It was the most enjoyable class I have ever taken.
Wednesday afternoons in the Newpark School of Music. Ensemble class. You have three hours – now go and play. This particular Year of Wednesdays is a huge part of the reason why I am now playing music for a living.
The excitement of writing new music with friends. The satisfaction of producing something good. And above all, the buzz of playing with others.
Tutors would float from room to room and one day a young drum tutor called Seán came into our room. He asked us what we were working on – it was an original tune – and we played it for him.
Now this tune had just been written, so there was no way he could have heard it before. It wasn’t straightforward (well we didn’t think so anyway), yet after Seán had heard it once, he asked our drummer if could play for a bit, and proceeded to play the song with us with frightening accuracy and in ways that our drummer had never considered.
It was the single most amazing piece of recall and execution I have ever witnessed.
But that’s fine for me to say – it wasn’t a piano tutor who walked into the room. How was our drummer feeling?
Possibly in awe. Possibly dumbstruck. Possibly very small. Whatever his emotions were, one way or another he now had a choice.
Does he wait till Seán leaves the room, put on a macho show, say he prefers it the way he had played it and keep playing it as such? Or does he park his ego on the shelf, open his mind, and ask Seán to show him some of the stuff he played in order to learn?
He chose to learn, and has been learning ever since.
His name is Steve Kohlmann (above), and now, 15 years later it has come full circle. Because tomorrow night he, along with another friend and colleague from that course – Dave Flynn (also above) – will be joining me to celebrate the launch of my new album.
It’s title? A Year of Wednesdays.