The message garnered after a chat with Forever Young choir member, Pamela Vine, is that in life it is better to follow your interests, not the rules. It seems to have worked extremely well for her.
Where some parents might insist that their child stick to the instrument they have chosen to play and to approach musical training with commitment and discipline, Pamela gave her son the freedom to play whatever instrument he liked. This meant that her son, now Head of Music at Girton Grammar School, had already played the violin, guitar, recorder and trombone by a very early age.
“I was encouraging Steve to become musically literate. I’m not sure if he realises that,” Pamela said.
“I wanted him to discover a love for music that I grew up with and have carried through my whole life,” she said.
Pamela has sung and painted since a very young age and comes from a family bursting with musical and artistic talent.
“I remember my father giving me a harmonica in my cot when he returned from the armed service. He used to play it when he was in the army, serving in Borneo and Papua New Guinea.
“There were five of us kids and we all sang a lot. I used to harmonise with my sister, which is how I learned from a young age to sing harmonies, and this is generally what I do in the Forever Young choir.
“I love painting too and this was also encouraged in my family, with my sister becoming a commercial artist.
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of 2008 and spent two years in very poor health whilst undergoing surgery and treatment. I took photos of the nine nurses who were looking after me during that time and painted each of them.
“After my final treatment in 2010, I handed all of the paintings over to the nurses who were thrilled and now proudly hang their portraits either at home or in the hospital.
“More recently, I’ve also been on a painting trip to Spain with my good friend from the choir, Cheryl Axell,” Pamela said.
Pamela was born in Maldon and did her early schooling there. Her mother was a teacher and her father worked at the CBC Bank so they followed his job to various towns. Pamela feels that people are generally born with a musical or artistic talent that is subsequently nurtured. It’s the only way she can explain her ability to play music by ear and the fact that she taught herself to play the harmonica. Her hero was Larry Adler who could play Rhapsody in Blue on harmonica.
“I started out playing the harmonica in the Forever Young choir because following my ill health I felt I could not catch my breath properly and sustain notes for singing.
“The choir was so supportive and now it has become a tradition that I play the harmonica when we sing our theme song, Forever Young.
“The harmonica healed me really. It allowed me to re-build strength and confidence and get back to singing.
“I feel as though the choir gives me great freedom. I have even taught a small group within the choir to sing harmonies with me,” Pamela said.
When asked about Choir Director, Laura Dusseljee, Pamela says that she relates incredibly well to each and every choir member.
“I think Laura works exceptionally well with this age group. There are a lot of jokes and laughter and she has built the choir up so that it’s half male and half female which is great.
“My husband describes me as a wanna-be back up singer, so I suppose I’m in the right place,” Pamela said.