2017: A year In Reflection

It’s December 31st and like many people, I’m looking forward to 2018 whilst reminiscing  (and trying to forget) about many events that 2017 brought.  Here’s a little photo diary documenting things I’d like to remember of 2017.

Travel

I actually started off the year 2017 in northern Italy with my boyfriend and his parents. There, I learned to ski and had an amazing first time in taking in the wonderful sights, culture, food and wine that Italy has to offer.

In July 2017, enjoyed a lovely holiday seeing friends in Mallorca for 11 days. It really was a great time to relax after a stressful and demanding academic year and best of all the weather was beautifully hot for the whole time – I caught a tan! We met some lovely people out there and I’d love to return next summer.

Events & Meeting People & Opportunities

2017 was a year in which I continually met people unexpectedly and went to events that have led to further opportunity. I can’t quite remember everything/everyone in perfect chronological order (it’s been a long year) but here’s a few people in no particular order at all.

I met:

  • Ayanna-Witter Johnson, someone who’s music I have been following since I was a teenager.
  • Germa Adan, singer-songwriter/violinist/guitarist… basically brilliant musician who I had the pleasure of working with and getting to know. I know consider her mentor as well as a friend and colleague. Germa invited me to accompany her at a few gigs including a set at Sidmouth Folk Week and Cecil Sharpe House in London
  • Millicent Stephenson, Midlands’-based saxophonist, musician and mentor
  • Tai Murray, violinist
  • Chi-Chi Nwanoku, double bassist and founder of the Chineke! Orchestra
  • Sir John Peace, Lord-Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire & his deputy
  • Sir John Crabtree, Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands
  • Nicky Brown, producer
  • Prince Edward, Duke Wessex, Royal patron for Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

the list goes on…I bumped into the Lord Mayor of Nottingham Michael Edwards and his wife at a few events and  the Sheriff of Nottingham also. I can’t quite remember everything/everyone but suffice to say, I met some really inspirational and amazing people this year, most of them out of the blue or with not much notice at all and the opportunities and conversations have been special.

Some events and personal highlights include:

  • Playing at SSE Wembley Arena
  • Won Be Inspired Youth Ward from the Association of Jamaican Nationals
  • Interview on BBC Radio West Midlands
  • Playing at Symphony Hall and Town Hall Birmingham for the first time
  • Had my first public speaking engagements
  • My first UK with Joe Broughton’s Conservatoire Folk Ensemble playing at various venues and folk festivals

Some highlights of my personal life include:

  • Taking advantage of performance opportunities despite having performance anxiety
  • Attending a music course
  • not letting anxiety and depression rule my life and taking advantage of opportunities that have come my way
  • Attending conferences, meeting and networking with people which is quite an achievement for me as an introvert
  • Writing for D’Addario Orchestral’s online magazine Behind the Bridge
  • Acquiring more violin/piano students and finding it extremely rewarding
  • Formation of my new string quartet
  • Spending time with my sisters despite us living in the 3 different cities
  • Being able to meet up and keep in touch with friends who live far away
  • Starting driving lessons
  • Turning 21

2017 has been a good year for me and despite having those demotivated down days, I’m really chuffed with all I’ve done this year and I’m grateful to everyone who has been supportive and looking out for me. Onwards and upwards in 2018!

IMG_0001

Advertisements

New Experiences: Italy 2016/2017

Over Christmas and the New Year, I had an amazing  8-day trip to South Tyrol in Northern Italy. I had never travelled to Italy before. This area is particularly popular for skiing and I’d never skied before so the trip was a completely new experience for me. I’m the type of person that will try anything once  – food, experiences, everything… BUT – if it doesn’t go well or I simply don’t like it, I will not do it again.

So on my first day, I tried to learn the basics of skiing -stopping and starting in the DSC_4283snowplough position. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the hang of it so well. I began with a really positive attitude and tried to take in all the information from my boyfriend and his dad.  Bearing in mind this is the nursery slope for children learning how to ski, I was determined to do well. I plucked up the courage to try and push off and it worked! All for a split second then I found myself uncontrollably moving backwards. Then I started to panic saying “Why am I moving backwards, why am I moving backwards? I want to go forwards”. I kept going backwards for what seemed like forever until I hit the travelator that takes children up and down the slope and landed on my bottom. Despite hugely embarrassing myself, by stopping the travelator and everyone on it looking unimpressed, I wanted to try again. So I got up, dusted the snow off myself and had another go. However, little by little, my confidence started to wane as I became more flustered by all the information I had to take in. The next thing I know, I’m slowly and involuntarily moving off and the slope is increasingly becoming more steep. At first I was calm and thought to myself that I’d probably stop in a few seconds…somehow. Then  the panic had set in…I realised that I wasn’t stopping and that I was accelerating too. I shout “Jack!” (my boyfriend). He tried to ski after me but I went at such a speed he couldn’t catch me. It was too late. Time seemed to stand still and it was like an out-of-body experience watching myself in slow motion hurtling down the hill knowing that there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. To make matters worse, at the bottom of the slope stood a huge crowd of parents and children watching the others ski down. I knew I would go flying into the crowd and I thought that they’d see me coming and move but they didn’t… and I kept hurtling down the slope only for my head to hit the a flagpole (for the ski school) and a small child to break my fall.

Luckily the only thing bruised was my dignity and I didn’t hurt myself, just the small child I skied (I use the term loosely) into.  I WAS MORTIFIED. I couldn’t believe what had just happened! Half of me was laughing at myself and half of me just wanted to crawl under a rock and never be seen again – I couldn’t believe how much I embarrassed myself in front of so many people. Fortunately, a ski instructor and a random lady help me up, asked  if I was ok and my boyfriend and his dad took me away.

I’m actually really proud of myself because had that happened to me even six months ago, I wouldn’t have had the courage to set foot on a ski slope ever again. I’m so stubborn and if something doesn’t go well the first time, for me it seems counterintuitive to do it again.  I’m so glad that I didn’t let a fall stop me from continuing to learning how to ski. Well, at first I made the overstatement that learning how to ski was harder than learning the violin but I take it back now! After the fall, we sat in the café at the top of the ski resort and laughed about it. I made the decision to try again and not be defeated before actually trying. I’m so glad I did because I went on to have 4 skiing lessons with one of the ski schools and it was an amazing experience and they really restored my self-confidence on the slopes.

By the end I could actually do things like the snowplough, controlling my speed, a few parallel turns.  I felt confident. This was a huge step for me because it’s not often that I take a positive attitude from a negative experience. It also highlighted the fact that I let fear stop me from doing things, achieving things and enjoying things. I didn’t want to continue with this attitude.

If I could fall down a nursery ski slope in front of a huge crowd, I can do anything.

IMG_0001