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Sharon Bill Author & Music Tutor

I'm Going on an Adventure!

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The Hobbit is one of my favourite books. I read it almost annually and I also have the audio book (it’s the only way the ironing gets done). Bilbo speaks the truth when he says to Frodo,
“You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Sometimes it’s years later before you look back and wonder at where the road has taken you - often through unambitious beginnings and unexpected pathways. As Bilbo says, sometimes it’s just a matter of stepping onto the road. I never really planned on working in music and I’m constantly surprised to find myself doing what I do. However, I was quite emotional when I came across an item that started the ball rolling, years ago - if only I’d known it…

As students start in new years and new schools it’s a timely moment to share with you my little moment of nostalgia. I teach piano at the school that I attended and, in a quiet moment now and then, I like to browse through the drawers of a filing cabinet in the practise room to browse through music text books and orchestral scores (beautiful to look at in their own right in addition to the music they represent). On such an occasion (not the first, I might add) I came across a handful of scores of J S Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor - a very famous work. I instantly recognised the front cover and remembered it from my O level studies. I don’t know how I hadn’t noticed them before. On opening the front cover to remind myself of one of my set works I recognised the name of one of my old class mates. I was overwhelmed to realise that this was actually one of the copies from our year. I rummaged a bit deeper, and more feverishly, wondering if my old copy was there too. A few minutes later I was looking at my younger self! My maiden name was written on the inside cover and I nearly cried when I saw my own handwriting with all of my notes (barely understood at that time). I was hit with the sudden realisation that THIS was the starting point, had I known it, from which I would find myself and create the foundation for the rest of my life.

At that time I could never have guessed where the road would lead. I wasn’t a particularly gifted or outstanding musician. I was never really in that inner circle that seemed to be favoured (or so it seemed to me at that time) and were often chosen for performances. However, I successfully gained my O Level but didn’t consider taking A level. In fact, I planned on taking needlework and textiles until my music teacher stopped me in the corridor and demanded to know why I hadn’t chosen music as an option. I was so surprised that I changed my options on the spot! From that time on music crept into my life, took root and grew. As a floundering teenager, by degrees, I found out who I was as a person and found a social circle that I could relate to. I never liked discos and struggled to find friends until I joined the orchestra and choir. I found like-minded friends and found my feet - not all at once, but my feet found the right road.

The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes wisely said, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might”. You don’t know what can blossom from the smallest effort - so give it your best. I had no idea that I would end up devoting much of my adult life to music but, if I hadn’t worked at my studies - even when I didn’t find it easy and had no idea of building on those studies - I would have thwarted what was to become a lifelong blessing.

So, to all those starting on their GCSEs and A levels - stay alert; this could be the start of a life-long adventure. Also, take encouragement from the fact that I didn’t have a clue where I was heading - I still found my way. Take care of each step and you’ll be swept along on your own adventure.

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