Seeking Church Accoustics

Picture & Story by Neil Morrall

I went to the church up on the hill yesterday morning (no, really!) to see if it would make a good setting for recording a guitar piece for a project I have in mind. Since the piece (from a Bach Cantata) has a religious theme, all that space, stone and stained glass could be just what the doctor ordered.

Arrived at midday just after the fire and brimstone, and was met by a very friendly bunch having tea and biscuits.

After a quick chat to the Minister, organist ‘Tim’ was seconded to show me around and then gave me a guided tour of the 19th Century organ.

As he was explaining the bewildering control mechanisms that the organist (human octopus) employs to produce its various colors and tones, some young kids, three girls and a very young boy, who had been playing nearby, stopped what they were doing and shyly began to gravitate to us.

While the young boy flitted between the ancient pews with gaze locked on me like a cat in a new home, the young girls seemed fascinated by the music.

I asked one if she played an instrument and she said she did, the cello and some piano.

That was a bit of a surprise as she seemed only about seven.
Then noticing the piano nearby, she went over and lifted the lid and played through a quaint little right-hand study, explaining how she was going for her grade one exam.

But then another of the girls sat down and to my amazement played a Beethoven Minuet!

She would have been all of ten years old.

We had a very interesting chat about music and practice and some of the pitfalls of learning pieces and so on, but on top of that what also shone through was the charming absence of sophistry or pretense they displayed.

In a world that seems bent on turning children into ‘little activists’ and premature ‘kidults’, their grace and guileless innocence will stay with me for a long time. I hope it does too with them …

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