Comments from past participants:

“The whole idea is terrific, I enjoyed myself. I thought all the participants did really well particularly when there had to be a restart”.

”Well organised - very friendly group - the whole thing is very worthwhile.”

"My daughter was really impressed about how supportive everyone was to each other and how important music was to the adults. For a 14 year old who has always played music it was a very different dimension."

"A day in the life…

Of an amateur musician. Saturday was an “Adult Learners’ Day” in Stalybridge, which are events organised by members of a music internet forum I belong to. I have organised one myself in the past.

These are also sociable occasions and people make cakes and turn up around 10.30 in the morning. Others volunteer to be accompanists for the day. A great deal of effort goes into making these events happen.

The aim of the day is the afternoon recital where people who would not normally get an opportunity to play solo in public can do so in a ‘safe’ environment where the audience is made up of your fellow players.

My piece for the recital was for tenor sax, but I knew there was likely to be an ensemble piece or two, so cello went along too. So in the car I put: tenor sax, cello, 2 music stands, 3 music cases…

It’s about an hour’s drive to Stalybridge – just on 60 miles. I arrived about 11.30 in time for cake. My first opportunity to sample some of DB’s cakes – lovely! I then had a run through with my accompanist, which went OK.

The ensemble was meant to include a double bass, unfortunately, the M6 conspired to thwart their arrival (and several others) due to a major incident around Birmingham. Fortunately, I had packed in music case #3 the complete set of Pavanes, Galliards, and Almains by Holborne, so we were able to make up an ad-hoc ensemble of 2 flutes, 2 violins and cello. We retired to a room to have a practice. Three of us are experienced at performing Renaissance music, 2 had an entirely alien new experience. We settled on the Pavane ‘La Patienca’ and the Almain ‘The Honie Suckle’. I’ve never played either on cello.

At 2pm we start the recital. As usual, a lot of clarinets feature in these events, but we also had flutes, piano (including duets), violin, guitar, harp, voice, tenor sax, plus a clarinet choir and what we called the ‘Rest of the World’ (i.e. not clarinets) ensemble.

The first part of the recital finished at 3.15 and we resumed at 3.45 for part 2 and finished just about 5pm.

These are good days. Children who learn get loads of opportunity to play and do solos at school concerts and music teacher events. Adults don’t and as an adult it is much more intimidating to play solo, which is why these events are important and I have a lot of time and respect for those that put the effort in to making these happen.

Personally I think there should be more opportunities of this nature for adults and I am going to suggest to my orchestra that we put on a social play day of this sort for members to play. Challenge will be when and where…"