I doubt it.

(Here's a version of one of the pieces - the big tubular bells moment is at 1 min 24 secs - it still gives me the shivers!)

And The Mountains Echoed: Gloria!

Performed by the Hillcrest Wind Ensemble December 17, 2011 in San Diego, CA. Learn more about the Hillcrest Wind Ensemble: http://www.hillcrestwindensemble.c...


(Here's the piece that inspired me - listen from 22 mins 30 secs to hear the bells featured.)

Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells (1973) Full Album Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells (1973) Re Uploading October 30, 2012 Track Listing 1 00:00 "Tubular Bells, Part...

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.