Grizel's career
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#1: Grizel's career Author: JayBLocation: SE England PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 2:09 pm
I was thinking about Mr Cochrane's insistence that Grizel study music instead of games.

It occurred to me that he might have had a point.

Games mistress was something Grizel could only do as long as she was relatively young and fit. I remember reading a girls' book in which one of the characters had to give up her ambition to teach games when she had rheumatic fever. An injury like the one Miss Wilson had in Eustacia, or such as Eustacia herself had, could also put an end to a games mistress's career.

Music teaching, however, was something Grizel could do into old age, with private pupils in her own home if she was no longer fit enough for a full time post in a school. Mr Cochrane might have thought he was providing Grizel with the best means of supporting herself throughout her life.

But we only see this from Grizel's perspective, and she isn't good at seeing other people's points of view, and understandably doesn't believe her father has her best interests in mind, given his past record.

#2:  Author: PatLocation: Doncaster PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 3:22 pm
I can see your point, and it's a valid one. On the other hand my games mistress at school must have been in her fifties at least - she had very short grey hair anyway. She could keep up with most of us too, though unlike the CS girls, most of us were quite happy if we could get out of games!!!

#3:  Author: MonaLocation: Hertfordshire PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 3:35 pm
If I remember rightly (and it's been a while since I read the relevant books), Grizel didn't have to be able to make a living, as she had an inheritance (from her Grandmother?).
Of course, we do only hear Grizel's side of things, but I don't think that concern that she choose a career that would support her was any part of Mr Cochrane's motivation.
And like Pat, at least one of my PE teachers was in her fifties, and had no problems keeping up!

#4:  Author: Alison HLocation: Manchester PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 3:52 pm
My PE teacher was in her 50s, but my friend's mum was a PE teacher and packed up in her late 30s. Although that was possibly because she, like me, has had a lifelong battle with her weight, rather than because of her age!

#5:  Author: JayBLocation: SE England PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:11 pm
Mona wrote:
If I remember rightly (and it's been a while since I read the relevant books), Grizel didn't have to be able to make a living, as she had an inheritance (from her Grandmother?).

But that inheritance evidently wasn't enough for her not to need to work, and not enough for her to buy into Deira's business.

She did eventually inherit from her father, but in the uncertain economic conditions of the 1920s and 1930s, Mr Cochrane may not have been sure he would have anything to leave Grizel when he died - lots of fortunes were lost then.

#6:  Author: JennieLocation: Cambridgeshire PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:21 pm
I think one of Grizel's points was valid, though. She was made to learn to play the piano, but she wasn't really musical. And her teacher grumbed about her lack of musicality.

#7:  Author: TanLocation: London via Newcastle Australia PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:30 pm
Although Grizel does mention (in Head Girl) that she wanted to read mathematics at Royal Holloway? (At least I think it was maths). I wonder why he didn't like that? Or was it to keep the peace with Grizel's stepmother?

#8:  Author: LottieLocation: Humphrey's Corner PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:44 pm
Maybe Grizel's long dead mother had been musical, and her father wanted Grizel to keep up the music for her sake, but, if so, I don't know why he couldn't have told her.

I'm sure there's scope for a drabble challenge here - who can come up with the best reason for Mr. Cochrane's insistence on Grizel learning music?

#9:  Author: Alison HLocation: Manchester PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:48 pm
He probably just thought that it was a "suitable" thing for a young lady! Grizel's stepmother sounds like someone who would have had delusions of grandeur and might have thought that teaching music was posher than teaching maths or English or whatever.

#10:  Author: LesleyLocation: Allhallows, Kent PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:52 pm
Grizel was not allowed access to the bulk of her inheritance until she was 35 unless both her lawyer and her step-mother agreed. The lawyer was more than happy, her step-mother refused. No reason other than pure vindictivenes.

#11:  Author: SunglassLocation: Usually London PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 5:24 pm
Leaving aside for a moment the question of the ethics of forcing your offspring to study something in which they have no interest - and whether said offspring then has a right to be enormously unpleasant to her pupils because she hates what she does for a living - I find EBD's rather idiosyncratic definition of 'musical' interesting in relation to Grizel (and by extension, in relation to other characters).

Grizel is represented as being a very talented musician beyond doubt - she is technically brilliant from long years of practice, and clearly plays enormously well - but according to EBD's standards, reiterated throughout the CS, she 'is not really musical'. This seems to mean that she lacks emotional engagement, and, basically, that, even though she plays extremely well, she doesn't enjoy it. Basically, she fails Joey's slightly maddening standards for 'true' musicianship (as voiced to Zephyr Burthill, another apparently technically very good musician who lacks 'real' musicality) that mere technique will not get you far, and that your 'soul' somehow oozes out into your playing, making poor Phoebe a potentially better cellist than Zephyr, despite her illness, because of her greater 'soul'...

I think this is nonsense - it's possible to play brilliantly without much caring, or being a particularly nice human being, and it's certainly possible to be intensely responsive to music and be incapable of doing more than banging a saucepan with a spoon!

Calling Grizel 'not really musical' because of this seems false logic to me - Grizel is 'musical' by any standards, because she plays so well. That she doesn't get particularly excited by music, or not enough to want to pursue it, seems to me an entirely different matter! Not wanting to make a career of her talent doesn't mean she isn't 'musical'! It's not possible to distinguish what she really feels about music in isolation from the fact that from an early age (as far as I remember - when do we first hear of her father's plans?) she knows she is being forced into a career in it, which I can imagine would be enough to make her resent all that practice.

I've occasionally wondered why, given that she was 'forced' to make a career in music, she didn't choose something other than teaching it - I can quite imagine the awfulness of teaching something that reminded you of your own resented training and the fact that you were surrounded by colleagues teaching girls PT, as you'd wanted! Wouldn't Renee Lecoutier's planned career of a concert accompanist have been more appropriate? At least travel, away from a school environment, and not having to teach...

#12:  Author: RosieLocation: Land of Three-Quarters Sky PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 12:06 am
I have a feeling PE teachers have to have another subject as well; ours all seemed to teach geography!

Then again, maybe that was just my school trying to cut back on salaries...

#13:  Author: Kathy_SLocation: midwestern US PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 2:10 am
I'd agree that Mr. Cochrane's logic probably did hinge upon music being a more "suitable" career for a proper young lady than a tomboyish choice of games mistress. In addition I fear that he, and, to an even greater extent, his 2nd wife, were serious control freaks. (What would have been the contemporary idiom?)

However, I think JayB has a point, particularly since I've just finished a life of Lenora Mattingly Weber in which her husband has to give up PE teaching/coaching because of his health. I don't think a teacher has to be a stellar athlete order to help capable* pupils improve, but it would take a certain amount of stamina.

*as opposed to the terminally klutzy
(That would be me.)

#14:  Author: Liz KLocation: Bedfordshire PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 8:31 am
Rosie wrote:
I have a feeling PE teachers have to have another subject as well; ours all seemed to teach geography!

One PE teacher in my first year at secondary school also taught history.

#15:  Author: SquirrelLocation: St-Andrews or Dunfermline PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 9:29 am
That's interesting... Our PE teachers seemed to be dedicated to teaching PE only. At least, I never came across any of them doing anything else. Mind you, we were a big enough school that we kept 4 or 5 of them fully occupied, even with people managing to opt out of PE as they got older...

#16:  Author: RosalinLocation: Swansea PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 12:49 pm
We had 2 PE teachers and both of them taught only that, although one was also head of lower school. I always thought of her as being early 50s from her appearance. Although presumably she couldn't have been that for all my 7 years in the school Confused

#17:  Author: lindaLocation: Leeds PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 8:58 pm
My sister, who is well into her fifties is still a games/PE teacher. She is head of games at her high school but still does a lot of teaching - and she also teaches dance and choreographs all her school's drama productions. She is still extremely. fit, but doesn't look in the least like a PE teacher. (Quite tall and not in the least sylph-like). Laughing Laughing Laughing Her second subject is RE but I don't think she has ever realy taught it.

#18:  Author: CatherineLocation: Newcastle upon Tyne PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 10:19 pm
I had about four different PE teachers - two of them were only there for a year or two and it was these two that actually seemed to do any sort of energetic activity!

The other two didn't seem to do much more than spend half the lesson chatting to their 'favourites' or sit / stand around giving orders.

I hated my PE lessons with a passion!

#19:  Author: KatherineLocation: London, UK PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 10:33 pm
Sunglass wrote:
Wouldn't Renee Lecoutier's planned career of a concert accompanist have been more appropriate? At least travel, away from a school environment, and not having to teach...

I think that if you do go along with the logic of Grizel wasn't really musical and thus super-good at playing then this wouldn't be possible as she just wouldn't be good enough. I tend to take the view that you need both natural talent and a lot of slogging to really succe d with somehting like that and Grizel didn't have the talent or the love for it. To be honest, if she didn't have the passion for it then she probably wouldn't have enjoyed being a concert pianist either.
I thinkk Phoebe did have talent - inherited from her father and presumably she put in the hours too. She got his love of music.

I'm not sure that I am knowledgeable enough to really apreciate the difference between Grizel and a really talented person so am not 100% convinced about the passion argument but I did babysit a boy who was learning the piano and was so impressed by the natural way he just seemed to be 'in' the music he was playing and he was playing very well despite having only just started. A lot better than I remermbered from my childhood lessons.

#20:  Author: ArielLocation: Hither Green, London PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 11:55 am
At my old school (and I thought this was standard), PE teachers who wanted to stay in the teaching profession once their PE days were over (some gave up when they reached the late 40s/50s) went and trained in a classroom subject (assuming that they hadn't qualified to teach anything other than PE already). I recall one of my PE teachers, who was also my form tutor, going to train to teach maths; another trained in English.

I guess it depended on the individual teacher though. That particular one, who trained in maths, told me he didn't want to be running around on the rugby field at his age. But another (male) PE teacher was still going strong into his 60s.

#21:  Author: JayBLocation: SE England PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 12:11 pm
Age could be a factor in Grizel's case, especially as people became 'old' at younger ages in the past. (I can remember when eighty was considered to be a good age, nowadays ninety isn't unusual.)

But I was thinking also, and perhaps more importantly, of the possibility of illness or injury which might mean Grizel was no longer able to be active - or at least not active enough to run around a hockey field. Something which could be corrected with fairly minor surgery today could be a disabling injury back then. Something like that could end a games mistress's career at any time.

#22:  Author: Alison HLocation: Manchester PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 5:13 pm
It could easily have happened - especially given the rate at which accidents occurred at the CS! So many professional sportsmen and women have their careers cut short by injury: obviously Grizel wouldn't have needed to have the same level of fitness as they did, but, as you say, injuries were more difficult to treat then.

Of course, if she had had an accident, doubtless she'd have been rescued by a doctor who would then have swept her away from a life of PT teaching anyway, as Hilary Burn did Laughing !

#23:  Author: Mrs RedbootsLocation: London, UK PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 6:19 pm
In "The School by the River", the Principal tells Jennifer and her friends that only a very few of them will made the grade as concert pianists and accompanists - I think the figure is something like 1 in 100 - but there is a crying need for really good music teachers. And it seems that girls with real musical talent are given absolutely all the encouragement and coaching they need - and girls with a real talent for teaching are also encouraged, too. I think that may well have been EBDs own experience - and I do wonder whether she ever experienced a teacher like Grizel! I don't do music well enough that I'd be able to distinguish between the two kinds if they came up and bit me on the nose, but I do see that people who have more innate musicality than I have probably can!

Re games teachers - I know that when I was at school, the senior games mistress had some kind of back injury that had left her very stiff, and she didn't play herself, although her junior did, and continued to do so probably until she approached retirement. Both women taught until retirement age, and are still going strong in their 80s!

But they still look most extraordinarily uncomfortable in skirts... do all PE Staff, do you think (my daughter always said the ones at her school did, too, but they looked perfectly all right to me - not like some of the visiting ones we met at the West of England Tournament!).

#24:  Author: jenniferLocation: Taiwan PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2008 4:19 am
I do think there is a definite difference between a technically brilliant pianist and a musically brilliant one. There is that spark that that allows a musician to put something of themselves in the music they are playing, to feel it, and to make someone else feel it. I remember in music festivals it was pretty obvious among the students who was able to make the music beautiful, and who was technically good but without that spark.

For someone to be a professional musician they need *both*. Someone who loves music but doesn't have the technical end may enjoy singing with the radio, listening to concerts, or even playing as an amateur, but will never make a living at it. Someone with technical brilliance but no soul will only make it to a certain point, but will never progress past it.

You can argue that a musical career is iffy too - Grizel could injure a hand or arm, or get repetitive strain injuries (common among musicians), or a bad back. She has money coming to her at age 35, so earning her keep after that isn't as much of an issue.

I also think that taking music lessons from someone who hated what they were doing would be pure torture, and almost guaranteed to turn someone off of music. For Grizel, I think the problem wasn't talent, it was the way she disliked music, probably in part because she was forced into it so strongly. It's the same way someone can be naturally athletic and have the right build for professional sports, but still hate playing team sports. She also wasn't a natural teacher - she doesn't like teaching, she's short tempered and sarcastic, and not good at interpersonal interactions. So you have someone who doesn't like teaching teaching a subject she isn't fond of.

I don't think Grizel really wanted to teach anything - I could see here as a business manager or accountant/book-keeper or technician - something more organizational/technical and more traditionally a male career, unlike the more traditional female jobs of teacher or nurse, which are more nurturing.

I am surprised that she didn't take the opportunity to get new training during the war - no one could object to her signing up for war work, and she could get enough training to defy her parents afterwards. Her problem when she leaves school is that she can't afford to train under her own power, and if cut off would have no useful training or skills to support herself.

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