Tell us about who you are and what you do
My name is Al Mobbs – I am a music teacher and co-founder of MusicMaps
How did music get you to where you are now?
I have played music since I was 10, first starting on the double bass and then adding other instruments along the way. I had an excellent teacher at school who really understood that whilst I loved my music there where many other things to pursue too. I dropped out of Edinburgh University because the degree I was doing was not right for me and that same teacher from school gently floated the idea of a music degree. So a lot of practice and one audition later, I started my degree at the Royal College of Music and have never looked back.
Being a musician has been a fantastic portal into the many parts of the music world both in performance and industry. As a player I have toured the world, played on number one records and produced records that have, to my delight, been played millions of times on the likes of Spotify. Shortly after leaving the RCM I also founded a record label and became involved in politics as a director and board member of the Association of Independent Music (AIM) the trade body that looks after all the UK independent labels. Subsequently I represented AIM at the UK Music Board, the umbrella organisation that works to persuade politicians and business leaders about the value of music to the national economy and its key role in the UK’s creative and cultural makeup.
Throughout all of this though I have taught. And it is as a teacher that I am most excited. Good and inspired teaching is one of the best things we can give our children and throughout the last 20 years I have continually worked on improving what I do. I am part of the teaching faculty at St Paul’s Girls’ School and Bute House where I have been for the last 14 years and feel very lucky to be among such inspired, didactic minds.
What advice would you give to the parent of someone learning music for the first time?
Make sure your teacher is right for your child and try to understand as much as possible about what is being taught. Time spent on the instrument between lessons is so important and if you only see your teacher once a week the onus will fall on you to help make the most of practice time.
Name a piece of music that inspires you and why
This is an impossible question as it rather depends on what mood I’m in! I love the lyrical melodies of Red Garland, the energy of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the shimmering beauty of Corelli’s string writing and the drum breaks of hip hop but one piece that keeps me on excited on every listen? The Rite of Spring. It is a brutal, visceral, imposing yet intimate and beautiful piece of music that even to this day sounds outrageous!
Where is the most exciting place music has taken you (venue, country, person to work with etc)?
Everybody I work with has something to say or share and I am always excited to learn new things. Working with Damon Albarn on a number of his projects was an absolute treat. He has such a brilliant, unpretentious, creative mind. And in terms of touring, Mexico is an amazing country.
What is the best piece of advice you were given by a music teacher?
Why don’t you study at the RCM. Thanks Caroline.