I’ve been part of the Normans team since June 2016, firstly in the Customer Support Team, then moving to the Sales Team. For many of us here at Normans, Music has been the main stay of our lives so far.
My musical life started for me at the age of 5 and my father was the biggest catalyst for me taking an interest in the guitar. I have grown up around my Dads guitars, rehearsals at the house for the duo that have been around since 1986 (still going). Continentally named Déjà vu, and yes I think I’ve heard the same band somewhere before…
Occasionally I would get to see them play and I can remember this capturing my imagination and never wanting to go (but… it was past my bedtime!…so…).
At home I had a plastic Ukulele with Nylon strings (pictured above) that I’m sure I managed to muster a Chord or just make a racket. After showing a little more interest, I became the proud owner of a ½ size nylon string classical, which is where I began to get stuck in, learning chords, except Bb and that’s still the one that bugs me now!
By the age of 7 or 8 my Dad realised that I was getting a bit keen on this Guitar idea, making a racket in the dining room, no doubt. After mastering Ben E Kings – Stand By Me in G, I was away. I can remember the frustration, the joy and the excitement of trying to get everything in the right order. Whilst my father had the patience of a saint.
Around this time I received my first steel string guitar a ¾ size Acoustic (now called travel size – I’ll thank Ed Sheeran for that). This is the instrument that still gets played every day, mostly with the same old rubbish…I mean brilliance.
Did you continue playing the guitar at school?
By the time I hit secondary school, the peers I had went from 30 to 250 and evidently music is something that can bring clusters of this number together. By Year 9, I’d managed to find a bit of confidence to go along to an after-school rehearsal. I went with a gang of musicians/friends who had learned the proper way (I still had never had an official music lesson). They had a lot more expensive guitars and knew how to play a solo. (I hadn’t quite mastered the solo part playing Beatles, R.E.M and a mix of 60s/70s tunes).
By the age of 16, we had a core of 4. Managing to get our first proper gig at a festival in Lichfield, we never looked back. We played everywhere we could, Battle of the Bands, Unsigned nights and the odd birthday party! We ended up playing as a 4 from the age of 16 to 20 (albeit with some questionable hairstyles and fashion). Taking in the 02 Academy (albeit the 02 Academy 3 – the small one) along the way. The 4 of us became like siblings who turned from teenagers to men together.
If you had an interest in learning the guitar, the Rocket Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar is a popular beginner guitar. It includes a capo, plectrums and much more to get you started. What great value for money!
Did you play at university?
At 18, it was university time which was something I had no clue where to start. After scouting around for months, I found a course that seemed ideal. Popular Music & Music Technology at the University of Derby, and there I found my next 3 years sorted. Solo gigs, band performances, composition, music in culture, you name it, we had a go. Meeting some fantastic people along the way, it became clear that music was always going to be part of my life.
The next chapter?
The next chapter led me into education, a PGCE through BCU and a fantastic time training at The Streetly Academy and Nether Stowe School which led me into a Secondary Teaching role. This took me abroad to the British School in the Netherlands and into UK Secondary Education. Giving me a real understanding of the way educators deliver music and the requirements and support they need from companies like Normans.
Today, I still play in the same band, a core of only 3 now (one of them had a better offer…) and various other projects along the way, including a few gigs with my Dad. Not bad for someone who never took guitar lessons, but I owe all to my father who was again a lot cheaper than a teacher (lucky me).
I am also very proud to be working so closely to Music and Education and trying to help out one of the most crucial areas for development. I’m very lucky to be involved in Music and as we know, it is one of the art forms that can bring people together from any background. Enough about me, it has felt like a this is your life moment (without the red book).