Claire and I love hearing about how music education made a difference to people.
Alongside YMTS one of my other hats is to present a show on a Sheffield FM radio station.
Last Friday my guest was Chris Whitehead, now 60, who started his career as a design engineer and became the MD of a huge construction business.
Chris grew up overlooking a mill and the slag heaps of a colliery. It was a “tight-knit community punctuated only by occasional outbreaks of violence.”
In 1968 Rotherham Council started a schools music service. A peripatetic music teacher taught him to play the euphonium and introduced him to brass band performances; “music became my life” he says.
It “gave me a creative outlet and a social life, upgraded my interpersonal skills from hopeless to just about passable, brought me encounters with a number of gorgeous girls, improved my concentration and kept me off the streets.” Chris went on to study at Cambridge University and says he secured a place thanks to the changes music wrought in him.
Chris talks about his former music teacher, Reg, as one of the best leaders and human beings he ever knew. He says thousands of hardworking music teachers are “held in the hearts of past students and revered more than you might imagine.”
I was touched by Chris’ description of how, without Reg’s music lessons, his life would have been profoundly different.
And during the radio interview he spoke of how crazy it is for schools to downgrade music and the arts.
If you want to listen to the interview with Chris, it’s here:
The part about Reg Davey, who taught Chris to play the euphonium and the life-enhancing impact of music lessons when Chris grew up in Rotherham starts at 22:48.
- Read Chris’ article about Reg.
- More interviews here on the YMTS website.
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