'As always, it was sheer pleasure to observe Robin Hill's remarkable fluent technique: everything looks easy when he plays it.' Colin Cooper- Classical Guitar Magazine ----- 'Wonderful for their (Hill & Wiltschinsky) precision, touch and clarity of sound... refined virtuosity, the achievement of a long interpretive process.' Il Giornale D'Italia (Rome) ----- 'I loved your CD and thought your technique and performance were fabulous...' Rick Wakeman

Thursday, November 22, 2007

'Return to Islay' and the Need to Promote Classical Music...

Return to Islay, track 7 on 'Virtuoso', was inspired during a visit to this remote Hebridean island, when Robin was performing there with Peter Wiltschinsky, as the Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar Duo.
Although Robin had never been to the island before he felt the place was strangely familiar, and on his return home, set about composing this solo guitar piece.

The music reflects the calm serenity of the terrain and Robin wanted to write something very simple. The paradox is that effective simplicity is difficult to achieve!

I hope that you will agree that Robin managed to evoke the spirit of this beautiful island in his piece, 'Return to Islay'.

Encouraging children to listen to all types of music is, once again, something we need to address.
There was an interesting article in the 'Telegraph' the other day, by Graeme Paton, Traditional musical instruments 'in decline'.

The research, led by Professor Susan Hallam, was carried out on young children in school.
The popularity of the violin, recorder, flute and clarinet has declined over the last two years, but the number of pupils learning the guitar and drums has increased.
In fact, Hallam predicts that the acoustic guitar will overtake the violin as the most widely taught instrument.

That's good news for us!

Coincidentally, I spent last night at son number one's, 'Year 6 concert', from which I can report a healthy interest in musical instruments.
Over the evening the audience enjoyed 48 performances by enthusiastic 10 year olds.
The instruments, in order of number of appearances, were,
1st place - Piano
2nd - Guitar
3rd - Drums
4/5 (joint) - vocal & trumpet
7/8/9/10/11 (joint) violin, cornet, flute, glockenspiel and saxophone

For good measure there was also a demonstration of Irish and Tap Dancing.

The most important point is exposure.
All children need to hear classical music in order to fuel their desire to learn a classical instrument.
We are lucky, our school has a very positive approach, but that certainly isn't always the case.
As the report points out, children want to emulate the music they see.
So why aren't we able to see and hear more classical music on T.V.?
We know it will help our children in so many ways, yet seem happy to let a few generations 'fall by the wayside' before we redress the balance.

The point is highlighted again today, in an article by Jasper Rees, 'Loving music - with no strings attached'.
Rees is currently enjoying a return to horn playing after a 22 year break, and stresses that the rewards of learning an instrument as a child are incalculable. The legacy of the skills acquired are like a 'deposit on your culture future'.

We know that learning an instrument develops skills such as team work, memory, vocabulary and increase of confidence, it also appears that those skills remain with us into adulthood.
So the current Government plan to boost music in primary schools should be encouraged wholeheartedly.

I learnt the guitar for many years as a child and look what happened to me. I married a classical guitarist and the skills I learnt have proved invaluable in understanding the man and his music.

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