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Editorial Musings with Basil Ramsey

On being caught


Back on the trail ...


I wonder if people who are 'caught' by classical music -- in whatever manner the hook is baited -- generally pursue it eagerly and are themselves ambassadors for the cause? I find this area diffuse with a billion reasons advanced for becoming serious or evasive over serious music. Not that it matters to anyone who is already a convert, or one of those happy people who take to music as naturally as seals to water.

My constant quest for reasons goes back to my teens. I still have no clear idea of the manner in which music was on one day a remote 'subject' that one endured in school, and the next a glorious new world ready for me to explore. The only clue was a young lass at school who teased me about not playing an instrument from the vantage point of one who 'takes lessons'.

My agony at this thrust took me straight home with a feverish request that my father give me piano lessons. 'You've had one chance and showed no interest. I'm not going through that again'. Well, he had a point as I knew only too well. I appealed to my mother who, thrilled at the vision of a son playing the piano after all, made my father quite clear of her views. Father relented, and my apparent diligence led to such progress that he was no less astonished than I was. Where did it all come from overnight? To this day I am convinced that the taunt of a girl was the spark.

The oddity of my catapulting into music made the subsequent speed of acquiring musical knowledge just as strange. Here at the other end of a lifespan I simply enjoy all the treasure that music has brought to my experiences. I often ask musicians how they first caught the fever, which inevitably brings to light some fusion of music itself and a complementary spark within that fires up mind and body to a vast challenge. I feel that enthusiasm for sounds can be found in almost anybody should they not blight the subsequent process themselves by ignoring it. But there are scores of theories and people to argue them for ever. How much more stimulating to encourage the musical seeds that lie buried in us.

I've yet to hear a musician or a keen music lover deplore the experiences that music unleashes. On the other hand, those who like the sounds of music often despair at their reluctance -- or a simple lack of opportunity -- to engage with music as a performer or experienced listener. More damaging is their conviction that it is too late.


Copyright © 29 November 2001 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK



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