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Life Chez Dee Episode #16: Music, walking, and more music

I decided to write this blog about two things I’ve loved this week. One being walking; one being music; and how much they’ve intertwined with each other.

I set off walking on Thursday morning with a group of Nordic Walkers I’d not been with before. We met at the Beach Café at 10am. I was telling Bart about not being able to come along for a walk this evening as I was going to another concert at school, to watch both William and Oliver. I was overheard saying this and one chap in the group commented on how wonderful that was; how important it was that music and art were still loved by our younger generation and how much he wished these were pushed more in schools. He was especially concerned for his grandchildren, who went to a school in Manchester, where music, the arts, and even the outdoors are not really on the school’s agenda; and how he thought it so important for all these to be available more to schoolchildren.

We talked of music, and what the boys were up to, and what his grandchildren were up to; how they were children of their time; how they loved their gadgets and gaming; and how I was thrilled that all my boys have thrown themselves into so many things outside school, things which have been incredibly enriching, swimming, sport, scouting, and predominantly music. He wished his grandchildren would have more of an interest in the arts and music, and less in games and football. I have to say, we’re on the same page.

After chatting for a while I asked if he were going to grab a brew afterwards, he said he was, so I asked if he minded me striding off and pushing myself a bit harder on the walk. “Not at all”, he said, and off I went. On a mission, I stepped up the pace … another lady said that she wanted to push herself too and would try and keep up. We walked and talked for a while, and we’d walked rather a long way. I turned to see where Bart was as I thought at this rate I’d be at the tower before long.

Bart was waving his poles in the air, gesturing to us to turn back. As we turned the wind came full force, and I thought goodness, this is going to be hard work, the sand got softer too which made it even harder still. For those who’ve never walked with poles, it makes walking easier, it makes walking faster, and it makes walking more efficient and effective. Working harder, yet feeling easier … it sounds like that’s a contradiction in terms, and I would have to agree, if I hadn’t experienced this for myself. On our way back, Bart had a little word in my ear … about taking things to the next level … perfecting my technique even more … always striving for me to be better. I want to learn, I want to do this right, I want to get the proper technique, and because I will be walking with purpose, my posture will be better, I will burn more calories, and all by slowing down. He’d collared me as I’d been striding away from the group … he got me to focus on my stride, the positioning of my toes, the positioning of my heel, how I was swinging my arms. And by focussing, by slowing down, by swinging my arms more, my heartrate automatically increases, but so does my technique. I increase my heartrate this way, rather than dashing off to increase my heartrate, and compromising my technique.

I can’t recommend Bart’s groups enough. Bart is friendly, attentive, always watching, always praising, and always trying to find ways to make your walk more effective and efficient.

Today I got up early, still aching from yesterday if I’m honest

Today I walked with Phil – so nice of him to walk with me, as he’s usually a lot faster than me, but I know he’ll say that he doesn’t have to walk fast for an effective workout. I know he’ll have been swinging his arms higher and further as his pace had slowed down to mine, and I know he’ll tell me that his heartrate went higher as a result.

I was having a proud mum moment, I was talking about William, and his last concert at LSA; and the Lancashire music concert, and indeed Oliver’s performance,

We talked about William’s love of piano, and his love of trumpet, and him having had a new trumpet for Christmas, how expensive it was, how he’d put money towards it. We talked about Oliver’s drum kit; his full drum kit … how yes its noisier than his electric kit, but how much more I prefer this noise, than the thump of the electric kit. I love hearing the drums … and I never thought I’d say that. I talk of his learning sax and piano too; the benefits of learning the piano; the benefits of music per se, and why having music in your life is so much more than just learning an instrument.

He told me about his daughter’s love for music; her gift for music; her ability to pick up and play pretty much any instrument. He told me how she’d gone on to do a degree and masters in music; his concerns of her having a successful career in music, but how she’d gone on to be working for BBC Philharmonic. It was a lovely story.

We chatted pianos; all about acoustic; electric; those we knew who played well; the practice and commitment required to learn and play well. I was saying that both William and Justin often play the same pieces, but how I’m very tuned in, and from another room I know who is playing that piece as both William and Justin have different styles of playing. We talk about this and about how much playing is as much about technique as interpretation; how someone could play a piece perfectly, but how it still wouldn’t have the same impact as someone who skilfully put their own interpretation and style into playing it.

Bartek compared that with Nordic Walking, how it was important to learn correct technique and be guided and taught correctly, but then your own natural walking style should come into play whilst still having good technique.

I’ve been thinking lots about the music I’ve heard this week. How proud I’ve been watching my children perform so brilliantly, and what a privilege it have been being able to watch such incredible performances from some exceptionally talented musicians.

I watched William play at two concerts this week, he played trumpet in the school orchestra, in the school windband, in Lancashire Schools Orchestra, he performed a fantastic piano solo of Maple Leaf Rag and he also played piano to accompany his friend Tom, playing Saxophone in their rendition of Summertime – it was so fabulous, I’ve watched my video recording several times since. He stepped in to help the younger Lancashire wind group, who were a bit low on numbers, so that they could do a fabulous performance at the concert.

Oliver blew me away with his drumming … he was fantastic. I thought he was just going for a bit of drumming practice each week, but to see him perform with the Senior Orchestra, and hold his own, at only 8 years old, was incredible. Bravo Oliver!

I’m biased I know, but I’m a mum and I’m going to be, but those performances I heard from my children were exceptional. And now I’m also going to tell you about another fabulous virtuoso of a musician, and that is Miss Georgia Rodwell, who’s playing of the violin is sublime, and who mesmerises me with every exceptional performance she gives. There are so many performances of hers which stick in my mind, but I don’t think I will ever forget hearing her stunning performance in Venice at Santa Maria dei Miracoli.

William is now playing trumpet with Switched on Swing, he’s now done his second gig, and if you’ve not had the pleasure of hearing them play, you need to. This 20 piece swingband is here in St Annes; I’m so delighted to know many of them, and even more delighted that they’ll be playing at The Firecracker Ball #forEdward in September, with the icing on the cake being that William is now a member of this band, and will be playing at this event for his brother, which is really special.

I am one really proud mum.

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