The Music teacher was a Welshman. I have nothing against the Welsh people, not at all. This is just how I remember him.
He was short. We were not. We were changing from little boys to be 6 foot tall men. The Music teacher wasn’t 6 foot tall. That might account for his difficulty in managing a class where the majority of the boys/men were taller than he.
He used to shout. He had a shrill voice. I think we liked to wind him up so that we could hear his shrill Welsh voice yelling at us to “Be-have”, to “An-swer the ques-tion”, “Boyz, stop fooling a-round.”
In his music lessons he would teach us Composition. Our task was to compose a piece of music which he would then play on the piano so that everyone could hear what we had composed. We were not Composers. We had no idea how to compose a piece of music that would be worth being played on a piano.
At the end of some minutes of composition, he would collect our music note books and begin to play our compositions one by one. He would almost always mock what had been written, playing it exactly as it was written, note-by-painful-note, written by an amateur desperate to write something, anything.
Often the review of our compositions would result in a tinkling on the piano followed by the word “Rub-bish!” and our notebooks being thrown across the room one by one, flapping their pages as they went. And landing in a pile on the floor.
We would sit and hear our work being rubbished. It did nothing positive for our self-confidence.
We would also play music. He will show us the score on the music stand and let us choose an instrument to play. I always chose percussion, because it was the easiest. He knew that, and would mock my choice. He would mock everybody’s choices. There were very few natural musicians in the class.
He would conduct, we would play. He would shout “Rub-bish”. It was his magic word.
We would also sing, like a choir. Not a choir of angels. A choir of teenage boys, whose voices were breaking. Often breaking mid sentence. We would sing, squawk, pretend to sing, all the time trying desperately not to get caught. He was onto us and our miming strategy. He would walk along the choir listening to each boy in turn. Turning a mocking ear to those who were singing silently in order to protect their dignity. He would shout, “Lou-der!”. But that didn’t help.
I can safely say that any intention that I had to become a musician was thoroughly quashed by those music lessons. I can honestly say that any musician’s soul that might have lived within me, died.
Perhaps that was his intention, perhaps he couldn’t stand the competition?
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