Once upon a time (in about 2011 or so...) there was a lady conductor, called Susie, and a lady composer, called Katrina, who were the very best of friends.
Susie and Katrina were dreamers – they had both lived half of their lives already and had come to realise that, although they’d been trained as musicians to believe otherwise, there were actually more important things than getting your F# perfectly in tune. Katrina and Susie loved being musicians. Playing music with their friends made them glow with happiness and this was their quick-fix, instant solution to all of life’s problems.
These lucky musicians lived in a place far, far away from the city. It was a beautiful corner of the world, with high rugged cliffs, long sandy beaches, sparkling rivers, friendly folk and lots of weather. Katrina and Susie loved their corner of the world and they had so much fun living there. They thought theirs was the friendliest community on the planet, and they wanted to stay there for ever and ever.
There was just one thing missing. Katrina and Susie realised that some of their friends and neighbours didn’t have access to the musical magic which, day in, day out, made them both feel so happy and healthy. Lots of adults and children lived in the community but only a few had learned to play a musical instrument or joined a choir. Susie and Katrina realised that most of the people they saw in the street had never had the chance to learn to read music or play in an orchestra or a band and, if nothing changed, most of them never would. How sad.
In a FLASH of inspiration, the two musicians resolved that they would do something about this. They decided to give everyone the opportunity to join in with the music making, so that their whole community would be even happier and even healthier.
They would need lots of musical instruments. They would need to spend hours teaching people how to read music and how to play. They would need to find musical friends who could become tutors, too. They would need a rehearsal hall. They would need sheet music - ideally graded to suit every musician at every stage. They would need some money…
As everyone knows, although musicians are happy folk, they are notoriously poor at having money. Katrina and Susie looked around to see who in their community was good at having money. They quickly realised that there was a world-wide economic downturn happening. Hardly anyone had enough money, not even all the Governments of all the Lands of all the World, and that was making the people feel even more worried and stressed and sad. Watching the TV news every day, it all seemed, to be frank, a bit hopeless.
But Katrina and Susie were not deterred. In fact they were spurred on because they knew that, if everyone in the world was given the opportunity to sing or play the flute or the violin (or even the tuba…) then that would save the Governments the need for ever such a lot of money. Imagine how happy and well everyone would feel when they were playing music together and how much that would save on healthcare! Imagine how much fun everyone across the world would be having together as musical friends, all reading the international language of mysterious musical dots and literally playing off the same song sheet… there would be no need and simply no time for wars or weapons - that would surely save the Governments a fortune!
They imagined a choir in every workplace, nursery, school, hospital and nursing home. They imagined a full symphony orchestra in every community. (I did tell you they were dreamers…) They imagined a musical Happily Ever After for the whole wide world.
“Hmmmm,” they wondered, “how can two ordinary musicians possibly make this happen with no money and no resources?”
It was a tricky puzzle.
Katrina remembered having once visited a wise man called William, who had made a heavenly Arts Centre in his very own house. Jazz musicians, actors and artists from all over the world came to play in William’s house, and audiences flocked, because they loved William and they loved what he had done. She wracked her brains and remembered William's wise words: "You will learn, Katrina, that you can't change the whole world. You can only change your small corner. That's what I have done. That’s what everyone should do."
It was a starting place. Susie and Katrina spent the long winter nights in front of their cosy fire, planning and plotting how to make things better in their own corner of the world. They came up with a name for their Musical Social Enterprise: “caithnessmusic.com” They even had a mission (like Captain Kirk had for the starship Enterprise, only different…) “to promote health and well-being through group music making.” They knew what they wanted to do and they knew how they planned to do it… they rolled their sleeves up in readiness. It would be a lot of work, but it would be worth it because it would give every member of their community the opportunity to join in with their musical Happily Ever After.
The happy and healthy Far North Youth Orchestra making dreams come true in April 2014. :)
p.s. This very moment is the new "Ever After"...
So, that was in 2011/12. Lots of people who have read this page have asked us "What happened next?! Whatever became of Susie and Katrina and their dream to develop opportunities for happy, healthy music making in their beautiful remote corner of Scotland?"
Well, we hope the other pages of this website will tell you that merry tale: Happily Ever After has become the new now in Caithness. :)
Maestro Susie now regularly directs three choirs and four orchestras, for all ages and abilities. The lucky pair of musicians run two after school recorder clubs, open to all. The junior brass band is thriving, the handbell ringers continue to ding-a-dong-ding and the Caithness Big Band & Sunday Night Band provide Katrina and Susie with night after night of musical fun and friendship.
If you'd like to join in the fun here in Caithness, we'd love to meet you - get in touch!
Or if you'd like to create your own musical "Happily Ever After" for your own beautiful corner of the world, please just get in touch and we'll be happy to help you by sharing our resources and expertise and, more importantly, by encouraging you to believe in your dreams.
Then we can all live, Happily Ever After!
Susie in 2014, inhabiting a new world where the conductor plays frisbee with the percussionist during orchestral breaks. :) Life as it should be...