Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Brownies and Central showcases

I spent some time this morning looking at a poster which had been attached to a lamp post on the Archway Road. "Brownies!" the poster yelled. "Highgate Village." It was only when I read the small print which said "empowering girls aged 7-14," that I realised the poster wasn't advertising a bakery!

I had no idea that the Brownies still existed as an institution. I thought the tides of technology would have swept them into obsolescence. God, I was desperate to join the Brownies as a kid! All my friends were girls, so it felt like such a cruel thing that I couldn't go to Brownie meets. It was like a secret club to which I specifically hadn't been invited. I felt the same about netball. I longed to play netball. Actually, I learned on Friday that my godson also likes playing netball, but will be forced to give up the game when he goes up to secondary school. So much gets written about a woman's right to participate in various sports. Far less, if anything, is written about sports which don't accept men. And, of course, these days, girls get to join the scouts...

All the doors to inequality apparently only need to open one way! The same is true in music, but it will eventually back fire. Forcing music teachers to get more girls playing brass instruments is completely ignoring the fact that it's the brass sections in most youth orchestras which provide the semblance of gender equality in terms of overall orchestral numbers. The majority of youth orchestras (I learned on Tuesday) are 60% female, 40% men and many of these lads play brass instruments. Is there a drive to get more men playing violins or harps or flutes? Is there hell! And I'll tell you for why. Instead of whinging about gender inequality and lack of opportunity, male musicians with a desperate desire to play, are forced to fight the prejudice silently because acknowledging that anti-male prejudice exists doesn't suit the PC argument. Enter a comprehensive school and you will still find young lads being duffed up simply for carrying their instruments into school. These kids are fighting society's role model which suggests, as men, they have to drink beer, play football... and treat women like second-class citizens.

Actually, what I would say is that the only people I know from my days at the Northampton music school who have successfully built careers for themselves as professional musicians are simply the ones who knuckled down and worked hard. Regardless of gender.

If you're looking for genuine inequality, start looking into the sorts of schools that people went to. Look at the career trajectories of comprehensive school kids versus public school children...

I went into town today to see the Central School musical theatre students' third year show case, which was a glorious affair. Nathan was rehearsing with his choir, so I took my friend Michael with me, who runs UK Jewish Film. It was, without question, the best drama school showcase I've ever seen. Not because it was glitzy and show-bizzy (in actual fact it was un-mic'd and accompanied only by a piano) but because it was the first time I've ever left a showcase feeling like I had a clear sense of every single student in terms of their abilities and strengths as performers. It's a really very fine crop of students. I feel incredibly lucky that they'll be the ones performing Em. It's going to be a hugely exciting adventure...

Michael and I had pizza after the show in a little place on Drury Lane where the tables are made of plastic and the knives and forks are in a bucket on the counter. Very much my sort of place!

I've been working very hard for the rest of the day. In fact it's gone 10pm and I'm still at it. The deadline for Em spins ever-closer, so I've given myself the task of polishing one song a day. The opening song is an eight-minute epic, so I had my work cut out doing that today. Nathan gets back from the rehearsal very soon, so I better get going so that I'm not all weird and antisocial when he comes home!

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