I was reflecting recently on just how long I had been playing music in church and it struck me that, as the years have passed, I have probably clocked up 45 years in one capacity or another.
I started playing the guitar with a group of friends at Corpus Christi when I was about 13 and then progressed to playing in the St. Theresa's folk group, "New Wine". It's funny how some choices you make have the most unexpected consequences as it was playing in the church Folk group which led me to my husband Nigel. We would meetin the Manston after rehearsals and after a period of just saving seats we eventually became a couple and will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary this year.
My music has always been important to me and I can't resist trying out new instruments. When I was about 19 I decided I wanted to learn the keyboard and set off with my dad to the local music shop on Easterly road where I thought I would just walk out with a small keyboard to tinkle on in my bedroom. I think the TV programme "Fame" was my inspiration!! However, when we got into the shop I was really taken by the possibilities of learning something much grander, and although I could only read music and had never had a piano lesson in my life I somehow walked out of the shop having bought what could only be described as a piece of furniture. I said to my dad, "What is my mum going to say having this in her front room?" He just said, as only he could,
"Don't worry Christine, I'll sort it with your mum, as long as you learn to play me some nice tunes we can sing along to." He was good to his word and both of us were playing and singing along to tunes up to the day he passed away in 2016.
My love of playing a few tunes at home led me to start to play for a few church services. I started playing for the Women's Guild masses and then progressed to the occasional Saturday evening mass and then First Communion masses and finally my regular slot at 10.15 every Sunday. I didn't sing much at first. I was far too shy but then the late Monsignor Holroyd agreed to buy the keyboard and PA system at the back of church and I suddenly found I had a voice too.
I played for my first wedding when my brother was married 35 years ago and as he is still speaking to me I think it must have gone well. I then started playing for a few other friends, the most frightening being my very close friend who was getting married at Corpus Christi. The organist for some reason let them down at the last minute and I found myself playing that magnificent organ for the very first time.
Since then I have played for several weddings and sadly a number of funerals, mainly family and close friends. It's amazing just how much strength you can find when playing music. Sometimes I really do feel that God or maybe my own Guardian Angel is watching over me when I play.
So why am I telling you all this? Well, I have reached a point in my life where I have made a huge decision to retire from my full time job after 38 years service and take a more leisurely approach to life. Music in church has played such an important part in my life and I hope it will continue to do so as I launch my new career as a solo musician, offering a personalised wedding and funeral service to bring "music from my heart" to others, whether at times of great sadness or joy.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my story and will think of me and pray for me as I start this new journey. Have a wonderful Easter season.
Christine Street (CSMusic from the heart)