I love the quiet simplicity that signals the arrival of spring. A flower bud here, a blade of grass there, the warmer, brighter days…. Spring sneaks up on you, unnaounced, without fanfare but with a definiteness that is impossible to ignore.
After tumultous whirlwind that has characterised the last 12 months, it’s time to recharge the batteries, take stock and reposition for the future. April will be the time to sow the seeds and lay teh foundation for the next 12 months.
Many parts of the world are celebrating Mothering Sunday today and Church services will be dedicated to Mothers – both present and departed – for their unwavering selfless love.
Dolly Parton’s song, “Coat of Many Colours” tells of how her mother stitched together a coat for her from pieces of rags because they could not afford to buy one. And how the children at school made fun of this coat that had been so lovingly put together by her mum.
And I reflect on how timeless her message is. How mothers today continue to weave the best life they can for their children from the fragments of time, resources and skills that they have.
This is a universal struggle regardless of socio-economic status, race or background.
And so I want to encourage Mothers who are reading this today not to be discouraged. Your love is the greatest gift you can give your children.
The last verse of Dolly’s song is particularly powerful:
But they didn’t understand it and I tried to make them see That one is only poor only if they choose to be Now I know we had no money but I was rich as I could be In my coat of many colours my mama made for me
Mothers, your patchwork coat, sewn in love is the greatest gift of all.
It’s a well documented fact that better decisions are made when women are in the room where it happens. This is because women bring a unique perspective and are able to find creative solutions to problems faced by organisations. Today I stand with men and women around the world who seek to address gender bias in our organisations.
I am also grateful for the women upon whose shoulders I stand today. My story would not have been possible without your sacrifice and courage.
A couple of days ago, my girls and I had a spontaneous sign-along around the piano. I surreptitiously captured a few seconds on camera so as not to kill the moment.
That moment took me back to our many months of music making when they were babies and toddlers, where they would sit on my lap on the floor, wiggling, clapping and playing percussion instruments in a room full of other, mostly moms, and children of a similar age.
Those sessions were our special “Mummy and Me” times during an otherwise busy and chaotic week, where we bonded over a shared activity.
I love the fact that all these years later, music making continues to be an activity over which we connect.
I love the fact that the piano room is a sanctuary in our home. A place where we go to reflect, relax and relieve tension while tinkling the little white and black keys.
A place where we process, where we cry, where we worship.
Those baby music classes helped to create a culture in our home that makes shared magical moments like this feel totally natural.
I will be sharing my personal and professional experience of how to raise a musical child in a free webinar. Do join me if you can. Sign up for free using the link below. If you make the webinar or you missed it, sign up anyway in order to receive the replay.
Yesterday, 11 February 2021, Papa Jakande passed away, aged 91.
Papa Jakande was the first civilian governor of Lagos State, Nigeria between October 1979 and December 1983. His quiet, diminutive and kindly demeanor belied his steely determination, charisma and vision.
In July 1982, aged 10, I wrote to the governor, bemoaning the state of the roads in Lagos and the rubbish that littered the streets. I suggested ways in which his administration could tackle the issue as I was sure he hadn’t thought about the solutions I proffered.
My mother, Chief Mrs Tinuade Gbadamosi, was working with his administration as a member of one of the Schools Management Boards that he set up and she delivered my letter to him at one of their meetings.
Two months later, the governor wrote me back! His reply was generous and not at all patronising. He took his time over two pages of typed text to give detailed answers to every issue I raised. He concluded the letter with an invitation to pay him a visit. I remember my dad’s surprise and the excitement we all felt about not just his reply but also the invitation to visit. During the visit, the governor presented me with a wine coloured hand bag which I can still see in my mind’s eye today.
The bag eventually wore out and was discarded but I have never forgotten my encounter with him.
I celebrate Papa Jakande because of his commitment to providing free education to the children of Lagos State. He built hundreds of schools in the state during his four year tenure, making it possible for millions of children to get an education. He also took over many private schools, so that the State would cover the cost of education and children could be educated fee-free. I was one of those children.
Many of the Jakande schools have since fallen into disrepair and several returned to private sector operators. However, the impact of his reforms live on in those who because of his vision and passion, were able to access jobs, build careers and impact their communities in ways that would otherwise not have been open to them.
Papa, your sons and daughters salute you. Rest in peace. 🙏🏾
One of the first families who attended my early years music classes in the UK were the Price family.
Mum, Melanie, started coming with Lauren probably one to two years after I first opened a centre in their local area. Lauren happens to share my birthday and is therefore, naturally, my favourite 😁.
It was a pleasure to witness the family grow as Melanie fell pregnant with her subsequent two babies. She would bring them to classes, initially in their car seats, until they were old enough to take part themselves. Occasionally, their father, Jonathan, would attend classes if Melanie wasn’t available.
I remember Melanie being gently supportive of her daughters during the sessions. She modelled the behaviour she wanted them to emulate, actively joining in with the singing and the actions even when, especially as toddlers, the children had other ideas!
For three years from 2006, 2007 and 2008, I was invited to run music workshops for the girls birthday parties.
My favourite was the “Music Around the World” party which was held on the 14th of June 2008, for Lauren’s 5th birthday where we “visited” France, Australia and Hawaii among other nations.
I thoroughly enjoyed playing the didgeridoo, wearing Hawaiian leys and grass skirts and singing a song in a terrible French accent about making pastry.
I recently caught up with Melanie to find out how the girls are doing and this is what she said:
“All three of my girls are still all very involved in music today.”
“Lauren has achieved grade 5 piano and grade 6 singing and is due to take her grade 6 flute next term. She plays in school ensembles as well as in a flute group”.
“Her real passion is singing and she is a member of a local Youth Choir and has been in church and school choirs since primary school”.
“Charlotte is working on her grade 5 piano and has just passed her grade 6 violin. She is a member of our local Youth Symphony Orchestra and also plays in a local ensemble as well as school ensembles”.
“Abigail is working on grade 3 piano and has just passed her grade 4 violin. She is part of an Intermediate orchestra and plays in school ensembles as well as a local music ensemble. Abi also sings in church and school choirs”.
“I definitely credit their early years music and movement classes with giving them a love of music from an early age. They all loved the classes and have always enjoyed listening to and playing music.”
“I have such fond memories of attending the baby music classes.”
I am so thrilled to learn that all three girls have continued to pursue music alongside their other passions – athletics and gymnastics being other areas in which they have excelled over the years.
The gentle, yet dogged commitment of Melanie and Jonathan to supporting the girls’ music education right from infancy has yielded great fruit of which they should be proud. It’s been a honour to play a small part in sparking the girls love for music.
I leave you with this recording of Lauren and members of her youth of choir giving a beautiful, virtual rendition of “Fix You” which I am sure you will agree is absolutely beautiful.
For those of you who despair whether your inattentive toddler will ever settle down long enough in baby music class to learn the finer points of rhythm and pitch, I say NEVER, EVER give up!
You have got to play the long game… Keep the prize in sight. Stay positive, keep engaging, keep persevering. They do eventually click. And the rewards, as I am sure the Price family can testify to, are immeasurable.
In the year 2000, I took my first tentative steps into Music Education when I bought into an Early Year’s Music franchise in the UK.
I thought it would be good to catch up with some of the friends and families I met along the way to see how they are getting on, and find out what role music plays in their lives today, if any.
First stop is Pat Hood. Pat was assigned to be my trainer and mentor when I became a franchisee of an Early Years music company – Jo Jingles.
The relationship was only meant to last for the first few months during which she would offer support and advice on everything from crafting musically sound programmes to giving advice on business matters such as marketing, sales and finance.
However, in true characteristic form, Pat was incredibly generous with her support and remained a friendly ear that I could bend throughout my time in the UK.
Today, Pat is a treasured friend and source of inspiration as she takes her music wherever she goes, touching lives and bringing hope and light.
Even though she is now in “retirement” Pat continues to play an active role in the music scene of her local community and my ambition today remains as it was all those years ago – to be like Pat when I grow up.