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Old 26-04-2010, 05:51 AM   #1
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Muse Teachers

From an article on The Guardian website interviewing schoolteachers who have taught famous musicians.


'Muse? I knew them when they were called Gothic Plague'

Name Jill Bird

Job Music teacher, formerly of Teignmouth community college, Devon

Pupils, 1990-1994 Matt Bellamy, Dom Howard, Chris Wolstenholme, of Muse

When I started at Teignmouth in the summer of 1990, Matt and Dom had been there six months. I remember hearing Matt playing guitar at an end-of-term concert, and thinking: "Bloody hell, he's only 12!" He played like a grown-up. By year nine, Chris had joined Matt and Dom in their band. At one point they were called Gothic Plague. Other kids would be having a laugh with their guitars, but they were so committed, so determined, so ready.

We had no money in the school, either. It was awful, really: one bass guitar working if we were lucky, a shoebox cassette player, a crappy drumkit, no decent rooms. But they didn't care. They'd just say: "Miss, can we rehearse, can we rehearse?" Luckily, the music department was in an old building 200 metres from the main school, so they could make as much noise as they wanted. That was one of those strange quirks of fate that changed things for them.

Matt and Dom were in an incredibly creative class. They all fed off each other. You only get that kind of thing once or twice in a lifetime. With a normal class, if I'd put something on that wasn't heavy metal, they'd moan. With them, I'd put on Chopin or Steve Reich, and they'd get into it. There was a classical oboist in the class, too; it all made for a really receptive atmosphere. I hear that openness in Muse's music still. I often think how different things could have been if they'd come along in a different year. The fact they had to go all the way to Exeter to see gigs was important, too: there was nothing on locally, so they had to make their own entertainment.

The boys were never satisfied with their compositions, though. Most kids at 14 or 15 get them in and think: "Thank God for that." Not with them; they always wanted to keep improving them, Chris particularly. What he was doing with his bass 16 years ago was genuinely pushing boundaries. I'd give him top marks and say: "Chris, this is already brilliant. I can't give you a better mark." He'd be: "But it's not right." To have such drive at that age was extraordinary.

I saved up for a multitrack tape recorder. It was for the school but really it was for them, because I knew the equipment we had was limiting. I know I shouldn't have, but I let them take it home at weekends, too. I didn't know how it worked either, so we were learning together. That encouragement is so important for young people, and I still see that now at the Saturday Music School in Totnes where I work. It gives them such joy, something to strive for.

To see the boys become a huge band was really moving, especially when they came back for their homecoming gig in Teignmouth last autumn. I was one of the first people to buy tickets, but the boys got in touch, and said they had put some aside for me. In the town that night, I saw loads of kids I'd taught but hadn't seen for 10 years. They were saying: "Isn't it great, Miss, isn't it great?" It was and it still is.
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Old 26-04-2010, 05:56 AM   #2
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That was really interesting, thank you for posting
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Old 26-04-2010, 06:05 AM   #3
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That's lovely
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Old 26-04-2010, 06:05 AM   #4
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Aww. I liked that.
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Old 26-04-2010, 06:05 AM   #5
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Stubborn Chris!

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Old 26-04-2010, 06:06 AM   #6
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Thanks for the great post!


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Old 26-04-2010, 06:14 AM   #7
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aww thanks for posting!
What did Chopin say when he met Matt Bellamy?
You stole my overture.
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Old 26-04-2010, 06:15 AM   #8
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Such a nice and lovely article
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Old 26-04-2010, 08:53 AM   #9
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Aww, that's lovely
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Old 26-04-2010, 10:07 AM   #10
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Very, very interesting. The bit about Alex Turner as well.
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Old 26-04-2010, 10:46 AM   #11
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sh sounds like such a wonderful teacher,and such a sweet woman
theres just too few people like that in the world
I came for the music -and I stayed for the music
Now I won't settle for less...

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Old 26-04-2010, 12:11 PM   #12
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nice article, thanks for posting!
i remember muse mentioned about this teacher in one of their interviews that she was the only teacher that encouraged them to practice their music.
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Old 26-04-2010, 12:15 PM   #13
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i can't say anything except awww lovely.
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Old 26-04-2010, 12:47 PM   #14
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nice Miss Bird

Last edited by JoanaBliss; 26-04-2010 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 26-04-2010, 12:50 PM   #15
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Thanks for posting, I wish there was more...
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cool teachers , gothic plague

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