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My name is Naomi Blundell (previously Le Maistre) and I am a violinist, teaching musician and mother of two based in Exmouth, Devon. My professional role as a Teaching Musician includes:
1) providing one-to-one instrumental tuition for all ages, building individuals’ skills, confidence and enjoyment of music through patient, friendly, tailored tutoring
2) delivering group singing sessions for stroke survivors, people living with dementia, and carers, in community, residential and nursing care settings.
Growing up with music (1979 – 1997)
I was born and raised in Staffordshire, UK, where I attended schools in Tamworth and Lichfield. We had a piano in our hallway for as long as I can remember – which all the family played from time to time! – and I was given violin lessons from the age of six. I was encouraged to pursue this throughout my childhood and teens, eventually achieving my Grade 8 at the the age of seventeen. Music and the people I shared it with were a huge source of support throughout my school career and helped me to forge some of my most important friendships, not to mention that the music department and practice rooms were always a welcoming refuge during cold and rainy breaktimes and lunch hours!
I played with as many ensembles as possible: junior and senior string orchestras, bands for shows such as South Pacific, Showboat, The Boyfriend and Calamity Jane, recorder groups and choirs. Eventually I auditioned and was accepted into the Staffordshire Youth Recorder Ensemble, and later the Staffordshire Youth Orchestra, which gave me some exciting opportunities including a performance trip to Toronto, Canada.
Leaving home and taking a detour (1997 – 2008)
Finishing school in 1997 with exam results that I was proud of, but being quite shy and somewhat lacking the confidence in myself to pursue a career in music at this point in my life, I moved to the South West of England to study History at the University of Exeter – I loved the social history of medieval England, all aspects of medicine throughout history and in particular my specialist subject of the Bubonic Plague! And most importantly I made many lifelong friendships, and met a certain young Maths and Computing student all the way from Cambridge, Andy, who I would eventually marry in 2007.
I returned to the Midlands to study for a Masters in Social Policy at Birmingham University before embarking on what would be a ten-year career in health and social care research, with a particular interest in improving vulnerable groups’ experiences of the services they receive and giving people a voice. This took me to Oxford, London, and Dartington, Devon. I gained a great deal from these years. In particular I developed my ability to communicate with and support people facing challenging circumstances – but somehow I felt that I was not in the right place career-wise.
Returning to music (2008 – present)
Following the births of my two children in 2008 and 2011, my confidence in myself had improved, and, I took the decision to change career and do what I both loved, and felt would give my family the best of me! Music had taken more of a backseat for a while – but now, singing and playing to my babies reminded me why it was special.
I had already taken the important step of joining the fantastic local ensemble, Exeter’s EMG Symphony Orchestra and through this I came across the opportunity to be a part of a brand new group – Exmouth’s newly established Singing for the Brain – as a support singer. I later trained as Singing Leader and the rest snowballed from there as I grew in confidence and developed my skills.
Eight years on, I now lead four regular community singing groups for stroke survivors and people living with dementia, six groups for people with dementia and other special needs living in residential care settings, and I also teach violin, piano and guitar to more than thirty pupils on a one-to-one basis in home and school settings. I continually work hard to provide the best possible experiences and education for the people I am privileged to work with and hope to continue in this wonderfully rewarding role for many years to come.