My Dream Job

“I am doing my dream job and fundamentally it is down to you.”

This is how a former student signed off an email to me this week, having been reminded of the rock band workshops they came to 13 years ago when they were still at school in Cockermouth. Since then, they’ve studied music tech at college and university, and gone on to become a Sound Engineer for the BBC's pop music stations (Radio 1, 1Xtra, Radio 2, 6 Music and Asian Network). It’s amazing and very humbling to get this kind of feedback, but it really drives home how fortunate we are if we can get to do what we love for a living.

Following the old adage of ‘choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,’ my own careers advisor, a wonderful gentleman called Tony Tindall, gave me the only careers advice I’ve needed, or ever given. He told me, “it’s simple – decide what it is you enjoy doing most in the world. Then get someone to pay you to do it.”

Increasingly, we’re lucky if we get to do that, and automation of many jobs is going to reduce the options for future generations to be able to do the thing that they love for a career. So this week, I’m counting my blessings.

The former student had got in touch because they’d just watched Terry Abrahams’ remarkable film about Blencathra (available on the iPlayer ‘til mid-March) which has a cameo appearance from Sing Owt!, the choir I lead in west Cumbria. It’s a great film, and a real privilege to have been involved.

On Wednesday, we also had the first rehearsals for the Blue Light Choir that we’ve set up as a partnership between our Community Music students, the mental health charity MIND, and participants from the NE emergency ‘Blue Light’ services – Police, Fire and Ambulance crews at the sharp end of public safety. It was a powerful session, with enormous amounts of gratitude from those in attendance for an initiative that’s about looking after their wellbeing, giving them the boost they need to be able to do the hard jobs they do which keep us all safe.

I also found out this week that Mouthful’s eagerly-anticipated concert and workshop tour in Brazil in April is definitely on!

So talk about dream jobs! I can’t imagine a better way of being able to put my musical skills to service – it’s weeks like this where I feel confident that music puts an awful lot of good into the world – in the music we create, the friendships we make and sustain, the boost to our spirits, and the fulfilment that a life in music can bring.

It seems fitting that this weekend I’m driving my dad down to a big family celebration of his 90th birthday – I’m doing my dream job, and fundamentally it’s down to him, my mum and my family, as well as people like Tony Tindall who inspired me as a child to pursue the thing that I really enjoyed. Your advice was right on the money – a career in music isn’t without many setbacks and frustrations, but the payoff in human terms has made it all worthwhile.