Back to Blog: Don’t be Restricted!

Right, I’m back in business.

For the last two weeks I have been regrettably cruising outside the blogosphere. That’s not to say I haven’t been writing – I pretty much haven’t stopped since you last heard from me. But I haven’t had the opportunity to put my words up on my blog lately. 

Over the last two weeks I have been writing songs for a youth theatre course with the aim to produce a musical by the end of it. This is very much a sideline to all my other activities, but it is certainly the most regular creative work that I get, having been approached to do this for the past few years. Whilst I enjoy writing songs, and it is great fun working with the kids to produce a musical in two weeks, it does require me to have to be able to keep my nerve when doing something that is massively outside of my comfort zone –

Playing the piano.

People often look at me and note that I very rarely get intimidated by going up on a stage and reciting poetry or acting in a play or whatever. And to a certain extent that is true. Since a very young age, I have been milling around on the stage in one way or another which invariably means that now, twenty odd years later, I have absolutely no problem with standing up on stage and making an idiot out of myself. In fact, I rather enjoy it. 

But sitting next to a piano, with an entire cast of youngsters relying on me not to screw up, is an entirely different affair. People often say, “Nick, you have the music in front of you, even if you get lost it’s not a problem…” But it is. For as much as songwriting on these courses provides a reasonable amount of my income every year, it is with deepest regret that I cannot read a single note of sheet music. 

Not one.

And it’s not like I haven’t tried. My father used to be a music teacher and spent many hours attempting to teach me how to read music, but to no avail. I am the dyslexic of the music world. 

Everything I write and play on the piano is done entirely from memory. Which means, somewhere in the filing cabinet that is my head, there are a dozen songs still floating around bashing into each other and using up valuable brain power. And they will probably have pride of place in my head for the next two weeks or so.  But that is not the point. 

The point is, I am not a typical musician. I have no formal training. I cannot read sheet music. And yet every year, the producers of this youth theatre company will happily part with the company’s money to hire me to work with them for two weeks every year. And why?

Because they understand that there is more to creativity than having a piece of paper from a prestigious university saying that you are creative. In fact, I know of very few people who even care if you have a degree or a diploma or certificate in a creative discipline – what they care about is that you can do the job. 

So get out there. If you want to write poetry, write poetry. If you want to write a novel, do it – there’s nothing stopping you. And if you’re worried that you haven’t got a piece of paper that says the following:

So and So is Good at Such and Such”

Then don’t worry. Because ultimately, it’s just a piece of paper….

…And I don’t have one either!


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