At thebigword we actively encourage our employees to take on new adventures, hobbies and explore their talents. We have a strong global workforce of over 600 employees, and we’re proud of the interesting, amazing things they achieve outside of the workplace.

This month we caught up with Nick, our Global Head of Learning and Development to discuss his passion for music – playing instruments and music production.

Discovering the music within me

“My hobby is playing musical instruments and music production. I play guitar, bass guitar, a bit of piano, drums, and of course – I do a bit of singing. I started playing the cello aged 5 years old and moved through the grading structure quickly to a high level for my age, but stopped playing when I got to high school. People started to ‘take the proverbial’ when I took my cello on the school bus and it’s fair to say I lost my confidence a bit. There were other instrument options available in school at the time so I started to learn percussion. I remember going home and asking for a drum kit for Christmas and to prove my commitment I was handed a yellow pages to practice on.”

Around the world

“After school I left musical instruments and formal practice alone for a bit. I went to live in London and started a career. After 10 years down south I sold my house, relocated back to Yorkshire, got married and for my honey moon went travelling around the world. I can remember being in Byron Bay, Australia, and heard this sound I’d not heard before. It was someone playing the Yidaki (a.k.a didgeridoo) and I decided I wanted to learn how to play it. I bought a really nice one to be shipped back home and on my return got to grips with playing it. It’s a cool instrument and involves lots of technique like circular breathing which enables a continuous sound to be produce for long periods of time.”

Other instruments
“I’ve got a few different instruments at home – acoustic guitars, electric guitars, bass guitar, keyboards, bongos, congas – as well as a recording and producing set up. My friend was a professional musician and played in a band in the 90’s and every week we get together to write and produce songs. At home I can’t walk past a guitar without picking it up!”

Achievements and claim to fame

“I’d say my biggest achievement personally has been playing tracks I’ve written on the radio. I’ve had professional musicians play on some songs I’ve written. It’s amazing to hear something you have written played by a bunch of professionals!”

Hobbies and the workplace – where’s the link?

“When you have a complex job, you need something that can help you break off from that. It’s important to have something completely different to immerse yourself in. Writing songs takes planning, thinking, and it requires me to be creative. On reflection, these attributes go hand in hand with my role at thebigword. I’ve been training groups of people for many years where you are stood there in front of a crowd, some might say performing… maybe my job and passion aren’t that different after all.”

Nick Hill, Global Head of Learning and Development