May 6, 2011 at 7:30 PM
I have probably talked about this briefly before in another blog post, but following the full-on conversation I had with a friend about it last night, I decided to write about it properly. Children, are strange things. Technically at 16 I am half adult, half child still, according to UK law. I am part of the murky patch that allows me to do certain things but not others. Legally, I can get married (with my parent's permission), get a house, claim benefits, leave school, start a family, play the lottery, smoke, even have an alcoholic drink with a meal in a pub, etcetera, you get the gist. Yet I cannot drive until the age of 17, I am not allowed to purchase tobacco or alcohol until I am 18, and I am still covered under numerous child protection acts.
Now, as I am growing up, I am experiencing a different life. I am becoming increasingly a part of a more adult, more mature and much more scary world. I am learning how to be much more independent and free, but at the same time, experience new anxieties I have never had about becoming my own person.
Each day is like a fresh start to a child, especially at primary school age. The only worries children carry around are the ones that their best friend may not invite them to their party if they fall out over something! Children learn and experience things differently. Everything is so visual, and so loud, and new situations are simply challenges can be overcome with just a little effort and guidance. Children start new projects only to never finish them. They find new crazes in popular playground gadgets and items. They follow the crowd, yet they explore so differently. Only a handful of children who for instance, start an instrument, actually take that skill into adulthood. They are the special ones amongst the crowd.
Also, as a child, people are just people and society is just society. There are bad people, and good people. When someone grows up, they can gauge personalities more, and how to deal with certain situations. A child has to learn this over time. Adults have more experience. Adults, however, are more rooted in their ways. They can be somewhat like stubborn weeds - hard to dig up. New situations can be extremely scary to an adult, and hard to overcome, as much as they may not like to admit it. They are the top of the tree as far as it goes with being exposed. They are the ones who will guide the younger generations and their minds are not as malleable as a child's.
I always remember my parents telling me that I should enjoy every single second of my childhood because it would be the best time of my life, the time where I could learn, the time that I could just be me. I used to roll my eyes and laugh and say 'I still have X amount of years to go, which is too many!' Every child can't wait to grow up. They want to get out there and buy a house and live away from people, get a very cool job and have lots and lots of money and live off take-aways and have all the luxuries to live like kings and queens.
(Me aged 9 in my first church choir's cassock and ruff)
But now I know exactly what they meant. I still remember so clearly sitting in the classroom as an 8 year old, busily writing down the names of music notes I was learning by thinking of the rhymes 'Every Good Boy Deserves Football,' 'FACE', and 'All Cows Eat Grass.' I remember it like it was just yesterday, and now I can rifle through thousands and thousands of memories which end up with me at this point, right here, right now, as I write this blog post for you to read. These are my thoughts at this moment in time. And it scares me. It truly scares me how fast everything has gone and how the time that I once had has vanished into nothing but memories.
Next week, I officially finish my compulsory education. Class of 2011 will soon be gone. All that nurturing, all that caring, that so many people have done over this time, will be over. We will leave school. We aren't the first class to have left school, and we certainly won't be the last, but right now, we are the ones who are facing these big changes. We are the ones who are making our final decisions before we are released into the big, wide world. Personally, I'll be returning to 6th form, although in another school. But it won't be the same. I am not legally required to return to education in any way. For all the government care, I could be going out and finding some sort of job.
As I near the end of my childhood and hold on to those few strands of innocent immaturity I have left, I just want to say this. I want to be proud of the child that I was, and I want to be proud of the adult that I will soon be. I want to take those memories of learning how to read music on a stave as an 8 year old, and all the thousands of other memories from my life, and I want to put them together like a jigsaw in order to shape my future. I will never become a vet or a forensic scientist or a ballerina or any of the other crazy things I wanted to be as a child. I will be Eloise Garland, a musician. I am determined that one day I will be a professional musician. And do you know what? As scary as it is, and as terrified as I am, I can't wait to start on the road towards becoming an adult!
Eloise I do not know how good a muso you are but baby you can write. If you do not go into the journalistic field with writing as your vocation you will be wasting a huge talent.
Great blog, Eloise. In general, I had similar feelings when I graduated, as well.
But I also find what you say very interesting because I've never felt as if my childhood was worth going back to or re-living. And I'm so in the minority! But I'm so glad it's over; I couldn't control anything, nobody took me as seriously as they would an adult, the compulsory schoolwork was DULL DULL DULL, and I always felt ostracized or outside of everything, like a teacher's pet. I'm enjoying being 21 much more than I enjoyed being 16. I hope you feel the same way in five years!! :)
Anyway, it's great to get other people's perceptions on this rite of passage, especially when it is so well-written. (And you know, it is possible to be a professional musician and writer. ;) )
Hi Eloise, you really have a most wonderful gift for writing and since it seems to flow so naturally, there is a risk that you might undervalue how special that ability is. I do hope you enjoy and make more of this facility through your life.
I remember 16 very vividly too (I'm now 50) That year I finished school, and had experienced the most wonderful encouragement and support of all my interests. I attended a school that helped me in every way to pursue my passions, which were musical, artisitic and scientific. Other students with a flair for writing, poetry, drama and public speaking were similarly encouraged.
Our teachers believed in the pursuit of knowledge and the development of one's interests and character above any concern for vocation. It was expected that the majority would pursue 'safe' careers, but from our ranks also emerged some talented risk takers: a film-actor, a theatre designer, writers, scientific researchers. This attitude that anything is possible has stayed with me all my life.
As soon as I left school I found things were very different in the mainstream of education and vocational training. I and my school friends had had a truly rare education, and for many subsequent years it did indeed seem as if the best was over. I encountered at university attitudes of such conservatism, pragmatism and hypocrisy, that I felt quite lost.
There were individual exceptions of course: inspirational teachers or fellow students with the determination to excel and fulfil their personal destiny. But the effect of the mediocre majority, encountered on a daily basis can have a corrosive effect. In my case I suffered much self doubt.
But the experience we have as musicians is particularly conducive to maintaining the right attitude. There are two main reasons for this: the first is the nature of the work itself which builds incrementally on achievements gained only by very patient, incessant application. If one enjoys this process, then nothing in life is too difficult. The other key aspect is the way in which music is taught: by apprenticeship, to a master of the craft, one to one. This model, which relies on mutual respect, dedication and commitment, is rather undervalued (consider the pay rates of most teachers) yet it is the best way ever invented of acquiring skill and mastery.
My realisation of the importance of such apprenticeships has shaped my approach to all my interests. Do not settle for the average, seek out the best. You may be very surprised how approachable some of the most accomplished and successful people (in any field) can be: they were students too once, and they understand the processes and sincerely respect anyone prepared to work as hard.
Most importantly, one must ignore the nay-sayers, the people who gave up and rationalise their decisions by trying to encourage others to give up, or even put impediments in their way. This is a real phenomenon. It is tragic and can make one very angry. I have encountered quite a few, and so will you. These people will ascribe their negativity to the wisdom of age and adulthood, but that is all nonsense.
Stay young (in attitude) as you acquire experience, and life will remain joyous.
Very interesting blog. Please remember that it is all a wonderful journey. Enjoy it as much as you can. As a musician, that will help. But remember that parts of it will be difficult, and that's a part of what makes it wonderful. Good luck.
I felt that way about being 8, too. I loved being 8. I didn't love being 16. It got better again in my late teens/early 20's. And even at 45, I remember being 8 pretty well. I started learning the violin when I was 7, and I remember my first method book very well, and the sequel to it. And then in my 2nd year I started learning pieces, one was called "Nanette at Court" and the other was called "Exalted Chorus" by Haydn. The pieces from this time you will probably remember and be able to play by heart for the rest of your life, and they will be a source of joy and delight to you, even as you learn and perform more complex music. Congratulations on your graduation!
that`s a wonderful and thoughtful blog which I thoroughly enjoyed reading.
Sorry I cannot let go of my innate tendency to quibble but I honbeslt believe that this Orwellian division of child and adult time (childhood good, adulthood bad baaaah baaah) is misleading. It`s a dangerous way of thinking. Much better to understand and believe from now that every day is a wonderful gift in which one can feel gratitude and love for everythign around us, even the `bad` things. I remeber Rubenstein said that he even appreciated toothache because it reminded him that he was truly alive.
This is the key to a joyful life and it is the one great thing that adults are really capapble of. Not that I think you have any problems ;)
Well written! But if you think that things are going fast at 16, wait until you hit 40. And now that I'm 60, time is going by so fast that it's scary. But enjoy it, wherever you are - and hang on to music. Don't worry if you stop playing for a while; I played cornet for 8 or 9 years starting at age 8 and then didn't touch an instrument until nearly 30 years later when I picked up first guitar, then mandolin, and finally violin. The groundwork has been done - you'll always be able to come back and pick it up again. At my stage in life, music has become and will remain an important part. It's a wonderfully effective way to stay young.
I totaly understand. Since 9/11, i havent really had a childhood in the true sense of the word. My dad was gone so much in the many countries that end in "stan", that I barely talked to him. When he was home, he pulled graveyard shift at the MB. After 9/11, I took on responsibilites of a much older person and now when I hang around people my age who didnt grow up in the military, I cant relate to them at all.
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