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Danger Music : How teaching the cello to children in Afghanistan led to a self-discovery almost too hard to bear - Eddie Ayres

Danger Music

How teaching the cello to children in Afghanistan led to a self-discovery almost too hard to bear

Paperback Published: 29th August 2018
ISBN: 9781760528836
Number Of Pages: 304

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From the former ABC Classic FM broadcaster comes a remarkable story about the power of music and courage to be one's self.

In 2014 Eddie was spiralling into a deep depression - he quit the radio, travelled, and decided on a surprising path to salvation. Eddie applied for a position at Dr Sarmast's renowned Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul, teaching cello to orphans and street kids in a war zone.

In Danger Music, Eddie takes us through the bombs and chaos of Kabul, into the lives of the Afghan children who are transported by Bach, Abba, Beethoven and their own exhilarating Afghan music. Alongside these epic experiences, Eddie determines to take the final steps to secure his own peace; he allows himself to become the man he always knew was waiting for him.

About the Author

Eddie Ayres learnt the viola as a child in England, studying in Berlin and London before playing the viola for eight years with the Hong Kong Philharmonic. As Emma Ayres, she moved from Hong Kong to Australia to present a long-running and extremely popular radio program on ABC Classic FM, while teaching music privately and professionally.

When Emma hung up her headphones at the end of 2014, there was a public outpouring of emotion. This tattooed, intelligent, warm and witty woman had made her way into the hearts of many Australians. What the devoted audience didn't see, however, was Emma's daily struggle to live within her woman's body. For sixteen years, she knew that she was transgender but to take any action seemed impossible. Emma believed there was too much to lose -- family, friends and her career.

In 2016, Emma accepted a position teaching cello, viola and double bass to Afghanistan's children at the world-renowned Afghanistan National Institute of Music. Amid the chaos and unpredictability of life in war-savaged Kabul, Emma realised she had to accept her future and returned to Australia to begin transitioning from female to male. In 2016, Emma became Eddie.

Danger Music, Eddie's second book will be published in September 2017. He is currently writing a children's book which will be published in 2018. Cadence: Travels with Music, published in 2014, was his first book.

Industry Reviews

Eddie shares his brave journey to self-knowledge and self-acceptance and opens our eyes to the beauty that can be found in the worst of places. It is a brave and incredibly inspiring story. * Out in Perth *
Never upstaging his students' dramas even as he struggles with his own identity, Eddie Ayres writes with forthrightness and compassion in this timely, powerfully-told tale. * The Age (syndicated to SMH, Canberra Times & WA Today) *
I was deeply moved by this book. I was moved by the plight of the children living through this hell and moved by their bravery and that of their families. And I was moved by Eddie's decision to finally find the courage to become the man he always knew he was. * Good Reading *
The book is so immersive, that the reader feels a sense of relief when Ayres decides to return to Australia. But he is also able to leave part of us there, absorbing the beauty and the terror that is Afghanistan and hoping beyond hope that at the very least, the musicians who graduate ANIM will have more positive choices in their futures, just as Eddie Ayres has ultimately been able to forge his required path. * Loud Mouth - The Music Trust Ezine *
Danger Music moves in whirlwind snippets through Eddie's days teaching in Kabul. Students appear and disappear with startling irregularity...The stress, uncertainty and trauma of everyday life in Kabul are felt keenly in this whirlwind narrative. In one moment, Eddie is describing the beauty of the young cello players playing together; in another, he's wondering how to get everyone out if suicide bombers and the Taliban storm the school. I loved this book. * Readings.com.au *
There are so many memoirs and biographies available these days, very few are written with as much heart as Danger Music. Eddie Ayres writes of tremendous hardships, unfathomable in many ways, with humour and most importantly, with understanding. Captivating, moving and relevant...this book is one of the best memoirs I've ever read. * The Bibliophile's Bookshelf (blog) *

Danger Music Fabulous - also bought one for a friend.


Light in physical weight (the book itself) timely & meaningful in content, revealing & compassionately personal about someone we are quite familiar with as a radio presenter in a situation we knew nothing about. Moving, educational, uplifting.



A must read


I chose this for our Book Group as I listen to Eddie Ayres on the radio and remember him when he was Emma so was interested to learn why he decided to transition. However the main thrust of the book is about the time he spent teaching music to young people in Afghanistan and it is truly harrowing to think of the life of the people in that country. His decision to go Afghanistan and why he returned to Australia show an honesty not often found. I will be interested to find out what the rest of our group think of this book.




5.0 2


ISBN: 9781760528836
ISBN-10: 1760528838
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 304
Published: 29th August 2018
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 12.8  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.28

Earn 38 Qantas Points
on this Book