Many of us can recall our favourite teacher, or certainly the one that has had the most influential effect on our later life. This maybe our interest in literature or politics or a particular sport or indeed almost any area of interest that otherwise may have passed us by. An obvious one, certainly, is music. How many of us can remember being introduced to the wonders of the musical world by an enthusiastic and well-informed communicator? I suspect, many.
As an Encore Tour Manager this is something that I see happening before my very eyes each tour. I have had the great pleasure of seeing inspirational music teachers, conductors, musicians leading their group of students and giving them an experience that they will never forget. I don’t just mean the particular travel that they are doing but the obvious fulfilment they enjoy at striving for artistic excellence. Yes, the tour is something that we at Encore certainly hope will be an experience that they will never forget, but on a personal level I am continually delighted to see what happens when the concert part of the tour occurs. Up until then the young people have been their inimitable selves, some extrovert, some quiet, some shy, some funny – just fun folk enjoying themselves and taking in, in their own way, the excitements of travelling in a different country and experiencing something new. But when it comes to anything to do with the performance part of the tour, they suddenly turn into a whole, organic group. This may even be something as simple as their leader instructing them for some R&R, or a period of quiet, before a rehearsal or the concert. It is immediately apparent that this is a group of people who have worked hard together and are striving for the same result. And I can confirm that the results are extraordinary. Yes, this is the teacher they will remember for the rest of their lives for he/she has given them the opportunity to achieve something they, perhaps, had no idea they could do, and an introduction to one of the greatest pleasures of life – music!
I speak on a personal level here – as a parent. And I hope that some past, present and, hopefully, future Encore parents will be interested in this personal story. I certainly can thank my inspirational piano teacher for introducing me to classical music which has been such a joy to me since those early lessons. For instance, I cannot imagine life without Mozart, my abiding passion. Although I became technically proficient, it was apparent that my talents lay elsewhere. But in the case of my son Steve, it is a different story.
Having tried various instruments at primary school, one day he was handed a flugelhorn and the rest, as they say, is history. That music teacher was the start, then came the local Saturday morning Music Club, and then High School. It was here that the Assistant Music Head ran the Jazz Band, and Steve blossomed. The band gave many performances including tours abroad – just like Encore Tours. Later at University, where he was studying Literature and Philosophy, Steve conducted and played trumpet and flugelhorn in the highly successful Big Band. By his early twenties he had become a professional musician and today runs his own band – the Hackney Colliery Band (check out their website!) – which tours the UK and abroad and was the warm-up band before 80,000 people at the Closing Ceremony of the London Olympics. He also plays in many other bands including a Bollywood Band which often travels to India to play at weddings. And now he, too, is passing on his expertise and experience to young musicians through the pupils he teaches and the workshops he runs.
Now when I meet our Encore students I wonder how many of them may go on to a career in music or music teaching. Whether they do or not, they will have had handed to them by hard working people a most precious gift – the love of music!
About the Author
Stan Pretty has been an ACIS/Encore tour manager for over 15 years. As an actor, he has performed at the Royal Shakespeare Company, in the West End, throughout the UK and abroad. He has also directed a number of large-scale community plays and even received an MBE from the Queen at Buckingham Palace for his work in 2004.More Content by Stan Pretty