Is there life after music teaching?
In 2007, I took the big decision to retire from directing a busy school music department in London at the age of 56. After 34 years of full-time classroom teaching, it was a major wrench and took several months to adjust to the new life-style.
How could they possibly manage without me?! Whatever would I do with myself?
A move to a quiet middle-England village, whilst ideal for my composing, only exacerbated the problem – I missed the terrific buzz of working with young people, the highs of concert preparation, conducting choirs and orchestras: I really missed the action!
Ten years on now, and light years away from that world! One door may have closed, but I’ve opened several others. I’d worked hard in teaching – we all do – but in many ways I now put in more hours! It’s just different. I’m writing music most days – no half terms or weekends off for composers. Having catalogued and notated my earlier works onto Sibelius, I set up a website to promote it all - https://www.richardlambertmusic.co.uk/ - and there are now works being performed and published around the world.
I was also able to extend my examining work with London College of Music. http://lcme.uwl.ac.uk/home/ I started examining in 1989, as a foil to my teaching work, mostly in the UK and in holiday time. I’m so pleased that I had this established before ‘retiring’ as it provided both a good overlap and the opportunity to see the world. I’ve visited 22 countries, thoroughly enjoying the contact with people of all cultures, ages and abilities.
Other activities? - I play the organ by deputising for numerous village churches in the area; and weddings are a useful source of income. I am away from home too much to commit to a regular post.
I’m currently organising a fund-raising concert for a nearby village next month. I will be accompanying soprano Claire O’Brien https://www.linkedin.com/in/claire-o-brien-8732a467/?ppe=1 and flautist Rachel Smith http://www.rachelsmithflute.co.uk/ in a programme of ‘Music for a Summer’s Evening’. Three of my works will be performed, including a première for that combination of instruments.
Pipe and slippers?
No chance – a typical day now might comprise editing, proofing or composing; practising for a service or wedding; booking flights and hotels for a forthcoming exam tour; programme building for an organ recital or concert; updating my website and promoting performances, etc. etc.
Oh yes...and I nearly forgot. For the last eighteen months I have been working at a DMus in composition!
So, to any musician out there who’s approaching ‘retirement’, don’t fret – there are always musical activities to pursue: in your own time and at your own pace. Enjoy!