Magazine article Musical Opinion

Alison Balsom

Magazine article Musical Opinion

Alison Balsom

Article excerpt

Champions the Trumpet to Judith Monk

Alison Balsom is now widely acknowledged as being the musician who brought the Trumpet to prominence as the solo instrument for girls. Chatting to her on a wet windy Thursday was a rewarding experience; she's easy to talk to, very pretty and makes a dull day sparkle.

Alison told me that at her Primary School in her home town of Royston the pupils were encouraged to choose any instrument they wanted to learn to play. Having had the chance to try a cornet at her uncle's house it seemed natural to then pick up a trumpet. She was too young to realise that it was then considered more of a boy's choice! The teacher there was called Bill Thompson and from a class of 8 or 9 youngsters no fewer than 5 of them went on to become professional musicians. He was truly inspirational!

At 13 Alison went to the Junior Guildhall which is a specialist Saturday School offering advanced training to young people between the ages of 4 and 18. The students there are able to combine their Guildhall training with their general education in local schools. At Junior Guildhall Alison studied under eminent trumpeter John Miller before joining the Guildhall proper, then off to the Paris Conservatoire where she says she was "thrown in at the deep end as far as learning French was concerned, as the classes were in groups and lasted 6 hours at a stretch with only a 10 minute break in between."

Alison finished her studies under phenomenal trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger. She told me that although her studying has ended she still consults with Hardenberger from time to time to bounce ideas. We agreed that the best teachers make themselves redundant.

"What benefit did you derive from being part of YCAT?" I asked. "YCAT was immensely valuable to me as there was no tradition in this country for female trumpet soloists. They acted as a buffer between the end of studying and the launch of a formal professional career. …

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