Jo Miller's Story


Story submitted, August 2012.


Some background information

  1. So that I can compare responses between countries and across generations, please give me the following background information on when and where you went to school.

    Your nationality:

    - Scottish -

    The country in which you went to school:

    - Scotland -

    Your age:

    - 49 -

    The year in which you left school:

    - 1979 -

  2. I also need some information on your formal music education (if you had one), so please give details below of any lessons or qualifications in music that you have taken.  You will have chance to expand on these answers later, so brief details are fine at this stage.

    Years of classroom music in school (e.g. aged 5-14):

    - aged 5-17 -

    School exams in music (e.g. O Level, GCSE):

    - Higher Music -

    Instrumental / vocal lessons (e.g. piano from aged 9 to 15):

    - Violin lessons age 9-18. -

    Instrumental / vocal exams (e.g. Grade 5 trumpet aged 14):

    - Grade 7 violin age 17. -

    Music at college / university (e.g. music degree at York):

    - BA (Music Education) RSAMD Glasgow, BMus Glasgow University, MLitt in Scottish Studies and Ethnology, Edinburgh University. -

    Other musical study (give details):

    - Some lessons in fiddle playing, attendance at summer schools and workshops. -

  3. Please give a brief description of your current involvement in music:

    - Postgrad student at Sheffield leader of intergenerational community music project in Stirling tutor of community music groups performer at events (singer and fiddler) mentoring of other music tutors. -

  4. Please tell me where you heard about this research project:

    - Dr Pitts, supervisor at Sheffield University. -

Thank you for those details.  The rest of the questionnaire is more open-ended: there are five prompts about home background, school experiences, influential people, highlights and regrets, and you can use those to tell your story in whatever way makes sense to you.

Please answer in as much detail as you feel able to, focusing on those questions which are most relevant to you, and giving specific memories and examples whenever you can.



Life history prompts

  1. What kind of music was going on in your home as a child? How influential do you think this was in your development?

    - My mother played the piano and this would feature in our childhood games - e.g: playing for Musical Bumps etc at parties and (a particular memory)Ketelby's 'In a Persian Market' for dressing up and acting out with my two sisters. -

    - My father was an Anglican cleric and so we were exposed to church music from the start. I joined the church choir at 7 or 8 and continued singing through junior school and secondary school choirs. -

    - Equally inflential was the stack of sheet music in the piano stool featuring 'songs from the shows' - Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Ivor Novello, Noel Coward and the like - and some light operetta, including Gilbert & Sullivan. Together with the diet of Bing Crosby/Bob Hope and Fred Astaire films on television, these contributed in no small measure to my enthusiasm for musical theatre in its many forms. -

    - All three children were sent for piano lessons; my elder sister took up the oboe and my younger sister the flute, so there were occasions on which we played together as a trio, but more often it was piano duets with my elder sister - Brahms Hungarian Dances and Schubert Marche Militaire stick in the memory. -

    - My mother's father used to sing around the house, snatches from popular songs from variety and music hall. So in all I was exposed more to light music as something to be performed and enjoyed together, rather than listening to performances of classical repertoire. -

    - Later I worked with my mother on various pastiches of G&S for 'parish entertainments' (before the Two Ronnies made it a stock part of their show); this probably provided the impetus for my writing (in late teens, early twenties) musicals satirising village life, as well as cabaret material. -

  2. What are your memories of school music? (These might include people, activities, opportunities…)

    - Lots of class singing, school shows, inspirational teacher for last two years of school and enthusiastic classmates with whom I perfomed Gilbert & Sullivan shows and sang in choirs. I was one of the few in school until age 15 who played an instrument 'seriously' was taught guitar by the art teacher. -

  3. Who has been influential on your musical behaviour at various stages of your life?

    - Mother (see above) and grandfather (pianist) guitar teacher, who had a lot of good songs local audiences, who encouraged all young musicians friends with whom I sang and played guitar school music teacher mentioned above fellow students and teachers at music college postgrad supervisor at Edin University who has remained a mentor ever since performers from whom I have learned, at gigs, through recordings, or workshops members of bands and groups I've played with my husband and children, all of whom are musicians my pupils. -

  4. What have been the highlights of your musical life history so far?

    - A rich performing life as a young person in my rural community in SW Scotland taking part in orchestral and other performances at college singing unaccompanied performing with my family leading music with the groups I teach. -

  5. Do you have any regrets about missed opportunities in music?

    - Would like to have done a PhD sooner! Would like to have made more music in the last 20 years. -

  6. Please add any final comments below on the process of telling your musical life history, or any other details that you feel you've missed out of your account so far.

    - Probably worth noting that music has played a big part in my intellectual as well as emotional life, and that it's been the been my main source of income for all my adult years. -