I’m really enjoying using my beautiful old metronome. It’s a lovely piece of work, an antique wooden wind-up job made in France. But that’s not the main reason I love it. You see it came from my dad – my first and greatest musical influence whose piano playing formed the soundtrack to my early childhood. And then, when I started to take an interest in music, whose help and guidance got me through the boring technical bits and onto the pure joy of playing. And all the while there was the metronome, tick-tocking away on top of the piano, with my dad calling out cheerfully, “count, girl, count”, whenever I missed a hemi-demi-semiquaver.
Our piano sat right in the middle of the living room, at the top of the stairs. You couldn’t miss it. I used to think that was a sign of its importance in our lives, but now I realise that since it was a Baby Grand, and we had quite a small house, there was actually nowhere else for it to go. Still, having pride of place did afford music a pretty high status within the home.
Over the years my choice of instrument changed from piano to flute and then to guitar. The latter are quite portable and could have been played anywhere, but it never occurred to me to hide away in my bedroom to practice, nor did anyone ever ask me to. When I was 15, I vividly remember sitting on the landing (where the stairwell created the best acoustics in the house) and treating everyone to endless renditions of Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’ in full voice.
I am now a musician, a music teacher, and the mother of three very musical children. Our home is full of instruments; guitars, trumpets, flutes, didgeridoos, violins. We play anywhere and everywhere in the house, and yes we are allowed to sing at the dinner table, especially if it’s in harmony. Living this way brings me great joy. Home-made music continues to be the soundtrack to my life, and I have my dad to thank for that.
And although timing in music is still not my greatest strength, I can honestly say that I am counting, Dad, I am counting.
I am counting my blessings.