When Guy Dinwiddy decided to release an album of songs based on his life as a teacher, he did not approach a record company. He turned instead to two enterprising students at his school.
Will Stenhouse and Jonah Lovell, both A-level students at Hockerill Anglo-European College in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, had already set up their own small record label, Leapfrog Records. And they were keen to distribute Dinwiddy's album, Haircut and Shave, through iTunes and Spotify.
"I was looking for a suitable record company to help with my online sales and I heard the boys had set up their own label," says Dinwiddy, a 31-year-old graphic design teacher. "It's a perfect match and hopefully an opportunity for them to develop their business."
He had already completed one album, but it had taken him four years in between planning and teaching; Haircut and Shave was written and released within a year. Its official launch took place at the school's Christmas market last December, followed by a gig in Cambridge before its release on iTunes.
Influenced by Jethro Tull, the Rolling Stones and James Taylor, Dinwiddy describes his musical style as "folk rock". He usually plays acoustic guitar but on one track switches to the ukulele.
The album's title sounds more like the name of a barber's shop than a creative work, but Dinwiddy says it was chosen because the songs have been influenced by his life and locations in Bishop's Stortford. There is even a nod to the local chip shop - popular with students - in the song Chip Shop Blues.
Mona is based on a scuba diving trip to Egypt with the school. Another song references Dinwiddy's great uncle, and yet another centres around anecdotes told by a relative who played cricket for Kent in the 1930s against Sir Don Bradman and Sir Jack Hobbs.
"I am very pleased with the album and I really hope people will like it," Dinwiddy says. "All the tracks are original compositions, with the exception of one reworked traditional song."
With the help of his students, Dinwiddy's musical career is slowly beginning to flourish. But he has no plans to leave the classroom. "I absolutely love teaching and even if the album took off, I wouldn't ever give it up," he says. "But it would be great if the album sold a few copies and enabled me to play a few more gigs."
Meanwhile, he is equally content to nurture the fledgling entrepreneurial careers of students such as Will and Jonah, supporting their dreams and his own.
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