Last night we attended a concert at the University of NSW by the University Orchestra and Wind Symphony. My son is in his first year of a double degree in music and education, and plays piccolo and flute in the Wind Symphony. Hubby and I and my Dad were there, and I had my camera out to capture the event. Of course, I didn’t take any photos during the performance, but snapped some shots during the warm up and when they were taking their bows. They’re not great shots by any stretch of the imagination – the lighting in the auditorium is just not sufficient to get a decent shot with my camera – but I am still using them in my family album. Why would I bother with second-rate photos of one concert among the many Alex has been in, and will be in? Why would I take the time to make a page recording this concert?
I grew up playing music. From the age of 7, I learnt violin with a group of others around my age. We had some wonderful teachers and some wonderful experiences of playing together. My school years were filled with amazing experiences because of my involvement in music. Living in a country town, so many of the opportunities to travel came from music – we trooped around the country playing with orchestras, string ensembles and quartets, and singing in choirs. We played locally at monthly Art in the Park events, we played for the pensioners’ Christmas party at the club, we played for the factory workers during their lunchbreak, we played at the aged care home attached to the hospital. We provided pre-dinner music at Ambulance Society dinners, wedding receptions and school events. Our primary school orchestra went on tour around the central west of NSW, playing for other local schools. A small group of us busked for a year at Paddy’s Markets in Sydney, and other places, to raise money for a trip to Japan to attend the Suzuki Summer School. We put on concerts in churches, schools and civic centres. We attended workshops, masterclasses, summer music camps, eisteddfods, Schools Sepctaculars, Christmas carol nights and more. We performed on local TV, at the Sydney Opera House, in gardens and in people’s living rooms.
I remember squashing with 4 or 5 others into the back seat of someone’s car (no seatbelts in the back then!); car-sickness on interminable trips; having our windscreen smashed by a piece of coal flying off a truck on the way to an eisteddfod; lugging my violin case up and down steps at Circular Quay train station; falling asleep in the bus on the way home from a concert and tumbling right off my seat; singing rounds to pass the time spent in the car, bus or train; ravenously devouring my squashed packed lunch of potato salad sandwiches in between busking sets; getting lost in the maze of corridors backstage at the Opera House; the nervous moments before a performance and the even more nervous moments after. So many fun times, and good memories.
But here’s the thing. I have almost no photos of these experiences. In our family, Dad was the photographer, but he was usually at work when I was playing. It was Mum who drove me around to rehearsals and concerts, or someone else’s mum. And people just didn’t take a lot of photos back then. Film and processing were expensive, you had to wait to get the photos back, and they were so often disappointing when they came! Mostly, it just didn’t occur to people to keep a photographic record of daily life. I have no pictures of my violin teachers, hardly any pictures of us performing, none of the busking, or the rehearsals or most of the concerts, or the traveling. Such a big part of my life growing up, and so little to remember it by now!
That’s why, now, when my kids play music, I follow them around with my camera. AND I get those photos off my camera and into scrapbook pages! They might roll their eyes at their crazy mum, always taking photos, but one day they will be glad to have these moments preserved for them. Don’t let the important things in your life fade away! Capture those special moments – and even the hum-drum ones – and preserve them for the future. You’ll be so glad you did!