This week’s news is very important. Unlike other weeks I prepared this talk beforehand. What you read below is the exact talk I gave to the school (or rather, meant to give it—I was not feeling very well today!). Here are a couple of points you should know before you start:

  • There is no video of the music I played when the children came into assembly today. I will make one as soon as I get a video camera sorted out.
  • I gave this talk to a Christian school. Therefore I mention God a couple of times in this talk. If you are not a Christian, please do not be put off by this. The message in my talk is simply that making music involves trust, co-operation, forgiveness, respect… in short, loving relationships. Whether you believe in God, or not, I’m sure you will agree that things like trust, co-operation, forgiveness and respect are things we should all aim for in our lives.
  • As I explain in the box at the end, this is my last talk for the school.
  • So far this term we’ve had music from the three very great composers, Bach, Mozart and Betthoven. This week I’ve chosen a completely unknown composer—Rachel Mattocks. I’ve chosen this composer to explain more about why live music is so much better than a CD.

    If you remember last week, I said there were 5 reasons why live music is better than a CD. I talked about 4 of them then:

    1. The sound is so much better!
    2. You get to see the music being made!
    3. The music can be played to suit the room and the people listening to it!
    4. It’s special because the music is gone as soon as it’s finished. The music is just for the people listening to it.

    So what’s the last reason? Actually, I lied. There are 6 reasons. And I’ve chosen today’s music to illustrate that. For today’s music is by my sister. She wrote this music out for me last time I saw her in New Zealand. There is no other copy. And, apart from family and friends of my sister, you are the very first people in the whole world to hear this music.

    So, here’s the second to last reason:

    1. You can hear music that you can’t get on CD!

    There’s a lot of music around that’s not on CD. You can only hear this music if someone plays it to you.

    But that’s just the reason I forgot about last time. So what’s the last reason? What’s the really big reason why live music is so much better than a CD? Are you ready? The answer is:


    Music is all about relationships. Music is not just about nice sounds. It’s about relationships! And not just any old relationships—but relationships built on trust, self-sacrifice… in short, relationships built on love, just like God wants for us. When you see a group of musicians performing music, you are seeing a glimpse of how God wants us to be—you could even say it is a glimpse of heaven on earth.

    You probably don’t know what on earth I’m talking about, so I’ve brought two musicians along to help me explain this. Their names are Sooty and Sweep [these are two hand-puppets that I put on at this point]. Imagine Sooty and Sweep want to make some music together. What would they have to do?

    ‘Let’s make some music,’ says Sooty.

    ‘What do you want to play?’ asks Sweep.

    ‘I want to play ‘If I were a butterfly’,’ replies Sooty.

    ‘But I want to play ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’,’ Sweep says back.

    ‘OK. Let’s play that, then. But I want to play the piano while you sing,’ says Sooty.

    ‘Alright then. I really wanted to play the piano. But I suppose you can since I chose the song,’ says Sweep.

    You see! They have to talk to each other. They have to come to an agreement. In order to make music, both of them have to put their own wishes aside. They have to realise that their own wishes are less important than making music together. They have to decide that creating a beautiful sound is less important than what they want as individuals.

    And when it comes to actually playing the music, their relationship has to go even deeper. When you’re making music for an audience, there’s no time to stop and sort things out. You have to work together in the spirit of love.

    For example, Sooty and Sweep have to trust each other. Imagine what would happen if they had made the decision to play ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’, but when it came to making the music, Sooty decided to play ‘If I were a butterfly’ anyway. It wouldn’t sound very good would it?

    And then there’s forgiveness. If Sooty makes a mistake on the piano, Sweep has to ignore it, forgive it, and carry on singing. To make good music, Sooty and Sweep have to stop thinking about themselves, and concentrate on the common goal of making something beautiful together.

    There is nothing quite like music for bringing people together in this way. It is a way that God intends us to be all the time. And, by the way, this is why there is always music in churches. It brings people together in love in God’s house.

    So—you cannot make music without relationships—loving relationships. What about a musician on their own, like me coming into this school to play for you? Where are the relationships there?

    Well, there’re all sorts of relationships going on. I talk with the caretaker because he gets the piano out. I talk with the headteacher about what you’re doing for assembly. I talk with your teachers about the hymn for the week. And I talk to you too. Not only that, but some of you talk to me and tell me how much you like the music.

    But that’s not all! There’s even a relationship when I’m playing for you. I trust you to come in and listen to what I’m playing. You trust me (I hope) to play something. And I keep an eye on what you’re up to and change my playing to suit.

    I also bring all sorts of relationships to the music itself. I chose my sister’s music today to make that as clear as possible. In this case the music was prepared for me. She wrote it for me. It is a product of the love between my sister and myself. When you hear that music, you are hearing that love.

    Relationship, relationship, relationship. Music is all about relationships. And you can only get that from a live performance. Some people think a CD is just as good as a live performance. And some people would even put on a CD on when there is a musician available to play music. Well these people don’t really understand what music is all about. For they are saying that pushing a button is as good as relating to a person. They are saying that they can’t be bothered to work at relationships.

    I don’t think that’s what God wants in this world at all.

    Now, if this were a normal week, I would stop there. I’ve given you more than enough to think about. But this is not a normal week. Having just talked about the special relationship I have formed with you by playing at assemblies, I’ve got some bad news.

    This relationship comes to an end today. Unfortunately it has been decided that what I do doesn’t fit into assemblies any more. So this is my last week here. There will be no more music from me at assemblies. I am very sad about this, but there’s nothing I can do. I had lots more wonderful music lined up for you.

    But all is not lost. I may be coming into your classrooms from time to time, although I’m not sure about this yet. More importantly, though, I have prepared something very special for you. I’ve made a website about the music I’ve done at assemblies over the last three years! This website has all my talks from this year and the last two I gave last year. There’s been a lot to think about in these talks, and they’ve been very important ones. They tell you all about what’s involved in making music and why music so very important. And because they’re so important, I think you should have the chance to read them as well.

    But my website also has much more than this. It has loads information about composers, types of music, and lots of videos for you to watch of people performing music. It even has a joke page!

    Hopefully you will be getting some information about my website this week so you can have a look at it for yourself.

    So that’s it. My talks at assembly are over.

    Finally, though, I thought about what to play for you as you went out today. And I came up with a song called We’ll Meet Again (the main line is ‘We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when’). This isn’t written by my sister. Instead it’s a very famous song from World War Two. I think it’s appropriate for now. The words suit what I’ve just said to you about relationships and about me leaving. But also, it expresses what I want to say to you as you walk out of assembly today. The song sounds happy, but at the same time it is actually a very sad song. I think that summarises what I want to say. I want to say something happy to you, but at the same time I am very sad.

    So, We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when…

    Here is a video of the song sung by Hayley Westenra:

    ‘We’ll Meet Again’ sung by Hayley Westenra (Dame Vera Lynn also appears)

    A Comment That’s Not Part of the Talk

    I was told that today was my last day at assembly only eleven days ago. This decision was completely unexpected and I am very sad about it :-(. These news articles were going to be about my talks at school each week. However I will have to think of something else to write about now. Perhaps I will write about some of the many talks I have already given at my daughters’ school over the last two or three years. That should give me plenty to say!

    Watch this space!!

    Video credits:
    1. We’ll Meet Again – Hayley Westenra – Vera Lynn – Fron Male Voice Choir (High Definition). HAYLEY WESTENRA INTERNATIONAL video – See more at There is more information about this one on the video’s YouTube page.