'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, January 17, 2008

The Wife of a Musician - Part 1- The Music

The Queen Victoria, and consequently Robin, are somewhere between the Florida Straits and the Caribbean Sea, so I guess he'll be needing his suncream.

So I'm going to take this opportunity to look at an area that has been brought to my attention a lot over the years.
People generally seem to have a fascination with music and therefore musicians.
It's one of the reasons I started this blog in the first pace.
So often, when at concerts, I have been asked about, not just the music, but, how it works being a musician. The practical issues of performing and travelling, and generally being involved in a life that many people wish to do, but few make it.

I'm not quite sure where this fascination comes from.
Maybe it's what appears to be a glamorous lifestyle, up there on stage, travelling extensively, which is a basic requirement of most musicians.
But it isn't all glamour.
Years of solitary practice have to be done before you even attempt to make a name for yourself.
The music industry, like many others, is a cut throat business. It's hugely competitive, highly unpredictable, and therefore only suited to those who couldn't perceive of doing anything else.
They are simply driven by the music.

Even though I am unable to travel as much with Robin as I used to, I still get asked about his life, usually via e mail, and from all parts of the world.

It appears that I have inadvertently created a band of followers, trying to read between the lines, as to what it's really like to be a musician, or, closely associated with one.

Obviously I don't have all the answers, and can't really judge anyone else or their relationship, but I do have 16 years of marriage to a musician to fall back on.

Peoples' perceptions of life with a musician can be very different.
Sometimes I hear, "It must be so incredible being surrounded by music all the time,"
whilst others will say, "Doesn't it drive you mad hearing the guitar all day long?"

The fact is that life with a musician is many things, too much to deal with in one blog, so, I'll do it in stages.

Part 1, is all about, 'The Music'.

You have to understand the musician, and their music, from the beginning.
The fact that I have also had a life long interest in music, and particularly the guitar, has certainly helped.
If you are considering a relationship with someone, and you can't stand the instrument they play, then I'm afraid it's doomed to failure.
Musicians need to practice and they do it a lot.
Robin, when home, will do anything between 4 and 6 hours of physical practice a day, every day, be it a birthday, Christmas or family holiday. Although he will do a reduced amount on such occasions. (The only day I've known him do no practice, other than when ill or travelling, was our wedding day!)
Much of that will be technical exercises, scales and arpeggios, and the rest playing pieces and learning new repertoire.

I don't actually 'hear' a lot of that these days.
It's going on in the background, and subconsciously I know where Robin is up to in his routine, but I don't generally consciously acknowledge the sounds I'm hearing.
I am after all getting on with my own work.
But, when Robin is running through his repertoire, or preparing for a concert, I hear every note and constantly tell myself how lucky I am to be listening to such incredible music.

I'm frequently called in to hear a particular musical phrase and asked which sound I like the most. "Does this fingering, or, that fingering sound better?"
"I like this interpretation what do you think?"
But I take all this as an honour.
I respect Robin's musical knowledge and expertise. For him to ask my opinion is high praise indeed.
No matter that I may have been making the tea, bathing the children, feeding the dogs etc. at the time...

For me, to hear Robin in concert, or receive feedback after a concert, is when I feel privileged to have been a part of the whole process.
I know the amount of time, effort, thought and practice, that has gone into every single note that is played in public.
Nothing is ever performed until it has gone through an extensive period of rehearsal and interpretation.

This takes time though.
That is where all the hours of practice come in.
Of course whilst this is under way, life goes on around the music.
Every day things need to be dealt with.
Calls made, agents to deal with, tours to plan and pack for, and a million other household jobs.
The wife of a musician quickly discovers that everyday issues are best dealt with yourself.
It's not that Robin doesn't want to do these things, and he does help out in many ways, but there's no point in even asking until he is taking a break, or, has finished for the day.
To maintain such a level of skill requires one to be completely focused.
But, when home, his working day is more flexible than most peoples, and it is very refreshing to have someone to collect from school or nip to the shops.

Anyone considering a relationship with a musician has to understand, and love, the music.
Right from the start you need to realise that they will never change.
Music is their life.
But remember, that must have been one of the things that attracted you to them in the first place, so why on earth would you want to change them anyway?

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