Meet the Peri’s: Christopher Frost

The Abbey Music department is very fortunate to be supported by a vastly experienced team of peripatetic teachers.

In this feature, we get to know one of them a little better:

Name: Christopher Frost

What instrument(s) do you teach?
Saxophone and Piano

When did you discover your love
of music?
My grandfather and great grandfather were musicians. In fact, I have an old photograph of my great grandfather in the army band taken at the Somme in 1917.

My mum always liked the violin as he played that (amongst other instruments) and so I started violin lessons from the age of 6. At 8, I started to learn the piano which is where my love for playing music really took off. I really loved the sound of the saxophone and started lessons at 13 and immediately joined the school jazz band and it became my favourite instrument.

My parents always played records over Sunday dinner and I loved listening to these. I often asked them to put on Paul Simon’s Graceland because of the many wonderful voices, instruments and harmony he used.

What advice would you give to young musicians?
Listen to as much diverse music as possible and sing. This will broaden your horizons and develop aural skills. Play with other people as this is the most joyful aspect of music and will greatly enhance your musicianship. Understanding rhythm and having a strong sense of pulse far outweigh the importance of note reading.

However, commit note mnemonics to memory at the earliest opportunity. Once they are internalised, note reading is just like riding a bike as you will never forget them. If you can read well and are strong rhythmically you can cross over easily between different styles of music and will be in demand. Also, you may not realise it now, but scales and arpeggios are a huge help later in your musical journey. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and experiment as these will lead to many light-bulb discoveries.

What is your favourite piece of music and why?
An incredibly difficult question to answer but pieces that spring to mind are An American In Paris, West Side Story Overture and the Theme from ET. I have a large film music collection with John Williams, Hanz Zimmer, Michael Giacchino and Alexandre Desplat comprising my favourite film music composers although The Nightmare Before Christmas is my favourite soundtrack album.

What is your funniest musical moment?
Rehearsals and shows usually provide plenty of funny moments; it’s the interactions with your fellow musicians, singers and actors often during “you had to be there” moments.

Once I played Hawaii 5-0 while the Bishop of Reading was processing up the aisle for a service to consecrate a garden and another time I was accompanying a singer whose front tooth fell out mid-song.

What is your most memorable musical moment?
At school I sang in the choir in front of the Queen and led the school marching band through the streets of Henley in an open top bus parade for the triumphant GB rowers from the 2000 Olympics.

I have performed alongside Erasure’s Andy Bell on live radio on BBC Radio 2’s Madeley on Sunday and on BBC Radio Scotland during the Edinburgh Fringe. Both of these were more terrifying than singing in front of the Queen.

In 2019, I realised a personal goal becoming composer and musical director of a London show that ran for 18 performances.

If you could meet any composer from any point in time, who would it be and why?
I would meet George Gershwin as he was the catalyst for my favourite art forms and had the confidence in his ability to compose music like no-one else had before. I would love to talk to him about his approach to harmony.