Mae Edwards: a mentor’s journey

Music has always been a huge part of my life. I started violin at 11 and had lessons at school (it got me out of science!), and the lessons were free as I fitted the criteria.

I applied to AYM’s Awards programme to help with the costs of a new violin when I got into the Purcell School. I was using a £150 instrument and I honestly can’t believe I managed to get into Purcell playing it! It was holding me back, so I researched AYM, applied, and was successful. Now I have a great instrument, which was a huge step for me, the first step in becoming better.

Later, after I got into Birmingham Conservatoire, I got an email from AYM about their Talent to Talent programme. After reading more about it I thought ‘that’s got my name all over it!’ It was a fantastic opportunity to work with other young musicians around the country and also learn about the process of mentoring.

The programme made such a difference and was so fun. My mentee was Isabella, a 13 year old cellist, wise beyond her years, who’d just done her Grade 8 and was looking to see what was next. I gave her practical advice about how to schedule and balance everything, as somebody who had already been through the process, and in return I learned from her incredible work ethic. I didn’t tell her what to do explicitly, but alerted her to the possibilities. Pressure can come from all over the place, but I said you don’t have to follow a linear route. I encouraged her to keep her options open.

My greatest achievement is simply being where I am now! Statistically, I’m not meant to be here. I started late for a violinist, so I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be where I am. I also had a whirlwind experience getting into music school at 16, then getting a scholarship to Birmingham Conservatoire. I’m now working with my quartet, The Dunev Quartet and I’m also teaching.

Inspiring a 5 year old or a 52 year old is really magical and it’s great when people do well. I’ve also got my blog which has reached people all over the world. I think I’ll have a portfolio career, with my quartet, a bit of teaching, a bit of writing. As a violinist, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a few different strings to your bow.

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