A breath of fresh air

Jonathan Class 1
(1 min read) Yesterday I welcomed a guest for the day. We had both studied at Northwestern University a lifetime ago and we passed many times in the hallways of the practice building, went to each other’s recitals, and even had classes with each other’s teachers.

Jonathan is a professional tuba player. He took the day off from his job playing for the West End show Scottsboro Boys to come down to Chichester for the day. At first, by MA students looked slightly surprised when I said that I had arranged a class with a tuba player. There are pianists, singers, violin, guitar, but none of them are brass players. It was fantastic. Jonathan also spent time hearing and talking with the undergraduate low brass players.

We all learned. There was laughter. The music and the learning was reinforced and students were given permission to think and believe in what they were doing. It is relevant not only to tuba players, not only to string players, not only to musicians, but to all learners.

My favourite exchange was between one of the brass students and Jonathan, where the student demonstrated how a student thinks sometimes – with years of training in following instructions. The student was playing and stopped and said:


Jonathan: Why are you saying sorry?

#3366ff;">Student: I didn’t breathe when you told me.

Jonathan: But you don’t have to do what you’re told. What I say is right for me, but I’m me and you’re you. That’s why you go away and sing it and figure out what’s right for you. – You’re only as good as the work you put into it. It doesn’t matter if you can’t play it today, or tomorrow, or next week, but if you can take it apart and work on bits and you know you are getting a bit better then that’s ok. You’ve got to push yourself, but not destroy your confidence. It’s about balance. Music is a doing word. You’ve got to do it.

I loved that. It is relevant if you are a musician, and if not, replace the word ‘music’ and ‘breathe’ with ‘learning’ and it is relevant to you too.

Thank you Jonathan for sharing your day with me and with my students.

Jonathan Class 2


  1. Tania Sheko

    That would be a useful pre-lesson chant. Imagine if all educators prefaced their class with these words. I’ll pass them onto my son who is doing second year Music. Push yourself but not destroy yourself – also a gem. Thanks for sharing this, Laura.

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