How I got into Music, by Simon

simon sousaphone

I started making music when I was quite young, I think I was about 9 years old when I first started taking piano lessons. I always wanted to play the saxophone as well as the piano and mistakenly thought it was a brass instrument.  At primary school I duly signed up for brass lessons and was handed a euphonium, there followed a career in brass playing with a bit of piano on the side!

During secondary school all of my spare time was filled with music making. I was involved in the local youth orchestra, brass band and jazz band which meant I was doing a lot of playing. I knew fairly early on, probably around Year 8, that I wanted to make a career out of music. My instrumental teachers instilled in me the importance of practice and I was pretty good at making sure I practised brass and piano every single day. I really wanted to be the best I could be and quickly worked through my grade exams. These were like some sort of holy grail whilst at school and that when you passed your Grade 8 you went to some mythical level- I realise now that was a load of rubbish.

Following secondary school I went on to sixth form college and was excited to be able to spend more of my time on my music. I also studied English Literature and Sociology. It was when I moved to college I started to get really interested in the history of music and harmony. I started to really enjoy listening to classical music as I began to understand it better. I really enjoyed the large scale orchestral works of composers like Bruckner and Mahler and a lifetime love for that music was fostered. During this time I was really questioning whether I wanted to go for a more practical conservatoire degree or the more traditional university course after college.
In the end I opted for both and went to Manchester University and The Royal Northern College of Music. Whilst studying at these places I really began to realise just how competitive the music industry is and that I had always been ‘a big fish in a small pond.’  I started playing with some really top class musicians and making friends and colleagues I still play and work with now. It really is one of the best times of your life, having that complete focus on your music. There is plenty of competition to spur you on and so many opportunities if you are studying in one of the big cities like London, Birmingham or Manchester.  I also got interested in some pretty niche areas with my university degree! Soviet film music of the 1930s became a particular interest of mine during that period!
My career has been a mixture of performing and teaching. I have been very lucky, I have performed all over the world and played in many of the world’s top venues. I have managed to make money out of playing instruments- which was always the goal- but never the millions I would have liked!!!  I have also had the opportunity to teach all over the world. I have taught music in Cambodia and Australia as well as the UK.  Now I have a family, I have less time for performing and teaching is my focus. I love working at sixth form level as that is when my love of music really evolved.  Music is a  fantastic subject to study and a fantastic career to have. It has taken me all over the world and I have met some amazing people along the way……