2018 is our 15th year of teaching the piano and violin to students of all ages, across the socio-economic spectrum, in the UK, USA and Asia. In that time we have become ever more convinced that music is such an essential part of education. There is nothing that even comes close to matching the benefits of learning an instrument. Think about it, in any academic subject a student would be doing well to be scoring 80 or even 90% in their exams. Now imagine one of our performances if we were to only play 80% of the notes correctly! Music unashamedly involves the pursuit of excellence under pressure, all while learning how to communicate so effectively that you have the power to make a total stranger weep with joy. I will never forget hearing a six year old cellist in his first exam playing his simple four note melody so beautifully that I was moved to tears. Or the ten year old trumpeter who produced the most warm, velvet sound I have ever heard come out of a brass instrument!
Learning an instrument is really about making the impossible, possible… easy even. That’s what hooked me on the piano, I loved the discovery that when I started a piece I genuinely believed there was no way I was going to be able to play it, but just a few short weeks later I could no longer understand how I could ever have found it difficult in the first place. It was thrilling. By going through that process time and time again a student comes to learn skills that are essential in any walk of life: how to solve complex problems, self-discipline, self-awareness, how to build confidence, time management, how to listen, how to communicate, how to collaborate, how to manage one’s emotions, how to deal with acute pressure, and most importantly, the realisation that ability is secondary to drive, determination and commitment. It’s easy to see why those who study an instrument are proven to do better academically and often become hugely successful in their professional lives.
We have created Ashuelot Concerts with this in mind. We believe that it is our duty to use our musical skills to inspire the kids in our community: Show them that anything is possible if you work hard enough in the right way; show them that it is ok to strive for perfection and equally ok to fail; show them that pressure doesn’t have to be a negative feeling and that with the right drive and determination, life can be nothing short of thrilling. We want to impress upon them that just like they need to exercise their body to stay fit and healthy, their mind is a muscle that needs a workout too, and nothing works the brain harder than trying to learn a new skill as difficult as a musical instrument.
This Summer we are raising money to launch our education program. Initially this will involve visiting all the schools in our district with workshops based on the pieces we will be performing in next season’s concert series. We also want to open up our rehearsals to children, so they can see how we challenge each other, pushing each other to constantly improve. We want to make sure every child experiences our music live in a small space, so they can feel as well as hear it.
Our long-term aim is to build an organisation that constantly inspires the children in this area. We want every child in Keene to have access to one-to-one lessons on an instrument, whatever their financial situation, and we want to build an organisation that can support them on a daily basis in their practice. We believe that this will give the children in this area a huge advantage, it will improve academic performance and, most importantly, we believe it will give them the skills needed to be successful and ultimately, happy in life.
Help us turn this vision into a reality