‘PERIPATETIC FOCUS’

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The Abbey Music department is very fortunate to be supported by a vastly experienced team of peripatetic teachers.
In this feature, we get to know one of them a little better:

Name:Florence Petit-Sibley
What instrument(s) do you teach?Cello and piano
When did you discover your love
of music?
Music has always been part of my life as my parents and siblings played music to varying levels. It was natural that I fell into it. I knew I wanted to become a professional musician when I was a teenager: the more I played music the more I wanted to do it!
What advice would you give to young musicians?Work hard but smartly, and take care of your physical and mental health, just like sportsmen and women do. Even more importantly, remind yourself of why you love it!
What is your favourite piece of music and why?I do not really have a favourite piece of music as there are so many different styles! At the moment, I am discovering rarely heard and performed cello pieces from the 18th and 19th centuries such as a cello concerto by Johann Hasse, and cello sonatas by Bononcini. Check them out! 
What is your funniest musical moment?I participated in an outreach project at the Wigmore Hall called Chamber Tots. We were about to have a session with toddlers. One of my colleagues played the theorbo – a very long necked type of guitar from the 17th century. Before the children came in, my colleague hid in a cupboard. We presented our different instruments until there was only his instrument left to show. “Shall we open the cupboard to find out what the last instrument is?””Yes!” screamed the group.We opened the cupboard and he came out very, very slowly, with the end of the instrument first. Children were making impressed noises as it got longer and longer. He finally emerged fully from the cupboard after much laughter from everyone! (have a look at a picture of the theorbo!)
What is your most memorable musical moment?My husband, who plays classical guitar, and I played regularly in care homes, hospitals and hospices. One day, we played at a London hospital and went from ward to ward for everyone to enjoy. One very elderly and frail lady had a room on her own. She did not move. Her daughter did not wish to have music in her room but the person who had hired us persuaded her to let us play. We started playing The Swan by Camille Saint-Saëns, a slow and lyrical piece. To everyone’s astonishment, this lady, who didn’t seem to notice anything around her up to that point, started moving. She raised her head, and started waving her arms gracefully, her hands making shapes and her eyes animated by passion. It was beautiful. She had been a ballet dancer in the 1940s at Sadler’s Wells in London, working to the highest level. Never underestimate who you meet and the power of music!
If you could meet any composer from any point in time, who would it be and why?All the composers who were eccentric and did not conform to the image of the time, like Mozart! 
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