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A few months ago, I told you a little about our CEO, Colin “the Dr” Smithers’ love of gliding, this time I caught up with Andrew Little (our Head of Marketing and Sales).

Andrew was happy to share his love of music and playing instruments with me and told me how this passion has shaped his love and the career he has had so far!  I hope you enjoy reading about Andrew’s interests as much as I enjoyed learning about them from him.

What instrument(s) do you play?

Violin, Piano, Voice


Which is your favourite and why?

Violin.  It’s the instrument that I have studied to the highest level and, more particularly, that I enjoy playing in quartets and orchestras.  I prefer the team stuff (sport or music-wise) so my preference would always be to play the instrument that allows me to play accompanied.  Plus, the violin sounds much better that way!

What’s your favourite thing to play on violin?

Salut D’amour by Edward Elgar.  It’s actually the piece that I played at the Plextek 30th anniversary bash.


What’s your favourite piece to play on the piano?

That would have to be Anything by Elton John!!


And your favourite thing to sing?

I would have to say Christmas Carols, without a doubt.

When I attended boarding school, we had to stay after the end of term until Christmas day to sing services at the Cathedral. On Christmas Eve there was a recital by the choir which EVERYONE in the town (Southwell) would attend. Then we had the service on Christmas morning, after which we’d be allowed to go home. That’s the sentimental basis for my love of Christmas carols!

How did you discover your passion for playing?

When I was 8, someone at my school noticed there was a very loud singing voice that could be heard over all others during assemblies.  That voice was mine.  Long story short, I ended up winning a scholarship to attend Southwell Minster Grammar School to be part of the Cathedral Choir.  One of the conditions of the scholarship was that students had to learn THREE instruments straight away.  I chose the violin, piano and euphonium.

When my passion for playing really hit home was whilst playing as part of the orchestra.  I remember sitting towards the back of the strings, just in front of the big brass instruments.  Hearing that big brass sound and the whole orchestra together was an epiphanic moment for me.


Image courtesy of Museum Insider.

What’s the hardest piece you know to play/piece you’re most proud to be able to play?

When I was practicing a lot, the Mendelssohn violin concerto.

Initially, I learnt the slow movement (the easiest one) to play in a competition.  Then learnt the rest.  Later, it became my audition piece for university.


How do you think your music knowledge has helped you in your career?

I think my knowledge and studying of music has helped me in two ways.

First way: it taught me to listen more than I talk.  Playing with others is like a constant dialogue where you need to know when to shut up and let someone else play or when to let them play louder than you.

Second way: Having studied composition to quite a high level, there are some rules in composition around which you can weave inspiration and ideas and allow freedom.  Particularly because my career has been built around small companies, I realise it’s important to have sufficient bureaucracy to get things done BUT innovation and individuality shouldn’t be hampered by a bunch of corporate rules and regulations.


Do you have a favourite composer/musician?

Many!  Mozart #1, closely followed by Prince, Queen, Rachmaninov, there are others but that’ll do for now.


Why are they your favourite?

Couple of reasons: I attended the Nottingham County Youth Orchestra, conducted by Christopher Adey.  At the beginning of the first rehearsal, he talked through all the music we were going to play over the coming terms.  Then he said, the last thing I would allow you to play is Mozart because it’s the most difficult thing you’ll ever play.

His view was that knowing how to play as opposed to what to play is the most difficult part of playing music.

Then my violin teacher said the same thing as Christopher.  I could play all the romantic, baroque etc that I wanted but Mozart will be last because it’s the most difficult to play with precision and taste.


What’s your greatest musical achievement/proudest moment?

When I sang the role of the Pirate king in my college production of the Pirates of Penzance.  Wearing a monstrous looking wig and waders.  And no, I’m afraid there aren’t any photos (lucky for me)!!

Another proud moment for me is when, in sixth form, I wrote a string quartet and then lead the quartet during a competition winning performance at the Albert Hall in Nottingham.


What one thing do you wish you could do but haven’t been able to achieve yet?

I did want to be a film and TV composer but never got round to it – but now I will hopefully live this achievement through my son ( who is in his second year studying film Scoring at Berklee College of Music in Boston. The baton is passed!

Andrew was kind enough to share the image on the right with us, where Andrew and his sons are enjoying a violin practice together!

As one last treat, this is Andrew taking part in his other passion.  Rugby has been a favourite past time of Andrew’s for almost as long as music, though it’s more a case of passionately watching as opposed to playing so much now!

If this has got you interested to read our previous post about Colin’s passion for gliding, you can find the article For the love of gliding… our CEO’s “other life” by clicking the link.