Thursday, September 3, 2020 Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason: ‘Black boys in state schools are not expected to pick up an instrument’.

Picture: Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason 

2 September 2020

By Rosie Pentreath

The mother of seven extraordinary musical children talks to Classic FM about race in classical music, the true nature of talent, and raising a household full of music and love.

“Do they still have a normal life?” That’s a question asked frequently of Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason, the mother of cellist Sheku-Kanneh-Mason, pianist Isata, violinist Braimah, cellist Jeneba, Konya and Animata who play violin and piano, and youngest – a cellist and pianist – Mariatu.

The answer is it’s an extraordinary life, of course. But one with plenty of ordinary pursuits, like football, competitive games of Monopoly and muddy-kneed farm scrambles with grandparents in Wales, as the mother of seven’s new book, House of Music, attests.

‘Did you have to force them to practice?’

“They also ask ‘did you have to force them practice?’,” Kadiatu confides. “I think there is an idea that classical music is somehow a really painful torturous thing that no one would do unless they were forced to do it. If the boys were famous footballers, no one would ask ‘did you force them to kick a ball?’”

She continues: “The idea that classical music is a joyous thing and is fun to do would be nice for everyone to know! I know it’s hard work and you have to practise, but you have to practise for anything you do to be successful in it.”

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