I’ve spent a few hours this month practising this Haydn piano sonata. It’s really taken me back. I remember my mother practising it when I was about ten or eleven. I only thought about this when I started working on it but I think the fact that she played the piano a lot had a lot to do with me growing up with a passion for classical music. It’s obvious, really. I, her captive audience, heard her favourite pieces played often and got to know them. This was music without lyrics (although there was that, too, mostly from the National Songbook), music made of memorable ideas rather than melodies.
It is a commonplace to say of literacy, that if you want your children to enjoy reading books, enjoy reading books with them. If my experience of childhood is anything to go on, then, the same thing goes for music. When I mention to people that I’m a musician they often tell me that they “used to play” the clarinet, the violin or whatever. (I sympathize: I made very little music for over a decade. Other things seemed more important). Others tell me they would “like to” learn an instrument. If all those people got learning or dusted down their old instruments and got playing them again (at whatever level) they would be doing the next generation a great favour. Just as with reading books, if making music is something adults make time for and do, it’s something children will want to do too.