I’ve had a vision for such a long time now and, bit-by-bit I’ve been putting it all together. Consumed by an overwhelming passion to introduce young children to the world of music making I’ve had an extraordinary journey so far.
It started with my middle child having a fairly spectacular collapse aged 8 months old. It turned out to be anaphylaxis to egg and peanut (which, by the way she has grown out of now) but it resulted in me ditching my job at Kings College Hospital and finding a night post here locally on SCBU. It was the worst year of my life simply because I just can’t do without my sleep and so I applied for and got a sisters post on the paediatric ward (Jacoby – Pembury Hospital). Have to say though that I missed the buzz of the London teaching hospitals and coupled with the imminent arrival of number 3 I started to look at a change of career.
I stumbled upon a Jo Jingles franchise -and to cut a 14 year long story short, I bought it, loved it, grew it and along the way discovered there was a huge lack of good, exciting family concerts for kids. We were learning about the story of Peter and the Wolf and I thought it’d be nice for the kids to see and hear the music up close and live. So, I teamed up with Tonbridge Philharmonic and we produced Peter and the Wolf in 2004. It was spectacularly successful and we ended up opening the dress rehearsal to accommodate everyone. We raised loads of money for SANDS and it was abundantly clear that there was a demand for quality fun concerts for families. However, we weren’t so popular with the musicians who were appalled at the informality and didn’t agree with the kids wandering about. (We now use young, hip and trendy musicians who don’t give a damn!)
It was another 5 years before we actually launched Kidenza (the name was thought up by the wonderful double bassist Paul Kimber) and our first concert was the Carnival of the Animals.
Several concerts later I decided I could no longer run Jo Jingles (JJ), be a good mum to 3 teenagers, teach the piano and music at St Matthews so I decided to sell Jo Jingles and concentrate on building Kidenza. It has to be one of the biggest decisions of my life and I shall be ever grateful to Pip and the kids for supporting me every inch of the way.
Now here’s the really extraordinary bit; after our last Christmas concert I received an email from a lady called Jo. I knew her from JJ but I didn’t realise she had a ‘day job’. Completely sold on what Kidenza was trying to achieve she offered me some pro bono work which of course I accepted. Then came a similar story with a lady called Kate and then another one with a lady called Louise.
I now have a team who have helped me get Kidenza to where it is today: about to launch as a CIC (community interest company) we are putting the finishing touches to the business plan and have pretty much finished appointing the board of trustees. We shall be a not-for-profit organization, re-investing back into the business to be self-sufficient and on a mission to change the way young children have access to music. I’m yet to meet anyone who tells me I’m mad for wanting to do what I do. That’s got to be a good thing.
I often have these weird moments when I’m kind of out of my body looking down at myself and I’m thinking “Who do you think you are? You’re just a regular person – ok you’re passionate about music and kids but what makes you think you can change things?”
Well – I don’t know – most of the time it’s really scary but every now and again I have such a vision that I just can’t ignore it.
Normally, I’d send this to a few people for editing. Not confidant that I should write from the heart. But, do you know what? Today I’m just going to click ‘send’ because this is me and I am Kidenza.