It's been a long year

Thank goodness the summer holidays are here! Not because I have had a bad year but it has been a hard one work wise.

Last October I suggested starting a weekly string orchestra that combined pupils from 4 local primary schools. They would come together every Friday afternoon during term time to form The Yoker String Ensemble. It was also a back up to their individual lessons at other times during the week and so would ensure that they would be seen at least twice a week. It is a great idea and when it works it is very rewarding both to the children and myself. I don't think, however, I fully realised the amount of work it would take on a weekly basis. As in most of these situations the music was the least of my problems.

How difficult is it to organise a bus to bring some children to a venue on a regular basis. Why does it take a phone-call by me, at least once a week, just to check if the bus has been booked! Then I am asked if I will be responsible for paying the driver a "little something" for doing a voluntary service! These things can be excused and handled in a one-off situation but not on a weekly basis.

Then when things seem to be running smoothly I discover that our funding has been cut. I am not surprised but the blow is very hurtful. Thankfully I found a couple of influential people who were willing to back me in an application for funds. It was passed and we are now back on a even keel. But for how long? All the time this is going on I am reading in the newspapers about "El Sistema" and the amount of money it will take to set up and maintain such a project. Where will that money come from? No answer is the loud reply. Politically I am both naive and without the right connections but I will fight my corner to the best of my ability.

In the midst of all this is the music being created by a group of just over 40 children. Playing their violins,violas and cellos they are making immense progress and have entered the Glasgow Music Festival. It is the first time for any of these children and when we get a very creditable 2nd Place, I can honestly say that all the hassle and running around is worth it. Many of these children would never get this opportunity unless somebody did something like this. Iam not looking to produce an army of professional musicians. I am looking to give these children all the opportunities they deserve and they respond with hard work and love for their Friday afternoons.

It has been a long hard year and I am glad I am going off to Tuscany with my family for 2 weeks but I will be back in August to take up where I left off and hoping against hope that I can concentrate on the music more than anything. We will see!!


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