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Newsletter: Summer 2015


Meet the Team – Who are you Barry Wickens?


What instrument/s do you teach and how long have you a member of the BHMA team?

I teach the violin in about 7 schools and I’m hoping to recruit some budding guitarists at one school.  I’ve been a member of BHMA teaching staff since 2001.


Can you tell us about your first musical memory?

I was introduced to music from the start but remember piano lessons from my Dad and playing the lower part of a piano duet with my older brother (probably because I have a recording of that).  I sang as a chorister at Worcester Cathedral choir from aged 8, which held responsibility and professional approach; the huge ceremonies with parading dignitaries were grand with music and dramatic colour in equal measure, all very memorable.



When did you first take up a musical instrument and what attracted you to music?

I never knew what I wanted to play, I just wanted to play every instrument I heard or saw on TV.  The piano was presented to me as an option because we had one and my Mum, Dad and brother played.  When we moved to the Isle of Wight, (I was 10 years old) the opportunity of learning the violin was offered.  This, I considered as MY instrument.  It was of personal pride that I was the only one in the family who played this and that seemed special.


What was your first album purchase/first gig?

The first album was “The Magic of the Violin”, a selection of energetic and flashy virtuoso pieces by soloist, High Bean paid for on a birthday present voucher.  My first gig, in a non-classical sense would have been one I play at myself, the folk club, singing Donovan and Johnny Cash songs, strumming a guitar when my voice had dropped a couple of octaves.


If you had to choose three records to take any to a desert island what would you choose and why?

The 3 records would be The Sonatas and Partitas for Violin by JS Bach.  Value for money, or what!  That’s a lot of material.  It is some of the hardest violin music to play both musically and technically and I can never tire or wonder at the composition.


What is the most challenging part of your working week and what motivates you when working with young musicians?

Communication is everything, as in most lines of work, so the biggest challenge for me is to slowly spread the message to school teaching staff to understand the added value to a child’s learning that we as instrumental music teachers can offer.  What motivates me is that I’m witness to young lives developing, through my subject they take away some techniques that put the building blocks together for learning, multi-task, discover and see their own potential in what is, let’s face it, a very confusing world.


Could you tell us about one of your recent musical highlights?

Playing violin in the rock band line-up, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel with full orchestra and choir to a capacity audience in The Royal Albert Hall, London in 2014.


What would be your top tip to any aspiring young musician?

Plan, be organised, never let others down and you shouldn’t ever use an excuse and when you perform, make it feel “for real”.  Sorry, the top tip would be, there’s no such thing as a good audience but there is a good performer.


Finally, if you were to learn another instrument, what would it be?

You never stop learning and I’ve been playing the Dobro, a slide resonator guitar with finger picks for the last 10 years and I would dearly like to get more flowing speed into my playing and even know what notes I’m playing, but then, that’s all part of the exploration and fun of learning!  More time!



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