Passed/Failed: An education in the life of Steve Steinman, rock singer and producer
'The music was always classical'
Thursday 02 April 2009
Steve Steinman, 43, first appeared as Meat Loaf in 'Stars in Their Eyes'. He created and stars in 'Bat – The Symphony', which opened its tour at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton last Sunday (www.batsymphony.com). His other shows include 'Vampires Rock', which features Toyah Willcox.
My little girl, who is dyslexic, came home from school two months ago with a see-through yellow sheet, which seems to focus your eyes on the words in a book. I am also dyslexic. I start reading the first line and skip to the third line, so I have to read it all again. It's as if the white paper blinds you; some people print what they have to read on pink paper.
I tried my daughter's yellow sheet and then got my eyes tested. There are different colours for different people; mine is a reddy colour. They timed me reading passages and with this I was 70 per cent faster.
I'm waiting for my tinted reading glasses to arrive – after all these years! I didn't get any help with my dyslexia at Norman House, a little private school in Manchester where I went when I was four. It was very strict, with a uniform – even a cap.
We moved house to Saddleworth in Oldham. I have fond memories of Greenfield Primary. It was a nice place but I struggled with reading and maths. They spotted there was a problem and one teacher used to pull you out of lessons and have a little reading session with you by yourself.
There was no music at primary school, or at secondary school, that attracted me. At Saddleworth Comprehensive, the music was always classical; you were in the orchestra or the brass band. I could sing but never got asked to join the choir. I think kids today get better chances.
I was more the sporty type and the music and drama people were more academic. The drama club never seemed a place where I could have fitted in. I was in the football and swimming teams – both school and county – and I was the national schoolboy motocross champion.
I actually enjoyed school and I never bunked off. One teacher stands out: Eddie Barton, a sports teacher who later became a head of year. He used to take us for reading; I think it was probably a class for youngsters who had a problem. I'd like to know if the others were dyslexic, like I was.
I passed art O-level; I was very good at drawing. I passed geography and history. I wasn't entered for English or maths. The head told me to do extra sport during those exams and I helped with teaching different aspects of sport to the younger kids.
I left school wondering what to do with myself. My mum had a hairdresser's and I thought, "I'll have a crack at hairdressing". I worked with her and went to Oldham College once a week and got my City & Guilds. I did that for two years and then my father got ill and I took over the family business, a pub. I made it into a gastro-pub. I was the youngest landlord in Great Britain. I used to put on dinner shows and bring in acts like Ken Dodd from all over the country. I would go on and open the show with a song. Finally I put on just me! I got rid of the big acts and saved myself a fortune.
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