Passed/failed: An education in the life of Myleene Klass
'I hid behind my hair to play a solo'
Myleene Klass, 30, was selected in 2001 to be a member of the band Hear'Say on the ITV1 show Popstars. Since then she has topped the classical album charts, been a BBC presenter, and managing to come second in the sixth series of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! Her book, My Bump & Me – From Morning Sickness to Motherhood, is out now.
The only thing I remember about my kindergarten, in the hall of St Peter's Catholic Church in Gorleston, Norfolk, is having cookies and milk while a teacher played the piano. We put up our hand if we knew what was being played – "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star", for example. If it was more obscure and we didn't know what it was, we would make up a story about it.
A lot of people think that "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" is just another nursery rhyme, but it was actually a French folk song adapted by Mozart. It is great to have it on my first album since having my baby, Music for Mothers.
I loved the school uniform at St Mary's RC Primary. It was so exciting to wear a tie, and my dad showed me how to do a Windsor knot. He is a classical musician (I am the sixth generation of classical musicians in the family) but not by training; he was a captain in the Navy and Merchant Navy, and we got to learn how to do a lot of knots!
I loved English. I loved words and patterns, and was obsessed with palindromes. (My daughter is called Ava – a palindrome but that wasn't intentional.) I used to write palindromes and mirror writing, not looking at my notepad but at a mirror next to it. I wasn't sporty – I was always last to be chosen for a team, and I preferred practising the piano to playing netball. I was in the school choirs and recorder group, and I played the violin. My grandfather was a horticulturalist who also played the violin. I never met him but his violin was passed down to me.
At 11 or 12 I went to Notre Dame, a Catholic school in Norwich. The uniform had an awful orange tie and I had to get up at six in the morning. I got back too late for extracurricular activities like music lessons. My dad said the travel was too much, so I was only at Notre Dame for a year.
Cliff Park High School in Gorleston was only a 15-minute walk away. It was hard being a new girl on my own. A lot of the girls were good at sport and rode horses. I didn't, but to fit in on the walk to school I bought a waxed jacket of the sort you would wear if you rode a horse.
On the first day I had to stand on a dais in front of the whole school; I was hideously embarrassed and tried to hide behind my big frizzy perm. The next week I was hiding behind my hair again, playing a violin solo. I joined the choir and the orchestra, and then, when I was 15, I went at weekends to study at the junior department of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London.
It was a huge commitment. I caught a train at 6am on Saturdays, and was never late for a lesson. Was it hard work, studying at the Guildhall and then the Royal Academy of Music? Immensely! They were full-on days, on top of hours of travel, and you had to really commit to it. My mum and dad didn't think that I would last, but I did.
I did two years there before going full-time. It was hard but there's always someone who travels further, some prodigy from Russia or China.
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