Approaching Thirty - A Reflection
This week we celebrate Easter Sunday, which also happens to be the day I turn thirty. With this milestone looming, I find myself reflecting on my life and everything I have achieved.
A SLOW START
Looking back, if you asked anyone who knew me as a child what career path I would take, I don't know if many would say music. I was a slow learner; jumping about and playing around during lunch break at primary school, then sleeping in class. I was in 'extra learning' classes for the children that needed a slower pace of learning and this continued well into secondary school.
I had always enjoyed music but, although I did a lot of musical activities, I didn't take it seriously as a career path until I was thinking about university. In a classic teenage boy fashion, I wanted to become a games developer but, typically, hadn't thought it through. Years later, I was glad I hadn't done this when I volunteered to do some bug testing on a game and found it to be the most tedious thing I'd ever done, which includes watching paint dry.
The problem was, I really liked music but had always been told not to put my eggs in one basket. Being someone who works best when focussing on one thing, I really struggled. Fortunately, despite the poor school grades, I managed to get a place at university focussing on the subject I enjoyed: music.
RISING TO THE CHALLENGE
At university I learned something about myself that helped to bolster my confidence: I wasn't a slow learner at all, I simply learned things in a more practical way than others. I did really well, getting good marks in coursework as well as practical modules. I joined every music ensemble I could and soon found myself struggling to find free time. Even though I knew the 'eggs in one basket' motto hadn't worked before, I thought I could try it again within music and took the brave decision to do two majors: music performance and music composition.
This decision proved to be a very good one as I had originally wanted to solely focus on music performance, going on to become a session and ensemble musician. Sadly, due to health problems that had grown steadily worse as I got older, this was no longer a good idea which led to the idea of increasing my knowledge and skill in music composition.
I don't often talk about the year I had between finishing my music undergraduate and starting my music composition postgraduate because it was a tough and depressing year, full of job seekers allowance and rented accomodation roofs falling through (literally). A good thing that did come out of it, however, was the realisation that I was a good music teacher. I had a few tutees who were also fellow university alumni that had stayed in Huddersfield too. They really enjoyed my music lessons and it was a joy to see their ability increase through my guidance.
BACK TO BRISTOL
With renewed energy, I dove into my music composition Masters at the University of Bristol, while also starting to advertise my music teaching services there as well. I'll admit, things were slow to take off, to the point where I'd finished the Masters and had to work in retail while the music teaching business grew. The stresses that came with trying to maintain this balance (among other things) meant that my mental health took a tumble but within the year I was back on my feet and able to take on the teaching and music composing full-time.
The day I submitted my first self-employed tax return was a really good one. It was the first time I felt like I actually had a working business and a sense of where I was headed with my career. Since then, the business had grown each year, giving me the opportunity to work with some amazing and inspiring people.
The only way was up from here and I was soon able to marry the woman I loved, buy her a kitten for her birthday, go on some fantastic holidays together (without the cat), and begin planning our lives together (with the cat).
I never lost the energy I had as a child. Instead, my experiences allowed me to learn how to use it to fuel the things I loved doing in order to create amazing opportunities for myself and I am so grateful to everyone who has encouraged and inspired me along the way. Here's to the next thirty years!