It’s holiday time and heading down to the South Coast of England is a must, especially with the current heat wave we are experiencing. I grew up on the South Coast, it is very much like returning home, the smells, the sounds and feel of the sand between toes.
Wandering along the shoreline, I was reminded of childhood play. Growing up not far from the waters edge, the sea and the shore was a childhood playground. A child’s eye is one that notices small details and is curious. I remember I was curious about razor clams, still in their shells, long and white and squidgey, curious about the dried sea pods which crackled underfoot and the slimy black sea rocks that made you slip and splash into pools. The sea was a family business, dad loved the sea, he was never more happy than when floating in cold salty water, for his ‘daily dip’ with his wrinkled toes wriggling and sticking out.
It occurred to me, the shore and salty water was both playground and classroom, and dad the tutor. He taught me the valuable lesson of how to notice, how to stop still, with your eyes closed and feel the air and listen, how to look and look at the different multi-coloured pebbles on the sand. Under the tutorage of dad I would spend hours looking for the ellusive stone with a hole in it, the ‘magic stone’. If you were lucky you even found one that glittered with geological promise. Through the act of searching, he taught me how to look at everything, in small detail, to appreciate the beauty of the dried crab shell, or the smell of the black sea weed. I explored and explored, until the knowledge of the different kinds of sands, the taste of the water, became embodied within me, and as an adult I can conjure it up at a moments notice.
This sandy, gritty playground, was full of exploration and play. My dad taught me the value of noticing, of taking time, of being mindful (before mindfulness was a thing). I never appreciated it at the time, but his lessons were the best, and far better than anything I learnt from books or at school. As a musician, I aim to apply those lessons in life and musicality, to explore, to notice, to be mindful, to be playful, to embody the sounds. It is these aspects of musicianship that I believe are crucial to making music, to being IN music – if you like. He is not around today, but thank you dad for the lessons.