For my Arts paper this semester we had to write an introduction that covered our early experiences in the four aspects of arts that we will cover: visual arts, dance, drama and music.
Reading through what I had written and the contributions of many of my classmates I realised just how big an impact on the rest of our lives those early years and school age experiences have had. All it took in some cases was one person/teacher saying that they weren’t good enough and that was it, end of creativity in that field.
Apparently as soon as I could sit up in my pram my mum put a crayon in my hand and I've been drawing ever since, with varying degrees of confidence over the years - even if it was just doodles in the margins of my lecture notes! However doing still life for what felt like an eternity but was probably just a term at High School knocked my confidence for six, I couldn’t produce the photographic representation that seemed to be required. Perhaps this is why photography itself became such an important artistic outlet for me.
At playgroup (probably aged 3yrs old) I went off drama and 35yrs later I've still not got over it - I had to be a shepherd in the nativity play and stand with the boys in a dressing gown with a tea-towel on my head, I couldn't be an angel because I didn't have blond hair and blue eyes. It probably had something to do with my lifelong aversion to all things stereotypically girly too – I wonder would that have been different if I could’ve been an angel? Possibly not, but the fact that it still sticks out for me like a sore thumb shows just how much it affected my perception of myself, it took well into adulthood before I could accept that someone meant it if they said I was pretty because I just didn’t believe them.
I learned the recorder aged 5 (as did our entire class! That must have sounded terrible…), the flute aged 12 and sang in school/college choirs until I went to uni where the all the groups required you to do an audition and I can't sight read. I never properly ‘read’ the music, if I didn't know how it went I couldn't play it, even though I could tell you in theory what the notes were and how long they were supposed to be for. Sadly the aftermath of an arthritic condition in my early 20's has scuppered any instrument playing as I can't play for long enough to get/stay any good! But I still love to sing, when I’ve voice enough…
With dance I'm far happier ceilidh dancing (Scottish, country, folk, whatever) or salsa as then I don't have to decide what to do! I suspect the dreaded ‘Music & Movement’ sessions at primary school put me off any kind of free style/interpretative dance – I just felt silly and didn’t know what to do, being pressured to think of something on the spot has never been a goer for me at anything!
It’s an onerous responsibility to think that anything I might do could influence a child’s perception of their creative talents for life – hopefully at best I can meet the maxim of ‘do no harm’ and hopefully somewhere along the line do some good.