Highlights from Verity's Musical Journey

Schooldays. If it weren't for the composer Gordon Jacob, I might never have pursued music beyond my school years. He kindly suggested (after having heard me play in a school concert) that I come and play to a 'proper teacher'. After a year of considerable re-training with the violist, John White, I went to study with David Martin, a professor at the Royal Academy of Music.

Royal Academy of Music. It was a natural step, a year later, to gain admission to the Royal Academy and to continue studying with David Martin. At that time, I had decided that orchestral playing 'wasn't for me' and threw myself into other areas of musical activity. Piano began to figure more importantly, along with chamber music, harmony, and aural training - which I excelled in. As well as several prizes, I was awarded the RAM's highest award for violin performance, the Recital diploma.

London School of Theology.A growing awareness of the importance of the spiritual side of life, and a sense that I was being asked to follow a radically different path, led to me accepting a year's contract as resident musician at a theological college in North London (now the London School of Theology). This must have shocked everybody, as the move went against everyone's expectations, including my own! During the year, as well as studying theology, I played piano and violin for all the college services, accompanied the choir, and taught piano.

Soho. Next, I found myself living in a church flat in Soho! A mixture of teaching, playing violin (solo and chamber music), organ playing (St. Martin-in-the-Fields) and piano accompaniment for a choir and ballet school kept me extremely busy but very poor!.

Northern Ireland.In 1985 I was invited to work in Northern Ireland at a Community of Reconciliation in Rostrevor, County Down. The Centre (Christian Renewal Centre) provided a neutral meeting-ground for people from both Protestant and Catholic backgrounds. Again, my duties included providing music for the services, but also involved helping run the guest house (cooking, cleaning, office work). Although the focus of the work wasn't musical, the experience of assimilating others' very different viewpoints made a deep impact, as did meeting wonderful people, some of whom had been involved in, or were victims of, terrorism. However, after nearly two years, I made my move back into music.

Eire - Israel. To accomplish the transition, I worked at Aravon School, Co. Wicklow as an assistant matron. This gave me plenty of time to practise! In the summer of 1987 I accepted a position as Co-principal Second Violin with the Kibbutz Chamber Orchestra of Israel - a one-year contract. My arrival in Israel coincided with the outbreak of the first Intifada - a disturbing time for all, one in which I became ever more aware of the complexities of the region, and the pain inherent within both Jewish and Palestinian communities. Musically, the year was quite an amazing experience - for example, one does not easily forget performing Bach's Magnificat in the Old City of Jerusalem to a mixed audience of Germans and Jews! I also had the opportunity to join a baroque ensemble based in Jerusalem, and taught piano to members of the Kibbutz I where I was based.

Cambridge - Wells. Having arrived back, totally exhausted, I became a library assistant at the Cambridge College of Arts and Technology, before taking up a position at Wells Cathedral Music School. There, I organised the practice arrangements for the specialist musicians, taught violin, piano, theory, aural training, accompanied students on the piano, ran the library and was resident Warden of the Music School. Wells was a musically stimulating, but intense environment - the violin didn't come out of its case much, except to assist the then Bishop (George Carey) with Parish Missions.

Canterbury - Deal. Moving on from Wells involved a leap of faith - to Canterbury - where, after a short period of self-employment, I accepted the job of Music Librarian for the Royal Marines Band Service, based at Deal. I envisaged this post being ideal - music-related, but not so demanding as to preclude playing the violin outside of working hours. This quickly proved true, with piano accompaniment, chamber music, orchestral and occasional solo engagements filling the gaps in the diary.

Portsmouth. In 1996, Deal barracks closed, necessitating relocation to Portsmouth. With the move, came opportunities for further training, including a BSc in Librarianship (1st Class Hons), and more opportunities for involvement in the local musical scene. From 2003 onwards the latter steadily grew to the extent that in April 2006 I decided, that in order to be true to the gift of music that is very much in my heart, I would have to move on - to pursue music full-time once again.

So now, as well as playing the violin and providing piano accompaniment in the Portsmouth area, throughout Hampshire and beyond, I now teach at Westhill Park School, Titchfield, Boundary Oak, Fareham, and privately at home in Cosham, Portsmouth. I am currently studying for an MA in Music Education at Reading University (Mtpp course).

Please feel free to contact me via the links provided.

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