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NUGGETS OF ADVICE

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Alice McVeigh's 'All Risks Musical',
read by KEITH BRAMICH

 

Clearly stated in her introduction, Alice McVeigh's motive for writing All Risks Musical -- An irreverent guide to the music profession was to provide, for the benefit of aspiring young professionals, the kind of advice she wishes she had had when launching out on her career as a freelance cellist in London. She has successfully condensed this knowledge into 'a microcosm of human nature' in a pocket-sized book.

All Risks Musical
All Risks Musical

We're soon aware of an element of fun in this introduction, and throughout the book, the text hovers between the serious and the humorous. In a series of 35 numbered (and many more unnumbered) rules, we're told exactly what to do and what not to do in order to succeed in the music profession, and treated to countless little nuggets of advice : 'The world needs classical musicians like a hole in the ozone layer, but teachers will always be required', the author points out helpfully, and provides a separate, extended and serious set of rules for teaching.

'We'd like you to develop his natural potential as a soloist - we'd hate to see him end up TEACHING!' Cartoon by Noel Ford from <i>All Risks Musical</i>
'We'd like you to develop his natural potential as a soloist - we'd hate to see him end up TEACHING!' Cartoon by Noel Ford from All Risks Musical

All Risks Musical is illustrated with a series of cartoons by Noel Ford, known to readers of Private Eye, Punch and many UK national publications.

It seems to me that many of Alice's rules have their foundation in musicians' insecurity ... it's a well-known phenomenon that stress and insecurity are high amongst people not in charge of their own destiny. Most of the orchestral community (with the possible exception of those in a position of power or knowledge, eg as a member of self-governing orchestra) are ideal candidates, victims of the tyrannical rule of a dictator who, we're told, is almost always male. Not surprising, then, that some of the rules aim to redress the balance a little :

RULE 3: Conductors, almost without exception, are rubbish. This is a given, and only partly because it is (all too often) true. You must never admit to admiring a conductor, or enjoying his concert, unless you are currently stuck on a broken-down tube train with the carver in question.

I was a little surprised to find the scope limited to the British (and especially London) music scene, especially since McVeigh spent her childhood in South East Asia, comes from an American family and studied mostly in the USA. But I'm sure that she and her publishers know their market. Maybe there's a US edition in the pipeline?

Alice McVeigh
Alice McVeigh

If you have a friend or relative thinking about going to music college or taking up a career in orchestral playing, now's the time to give them the gift of knowing what their career would be like. And if you're a bit vague about what exactly the Munich Syndrome is, or curious about how a computer might fall in love with a cellist, why not buy a copy for yourself and read on ...

Copyright © 24 January 2003 Keith Bramich, Worcestershire, UK

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All Risks Musical
an irreverent guide
to the music profession

by Alice McVeigh

Pocket Press, 2002
ISBN 0 9544040-0-9, Paperback,
96 pages, 20 illustrations

BUY 'ALL RISKS MUSICAL'

ALICE McVEIGH

NOEL FORD'S PORTFOLIO

NEWS ITEM ABOUT 'ALL RISKS MUSICAL'

PATRIC STANDFORD ON ORCHESTRAL PLAYERS

KEITH BRAMICH ON THE ART OF THE CONDUCTOR

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