In the Beginning

I started playing the fiddle when I was seven or eight years of age. My parents decided to send me to a music teacher for formal lessons rather than wait to see if I had either the skill or desire to pick it up on my own. This strategy seemed to work pretty well, because by the time I felt that I really wanted to play, when I was 12 or 13, I had already developed some very helpful basic skills which I could use.

My music teacher was Jessie Christopherson (no relation to Kris!) Jessie lived within walking distance of our house in S.E. London. To my eight year old mind she seemed very old (she was probably in her early sixties), very posh and very intimidating. And her house was like that too – old, posh and intimidating! It was much bigger than ours and very dark – going there for lessons was a bit like visiting Miss Havisham in “Great Expectations”! But she turned out to be a great teacher. Her manner was pretty strict and harsh (I can still remember her shrieking instructions at me – “Up bow!”, “Sharper!” and so on.) but I soon learned that she was a kindly old woman behind it all and, more importantly, that she was very broadminded about music. Up to then I was of the impression that classical people didn’t approve of any other kind of music so I was very impressed to discover that she enjoyed all kinds of things, even some of the new groups of the time such as The Who and The Rolling Stones.