THE hard work and dedication of Kirkcaldy jazz musician Richard Michael has been recognised in Her Majesty the Queen’s birthday honours.
Richard has been given a British Empire Medal for his services to music education, having spent more than 30 years teaching students in Fife.
The 62-year-old was a music teacher at Beath High School in Cowdenbeath for 31 years before he retired five years ago.
He is now a visiting professor for St Andrews University and a broadcaster on Radio Scotland’s Jazz House.
But among many in Fife, Richard may possibly be best known for his role as director of Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra.
It’s a position which he has held for 36 years.
Richard, who lives in Kirkcaldy with his wife Morag, told the Press: “As someone who got into trouble for using jazz in the classroom when I started teaching I’m delighted to have been given this award.
“I would teach children to play by ear rather than reading music and it wasn’t the way things were done at the time.
“The first thing I knew about the medal was when the letter came about a month ago.
“My wife said to me stop what you’re doing and open this.”
Richard is also organist at the town’s Abbotshall Church.
“The biggest reason I probably got the honour is because I have been director of FYJO for so long,” he says.
“Many of the ex players are now shining artists and excellent role models for young children playing music.
“I’ve been playing music all my life.
“I love it and have a great time.
“Music is something that you share and something you don’t keep to yourself.
“I have had the great fortune to share it with some wonderful people and their parents over the last 36 years.
“I would just like to say how grateful I am for all the support I have got over the years, particularly from local folk in Abbotshall Church.”
Richard added that it was ‘exciting’ to be given the BEM at this time as it coincides with a new CD release, ‘The Great American Songbook: Live at 2011 Edinburgh Fringe’.
The CD also features his daughters Hilary amd Joanna, and his nephew Paul.
Richard is also set to return to the Fringe this summer with ‘The History of Jazz Piano’ and ‘The Great American Songbook’ at St Mark’s artSpace.