I must have been about 10 when I met Johnny Pearson. If you have not heard his name, you will certainly have heard his music. The composer of theme tunes for television programmes such as All Creatures Great and Small, Superstars, Captain Pugwash and ITV's News at Ten, his music has touched millions.
I had barely started on my journey into music when he gave up his time to meet me at his home and listen to my faltering piano, after being sweetly badgered by my great aunt (his neighbour). I was staggered when he played a Bach invention from memory and talked to me about the importance of practice. I have never forgotten that private performance and have reflected on it often.
Johnny was just one of many people who have inspired me on my musical journey. Most have not been famous, but all were dedicated, believed in the power of music and were willing to help me learn. All of them have been part of the jigsaw that helped me become a music teacher.
Now, as I try to play a part in my own pupils' musical journeys, I use the work and compositions of some of the wonderful men and women - including Johnny Pearson - who so inspired me.
One of Johnny's most haunting themes is Sleepy Shores (the theme to Owen MD) and it is a great piece to use as a model in composition teaching. The simple piano texture demonstrates the effective use of sequence, modulation, ornaments like the appoggiatura and structure, along with harmony, particularly in the coda. Asking pupils to consider how the melody works by examining its contour and use of carefully chosen intervals and conjunct movement can be a good place to start.
For more on the musical journeys of famous performers, teachers, researchers and students, see Musical Pathways, the latest publication from the National Association of Music Educators, which includes thoughtful starting points for music teaching (http:bit.lyyP4XfK).
I was saddened to hear of the death of Johnny Pearson last year. I never met him again and I was never able to tell him the inspiration he had been. I will always be grateful for the musical window he opened for me.
Anthony Anderson is subject leader for music and an advanced skills teacher at Beauchamp College, Leicestershire
Watch Johnny Pearson performing Sleepy Shores on Top of the Pops in a YouTube video.
Introduce students to some of the great composers of the big screen with zoeage's PowerPoint presentation.
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