My musical career began at the age of 9 when I started piano lessons. My music teacher was particularly keen on his pupils taking examinations, so for years I seemed to be endlessly studying for one examination after another as I progressed upwards through the grades. Looking back on it now I can see the thinking behind this. Each grade becomes increasingly more difficult and challenging so it was an effective way of developing an accomplished playing technique. Eventually in my late teens I qualified as an ALCM (Associate of the London College of Music) and subsequently an LLCM (Licentiate of the London College of Music). The latter qualification in those days would have enabled me to teach music in schools but my career aspirations lay in other directions.

Around the age of 15 when my legs grew long enough to reach the pedals of a pipe organ my music teacher, who was also the organist and choirmaster of the church I attended, began teaching me how to play the organ. At first I found this quite tricky. Not only was it necessary to learn a new type of sustained playing style different to that of the piano, but reading the music at the same time as playing with two hands and two feet required a high degree of co-ordination. However after much practice I eventually mastered the technique and joined the exalted ranks of the pedal pushers !  
In the 1960s music stores in my town, in common with those in many other towns, were starting to organise promotional concerts in association with electronic organ companies like Hammond, Lowrey and Yamaha. I was fascinated by the sound of these instruments and their versatility over the pipe organ. Eventually I acquired a second hand A100 Hammond organ, an electro-mechanical tone wheel model with valve amplifier. This I continued to play for a number of years but advances in electronics were enabling other makes of organ to become more orchestral and the tonal limitations of the Hammond were starting to become apparent.

Then I heard about the WERSI company and their electronic organ kits. I decided to go for the Concerto model and ordered the first half dozen kits. Assembly was quite tedious, every cable had to be individually wired and connected and every component on each circuit board had to be be soldered in. Only the keyboards, pedalboard and cabinet came ready assembled. The assembly instructions however were clear and accurate and there were test procedures to follow at various stages in the construction. Eventually after the first set of kits had been built the organ miraculously sprang into life with the sound of the drawbars. From then on additional kits provided the orchestral sounds, reverberation unit, special effects unit, accompaniment unit and total preset memory. All in all, working most nights and weekends it took 9 months to complete the build, if I had known that when I began I think I might not have started!  

I held on to the Concerto for many years until I felt  that developments in digital technology were able to produce instruments that matched the warm, rich sounds of my analogue model. By comparison with the Concerto, my current organ the Scala with its sampling technology produces very realistic instrumental sounds which unlike the analogue model can be edited for tonal quality and also layered together to produce complex sounds and ensembles. The digital technology is able to offer many more features than were possible in analogue technology but best of all is the ability to expand the capabilities of the instrument. Unlike the Concerto, no additional circuit boards are required, it’s all there in the software.     
After  graduating from university I spent 10 years in the research and development department of a large computer manufacturer designing mainframe supercomputers. Although we didn’t realise it at the time I guess you could say that we were technology pioneers inventing a whole new industry. Certainly it’s been fascinating to watch many of the ideas and innovations we developed back then gradually find their way over the years into modern day PCs and laptops. Then I had a change of career and took a post at university teaching computer design, digital systems, digital electronics and microprocessors. In the mid 1980s I took a year’s sabbatical to study for a Masters Degree in Integrated Circuit System Design and subsequently introduced this into the department’s degree curriculum. Then followed several years assisting industry to migrate to this technology through various UK government and European Union initiatives. Building on this expertise we were subsequently able to offer an entirely online Masters Degree course in Advanced Microelectronics to design engineers in industry. State of the art design software was employed and delivered over the Internet to the home computer. Before retirement I had the opportunity to combine my background in electronics with my interest in music by developing courses and modules in Sound Processing, Sound Engineering and Sound Recording.

Music has always been a hobby of mine rather than a career although in the past I have been involved with various music groups, societies and choirs and I continue to play the pipe organ on a regular basis. I very much enjoy playing the Scala, it’s such a versatile instrument and there’s always something new to discover, the possibilities are endless in the wonderful world of WERSI !
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