Tag Archives: ambition


The many stages involved in running the East Lothian Guitar Ensemble include: recruiting; selecting repertoire, arranging and distributing music; preparation of play-along files and (lately) videos; various admin tasks. One final verb remains – pruning. Parts issued in September are not performed until March and in the intervening months one of two things may happen:

  • a pupil’s ensemble skills, progress, enthusiasm, inclination to practise and to make the most of resources provided may take both of us by surprise and they may ask for a more challenging part (on the understanding that they can revert to the existing part if it turns out that we have shot for the wrong moon)

  • for a variety of reasons, the anticipated amount of flourishing may not fully materialise and a pupil may face the prospect of playing a part (in front of approx 500 people) with which they are not completely comfortable

In the latter case there is insufficient time to step down to a new part and a more likely solution is to prune the existing part so that no daunting passages remain to darken the psychology of an otherwise celebratory evening. What interests me is the varied response to this suggestion. Some are gratefully relieved*, while for others the very suggestion is the final spur required to complete the task as planned. Often the outcomes confound expectation and this is one of the things that keeps life interesting – the tension between accumulated professional experience and the continuing surprise of human behaviour.

* the burden of ensemble work is quite heavy for pupils. Depending on involvement in school and authority concerts, Burns Suppers etc. they could be asked to learn anywhere between 12 and 18 A4 pages of music each year.