Jazz musician Linley Hamilton answers 20 Questions on Health and Fitness

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: trumpeter and jazz broadcaster Linley Hamilton

Belfast jazz musician, broadcaster and teacher Linley Hamilton
Gail Bell

I have been shocked at how effective working from home is


Up and at it – what is your new morning routine? How has it changed?

It hasn't really changed at all. I'm up at 7.15am to feed the three donkeys: Neilly, Sasha and Star – they get carrots, a little horse meal and some bread which is just about to turn stale. I then shower, turn on the laptop to see what, if anything, is on the to-do list, then I take the trumpet out for a two-hour practice, unless I'm teaching. I lecture at Ulster University's Magee Music Department and teaching and supervision has moved online now, so it's really important to know the timetable and to be ready to answer any questions that might come in overnight.


What might you eat in a typical working day for…Breakfast?

Glass of orange juice, two Weetabix, two free-range hen or duck eggs (boiled) and a coffee.


A bowl of my wife's vegetarian soup or a light fish dish.

Evening meal?

Mostly vegetarian meals these days – beetroot risotto, spaghetti Bolognese, curry, halloumi – something along that line. I'm spoiled.


Have you been able to work from home – if so, how have you found it?

Yes and I have enjoyed it. I have been shocked at how effective it is, even though it has been harder work. I use a computer package which allows me to show a video of myself teaching in real time, but I can also share documents and Powerpoints prepared in advance and the students can all see me all the time. I can request to see them if they are engaging at any point and there is a chat room. The class can be recorded so they can watch it again. There is a feeling that you have to be more accurate because it is recorded, and so there is lots of preparation time, but they are a great bunch of enthusiastic students who really want to learn. Some of them will go on to have incredible careers that we can all enjoy in the future. In terms of the radio show, I do that from home too and that is easier. I have a wall of CDs and vinyl to wade through and it has to be one of the most enjoyable jobs I have ever done – sharing my passion with an audience that wants to be informed, entertained and, at times, educated. Trumpet practice happens every day and we have devised ways to record and video our playing, share with a producer and produce virtual ensembles. It's all new but very exciting.


Best/easiest lockdown meal?

Baby potatoes, boiled and roasted, roasted, chopped peppers, home-made pesto and haloumi – wowser! It's the best, but probably not the easiest.


Weekend treat?

A wee G ‘n' T.


How have you kept physically and mentally fit during lockdown?

I live in the country, so lots of walking. I try and build that into the daily routine, walking around country roads and taking in the mountain views.


What has been your daily outdoor exercise?

A 90-minute walk – almost every day.


How do you relax?

I listen to music – mostly jazz from the 1970s. I am a huge rugby league and cricket fan, supporting Wigan Rugby League and England Cricket, so I enjoy tuning in to those sports when I can.


Teetotal or tipple?

Tipple – see 5 above.


What book are you currently reading?

Trumpeter Miles Davis's autobiography.


Best Netflix?

Anything with Ben Stiller.


Most surprising thing you've learned about yourself?

I was surprised to discover I don't like driving.


On a scale of one to 10, where have you been in relation to cabin fever and where are you now?

Maybe a five. I am coping OK and living in the country makes a difference; you can get out more and the donkeys keep me busy, especially when it comes to dunging out.


What are the three things you missed most during the beginning of lockdown?

Playing gigs, going to gigs and seeing the musicians I work with. I really miss the comradery.


Where will you go and what will you do when restrictions are fully lifted?

Dublin. Most of my best friends are there and that is the hardest part of all this.


Biggest gripe?

I try not to…


Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?

I try not to watch the news as much and I have ended up doing social media more. I have also increased the amount of time I practise. It has all made me try to be more independent.


Any new skills or hobbies?

I am definitely much improved when it comes to using computer programmes for teaching. I am probably a better teacher too, as the only way to do it online is to have it done in advance, so there is an overview and a better way of pacing the teaching and dropping the killer lines at the right time, so they light their touch-paper and make an impact on musician's for life.


What would you like to see change for good when this is all over?

I think I would like to see people being more tolerant of other's views and ways of life. Surely, it is time to park hatred, put aside differences, enjoy people for who they are, respect equality and ‘live and let live'.


Has coronavirus changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

I have always been one for packing a lot into life and I have had time to reflect on my playing career as I launched my last album – Linley Hamilton: For the Record – in early March, just before the first lockdown. I need to still plan for what recordings I am going to put out in the future. I have five solo albums now and I am so relieved I have been so active in this field. I still plan to do more in the future but in some ways the pressure seems off a little as a result. I have friends who have passed away this year and others who have been extremely sick and it does make you think, but my motto has always been ‘Keep on keeping on' – and that, if anything, is even more important now.

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