Val Glynn obituary

Other lives: Guitar teacher whose simple approach to song-accompaniment brought the joy of music-making to many

My mother, Val Glynn, who has died aged 92, was a successful guitar and music teacher despite having had no formal musical training – her manner of teaching turned out proficient and confident performers.

She only learned to play the guitar herself in her early 30s, yet remarkably, within just a few years, in 1966, she began teaching guitar as an accompaniment to folk-singing at Richmond Adult College. For a time she also taught musical appreciation at a school for children with special educational needs, and to young men at Latchmere remand centre. Altogether, Val’s time as a music teacher and music maker spanned four decades.

Val Glynn at St Martin’s School of Art in 1950
Val Glynn at St Martin’s School of Art in 1950 Photograph: none

Born in Kensington and Chelsea, Val was the daughter of Fielding West, a Labour MP for the London constituencies of North Kensington and then North Hammersmith, who died when she was five years old, and Peggy (nee Reece), a part-time commercial illustrator. Val had a brother, David, who died as a baby before she was born, and a half-brother, Ron, from her father’s first marriage.

Val inherited Peggy’s artistic talents and, after Burlington school in Shepherd’s Bush, in 1948 began studying fine art at St Martin’s School of Art. Her time there was cut short by her marriage in 1951 to Kenneth Glynn, a trade union general secretary, with whom she had five sons (including two pairs of twins). During this time Val and Kenneth were active in the local and national Labour party and CND groups.

In the late 1970s, Peggy, who lived in the flat above us, was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and Val became her primary carer until her death in 1980. After Kenneth’s retirement in 1983, he and Val spent two happy decades, busy with music-making groups, activity holidays in the UK, and looking after grandchildren. After Kenneth was diagnosed with dementia in 2003, Val ceased her music teaching and cared for him at home until his death in 2014.

Val was a life-long socialist and pacifist, and her spirits rose and fell during the past few years with the changing directions of the Labour party. Her final project was to research, compile, and write an affectionate, richly illustrated biography of Peggy.

One son, Dominic, died in 2021. Val is survived by the remaining four, Gareth, Mel, Gus and me, and by seven grandchildren, Nathan, Kadeem, Claire, Danny, Felix, Elliot and Seanan.

Paul Glynn

The GuardianTramp

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