July 10 to 16, 2000
I grew up in the southeast of England, just outside Guildford, Surrey . My father was a carpenter, my mother a housewife. My mother had taken piano lessons in her youth and for this reason there was a piano in the house. Apparently at age 3 I could bash out "Humpty Dumpty" on this instrument but I was not destined to be a pianist. My parents gave the piano away when we moved as it took up too much space!! This was a household where aesthetic values were placed fairly low and encouragement took the form of "if you like"! My next foray into the musical world was at around age 6. My older sister was learning recorder at school and I gave no-one any peace until I too was the proud owner of a Schott school recorder. Using my sister`s books I taught myself to play until a couple of years later recorder became a part of my school curriculum too. As I had already taught myself to read music and had played to the end of "The Schott Recorder Book 2" (the green one) I found these group lessons mind numbingly boring and rapidly lost interest. At age 12 I started on trumpet in the school band. After about 6 months I had made so much progress that I was allowed to play in the house instead of the garage!! Please don`t pity me, my friend who was learning trombone had to practice at the end of the garden!
My parents couldn`t afford the lessons after the first year but the music teacher let me keep on using the instrument as I was the only one in a school of 800 pupils who expressed a wish to take music! However, they couldn`t very well make a class for one pupil and I was told that Art was nearly the same thing. I taught myself and joined the Salvation Army as this was the only band in my area. I didn`t get "saved" but did see the light about music being my passion.
At 16 I joined the military as a musician. There never would have been any chance of my parents being able to afford sending me through a music school, this way I would get a musical education and lots of practical experience.
While at the band school I started dabbling in flute and this proved to be to be my lifeline when a couple of years later I started getting throat problems from the trumpet playing (well what do you expect when you teach yourself?). As my band was about to lose their flutist I had the opportunity to change to flute, practicing like someone possessed (8 hours a day) to make the grade. I was still basically self taught in the first years, but took advantage of a 3 year posting to Detmold, home of the North German Music Academy, to get myself some proper tuition.
On a tour of Norway I met my wife and moved here in 1990, carried on my studies with Torkil Bye of the Oslo Philharmonic and travelled over to London in 1993 to take ARCM in performance.
I started teaching when I came to Norway as it was the only kind of work I could get. I found out that I really enjoy teaching and now divide my time between teaching and performing.
Most of my playing work is as a soloist but I get the odd orchestra gig and some ensemble work. I work together with a Japanese pianist, Lirica Yamasa Skarvang ( yes she`s married to a Norwegian too) and we call ourselves "Duo Concertante". The sound clip was recorded with Lirica in my living room so I apologise if the quality is a bit poor. As there are so many Americans on the list we decided to play something by one of your country-men, Arthur Foote. This is "Aubade Villageoise" from his "Trois Pieces".
On the teaching side I`m using the Yamaha fife to teach ever younger kids, currently my youngest student is 5. Since 1996 I`ve held a small position in Oslo`s talent school. Teaching here was one of the reasons I wanted to start kids earlier on flute, to try and eventually bridge the enormous gap between whizkids on violin/ piano and those that traditionally start later on wind instruments.
Starting so late with flute has had it`s advantages. Of course I`ve always felt like I`m playing catch up with other players, but I was old enough as a beginner to be able to understand and remember the processes involved in learning an instrument. This coupled with a constant fear of not being good enough pushed me to try just about every different method to improve my playing and to try and understand the science and mechanics involved in case I was missing something. When I did start teaching I found that I was pretty good at it and able to help students that others had written off because they could find no way to teach them.
And there you have it, my life story up to 37 years of age. When I`m not teaching or playing I spend my time with my wife and daughter (7) fishing, skiing and trying to recreate an English garden on a Norwegian mountain where the winters are most definitely of the Arctic kind. Life is goood!!