Sunday, 4 July 2010

Living Without Music?

I was listening this morning to the religious current affairs programme on Radio 4. I'm not usually up so early on a Sunday but I'd had to drop my son off at the station as he was booked on the 7am train to London. He is going to the 'Wireless' festival in Hyde Park. Music has been an important part of my son's life since he was quite young. So it was with great sadness that I heard a discussion on the subject of Muslim children and music. It would appear that some Muslim parents are withdrawing their children from school music lessons as, in some circles, music itself is seen as un-Islamic and evil.

Just two days ago I was at a concert in Norwich Cathedral. It was the last ever school music concert in which my son would take part. He has just completed his A-levels and will officially leave school next week. Watching him sing in the choir, I could see in that 18 year old face, the traces of the five year old singer at his first school concert. When he played his drum solo, to loud applause, in the wonderful acoustics of the cathedral, my maternal pride was at an all time high - a feeling shared I'm sure by the mother of his friend who played the most sublime sax solo. But most significant of all was the fact that this was the final school concert organised and conducted by a truly inspiring head of music at the school, Mr. Colin Dowdeswell. He is retiring after 27 years in that position. And I wonder whether my son's musical career would ever have started had he not had all the musical opportunities afforded to him at school and inspired by that man and his staff.

It started with school music lessons but has gone beyond that. My son and friends have formed various bands outside school and have played at several venues in the Norwich area. All this began with an interest in music fostered at school. It is for this reason that I feel such sadness that some children will never get the opportunity to explore music. What it must be like to live in a culture which denies humans the right to enjoy such pleasure I simply cannot imagine. For me (in the words of John Miles):
To live without my music
would be impossible to do.
In this world of troubles,
my music pulls me through.

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