NUGGETS OF ADVICE
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
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 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
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?
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
BUY 'ALL RISKS MUSICAL'
NOEL FORD'S PORTFOLIO
NEWS ITEM ABOUT 'ALL RISKS MUSICAL'
PATRIC STANDFORD ON ORCHESTRAL PLAYERS
KEITH BRAMICH ON THE ART OF THE CONDUCTOR
All Risks Musical
an irreverent guide
to the music profession
by Alice McVeigh
ISBN 0 9544040-0-9, Paperback,
96 pages, 20 illustrations