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?

Pre-concert school choir rehearsal on a Vienna tour

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!

Beautiful; but was it too quiet?

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 - - and there are now works being performed and published around the world.

Preparing a recent première of my Toccata with Dr Jung-A-Lee in Newport Beach, CA. https://www.richardlambertmusi...

I was also able to extend my examining work with London College of Music. 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.

Giving a workshop at Markham College, Lima, Peru on an LCM examining tour.

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 and flautist Rachel Smith 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.

Feeling rather cagey at a recent organ recital in my local church!

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!