Who needs LA when your heart is in the Cotswolds?

I have been cursed by the inability to ignore music. If I am at the hairdresser’s or in a restaurant, and there is music playing, I can’t help but listen to it. And if it is bad music, it bothers me.

When I say “bad” music, I mean, of course, music that I don’t like.

As Marilyn Monroe apparently once said, I am a sucker for anything syncopated. I also don’t enjoy falsetto singing voices (except the Bee Gees), Heavy Metal or Reggae music, and I struggle with Jazz Fusion when it strays too far away from the melody. Not surprisingly, I can’t stand the music designed not to be listened to – muzak, or ‘elevator music’ as they call it in the States. Whatever it is that they do to a perfectly decent melody, with the intention of keeping it in the background, has exactly the opposite effect on me. I wince and cringe and, occasionally, if I am seated near enough to a speaker, I become that awkward customer who asks if ‘the music could be turned down a little, please?’

I’d like to think that it’s my background as a dancer that’s to blame for this intolerant, prima donna-ish attitude of mine (which, hopefully, is in contrast to my usual ‘live and let live’ ethos). As a ballet student, interpreting the music was an important part of what we were trained to do, and other than some contemporary scores that sound something like the rustling of a crisp packet, the music for a ballet is just as important as the dancing.

Even though I haven’t danced for years, I still dance in my head all the time. I remember so well the feeling of getting a pirouette just right or to be perfectly balanced ‘en pointe’, and the feeling of using your body’s shapes and movements to perfectly express a beautiful piece of music is truly one of the best feelings in the world.

I greatly envy people with wonderful singing voices. Mine was adequate enough to put me in the school choir that was used (probably to save money) by the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, whenever there was a ballet that had any choral parts in the score. Twelve of us would be bussed-in from school and squeezed into the orchestra pit, usually behind the trombones, for any performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream or The Nutcracker. There was quite a lot to sing in ‘The Dream’, most of which was done by our star soloist Bryony, but The Nutcracker only has one small choral section at the end of the first act, just as the stage is filled with the entire corps de ballet dressed as snowflakes and ‘snow’ is falling from above the stage. As ballet students, we were all mesmerised by what was happening on the stage and the conductor would tap loudly on his podium to focus us on his baton.

So, I have been spoiled by being in the same orchestra pit as such a superb orchestra as we together performed the glory of Tchaikovsky, and I’ve been musically spoiled in many other ways too. I was lucky enough to join in singing backup vocals for both Chaka Khan and The Beach Boys (only in rehearsals, mind) when they kindly donated their time and energy to raising money for my charity The Starlight Foundation many years ago.

None of this gives me any excuse for being grumpy about music that I don’t like. I know that. But, for me, music has to be listened to. It can never be just in the background.

Follow Emma on Twitter: @EmmaSamms1