I hate 7/8!

During a MAASER music session Sophia mentioned not liking the time signature 7/8 – so we all rallied in to help her discover the joys of playing in such a funky metre. I loved how we just messed around and were really playful, but, at the same time helped a fellow MAASER combat their fear of it. Granted we are out of time, but it was such a laugh!! Great how Sophia becomes more positive about it towards the end! Yay!

Here are the meanderings of our quaver fun time journey:

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Get Off My Pedestal!!

A good workshop leader allows time for their artform to blossom, I’d hardly say mine is blooming, but, I have been doing some musical weeding…

EH? What I mean is that I am trying to compose more…

My latest sketch is a tongue in cheeky ditty about romance, here are some lyrics:

Get Off My Pedestal!!

It’s not like you willing climbed up there,
Not like we’ll have an epic love affair,
Mona Lisa, Jimmy Hendrix all got one too,
Putting you up there makes me feel so blue.

Gone from being someone I’d pay no attention,
to an obsessive object of my affection
Vertigo, or do you like the view?
Hard to eschew.

Get off my pedestal!
I’m acting like a fool

Not like you’re a very important person,
Not like you got a cape made out of curtain.
Realising that my chemicals are traitors,
Self-inflicted, my pheromones are perpetrators,

Gone from being a rational person,
To a messed up, bunny boiling version.
I climb the base, oh, yes, the column I’m a creeping,
To knock you off my perch, my poor heart is a-weeping.

Get off my pedestal!
I’m acting like a fool!

Then add some sounds:

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Sing along, although only half the music for the verse is up. I wrote it in the morning and then took notes to MAASERs in the afternoon.

Wonder what it would sound like with guitars? It’s meant to sound quite comical. This song was inspired by a conversation about boys with my lil sister Caroline – (I used to change her nappies when she was little) so it was quite weird chatting about crushes. Anyway I have come to the conclusion that men smell… well quite nice 🙂

Thanks to Chris and Tim playing trumpet and tuba! I reckon it needs a quick arrangement and it’s just about ready!

The Youtube Symphony Orchestra

There has been a lot of hype about the Youtube Symphony Orchestra project. Initially I was really excited by how it allowed for amateur and professional musicians from all over the world to perform in a virtual/real orchestra with music composed by Tan Dun (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). The deadline for submissions is today!

I looked at the sheet music; not terribly difficult but not easy either…

I liked how people who wanted to enter the competition would upload practice videos and were given practice advice from their youtube friends. It then dawned on me that people (young mainly) are uploading music exam pieces for discussion and guidance from the classical music youtube community. Super Kewl!!

I wish I had the same virtual opportunity when doing my grade 8 music exams! It just seems so much more motivating!! Rather than seeking approbation from a stuffy, coffee supping suit (mainly tweed wearing for me) in a quaker house to decide whether to pass, fail, merit or give you a distinction for playing 3 pieces you have studied all year long – you can now have people from all over the globe give you feedback – inspiring!

However, although this project pledges to be the world’s first collaborative online orchestra, I am somewhat disappointed by a few of the perimeters in place, just a few….

Firstly you need to be able to read music, and musicians that don’t play instruments of a traditional orchestra nature are immediately excluded. I think that it would be more exciting if the youtube orchestra did something where it promoted classical music whilst still keeping the doors firmly open for musicians who don’t read sheet music, or play conventional instruments. Or maybe that’s their next gig! A youtube cinematic orchestra with guitars, sitars and vocoders allowed! 😉

New Year: Brand New Second Hand Moi & The Arty Jaunt

Picture by Emot
(Pic by Emot)

Happy New Year!

How are you dear Bobablog readers? No really, how are you? Nice Christmas? Nice juicy turkey, nut roast? I managed to only annoy half my family – which was a record!

Well, life is going great! I am adjusting to my to-ing and fro-ing from Birmingham and London. I used to always snooze on train journeys, until I realised that doing something simple like taking off your coat and scarf makes you less warm and sleepy. So my commuting time is being used more efficiently. Well I was able to get lots of reading in…

Also, congratulations to Chris Unitt and Created in Birmingham for winning Best UK Blog in the 2008 Weblog Awards! Nice one to the online Brum community that helped accumulate loads of votes! Whoop!

At present I am going through a manual for creatives called “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. I was recommended a read by Bev Lee-Harling from the Medieval Babes and another musician friend – (forgotten who – d’oh!). So, I thought I’d give it a shot and am really enjoying the process. Has anyone read it and gone through the steps? How was it for you? How far did you get and did it change your life?

I really enjoy the morning pages, but not the waking up 30 mins earlier to do it.
I was warned before cracking open my copy, to not be put off by the reference to the ‘Creator’ and American English, positivity language that can sometimes leave me cold, but I am very much open to it. I have reached week 4, and it is proving to be the most difficult, I am only 12 hrs in… See I don’t own a telly; haven’t since 2003 and so books have replaced ‘TV time chilax’.

Well, one of the tasks for week 4 is no reading for 7 days!! Yup, I am not allowed to read books because it prevents me from navel gazing; or, rather listening to my inner voice, digesting my own thoughts and opinions for a change. It will be hard, but I shall stay busy! I definitely recommend the book to creatives, because it can be soooo difficult when you have people around you that don’t understand what you are doing, or have little respect for it because you aren’t granted PAYE status.

I have been thinking of some aims for 2009 and they are to;
• make the most out of my time in London – theatres, gigs, restaurants, it’s all about the experience
• get involved in lots of music making, so if there are any bands out there that need a keys player get in touch! LOL!
• be the best at whatever work I do – community musician wise and social media training
• to compose regularly and have what I write performed (not shelved) – gulp, first sketch gets airplay on Friday
• to become more confident in my own personal music making
• to setup some sort of community music project here in London – hmmm, why not fuse some social media with it?
• to be on the Internet less… gulp
• to compose for an orchestra!
• stand up for myself a bit more – especially to rude people I don’t care about
• focus on family and seeing my best friends more regularly before kids, and life make it more difficult

What are yours? x

Hobbit Habitat

I have always struggled with the contradictory hippy side of my personality, where I want to save the earth, not eat Nestle products, scorn upon junk from big powerful companies etc., yet I still wear leather boots, scoff mutant meat when desperate, eat Kit Kats when offered, shop at big brands every now and then – what a walking paradox!?! Oh the Bobbie student of yesteryear would be so disappointed!

Cue real world kick up the arse!

The reason why I babble about my lack of eco-warrior hood is because I stumbled upon this website today – and it is something I would love to eventually do, if I ever had the money and community behind me.

Their purpose: “The house was built with maximum regard for the environment and by reciprocation gives us a unique opportunity to live close to nature. ”

How kool is that!! How enchanting to live like a hobbit? How creative and inspired you would be! Or am I day dreaming again?
I liked how it cost a mere £3000 to build and is a low impact eco-friendly nest taking 4 months to build!! WOOT! Amazing! All you’d need would be a community of hobbits and elves to keep you company.

Have a Happy New Year!

Eight Random Things About Me

Apologies in advance for this. I was tagged…
I was tagged again, so I’ll cheat by recycling!

1. I was called Roberta up until the age of 18. I honestly thought this was my name until I saw my birth certificate which clearly states Bobbie-Jane (like something out ‘The Waltons”). People from my past and my mum (when I am naughty) still use it.

2. I am allergic to fish. This makes me sad.

3. I speak Japanese and can write some kanji.

4. I sailed from Aberdeen, UK to Trondheim, Norway in the Cutty Sark Tall Ships’ Race ’97. I was the only student that wasn’t sick and made a roast dinner whilst sailing across the North Sea.

5. I used to aspire to be like my private French tutor Isobelle (a bohemian, sensual 20 something with hairy pits, big boobs, blue hair and drove a Citroen). A couple months back, we met randomly at local pub and I could still sing to her the songs she taught me. It was lovely and a bit weird.

6. I wanted to travel to James Bond Island, Phuket, Thailand around the disastrous tsunami time ’03 but because it was so far south went to Koh Phangan instead. I was kayaking at the time…

7. I have tiny ears, no, really.

8. I was premature by 2 months so an incubator was my first home.

Autumn Term

Back to work and I am involved with a couple of exciting projects in a few schools around the West Midlands.

I am working as joint project manager (with the school’s music teacher) to ensure the cohesion of “Bass Culture”- a project that explores black and urban music. It gives young people the opportunity to learn about the history of a music that is yet to be taken seriously in the academic world- in the UK there is no course at university level that explores black music on its own, you may get blues and jazz shoved in with popular music but that’s it.

I am digressing. Participants also learn music skills such as improvisation- composition and different instrument techniques. So far we have explored the beginnings- from Blues to RNB to Funk. We shall start using Logic to make our own Disco beats to work our way round the music software package.

I am also working once a week as a part time music teacher- in those beautiful 7 hrs I teach all secondary keystage levels 3-5. The most difficult thing for me is the behavioral side. I don’t want to turn into a draconian, shout-a-lot teacher- but, you have to be behaviorist or kids will take the Mickey. I have to pretend that some of the witty yet challenging student’s comments aren’t funny when they blatantly are.

Out of all the levels I teach, AS level composition is the most fun due to motivated students and a higher level of discourse.

I am saddened that the arts are still not taken seriously in some schools where I work; music and drama are taught fortnightly, if at all, and students that are exceptionally talented at the subject are discouraged from studying it at higher levels because it is not respectable. Prevalent issues I am sure.

I am trying hard to find ways in making my lessons fun and engaging, whilst showing the students that music is a valid, academic subject- integral to day to day life.
The Respect Programme has been down then up- Peer Mentors have been changed, but, hopefully by moving to the safe infrastructure of a school it should be easier. This is because teachers have access to parents, home addresses and usually know what is happening in their students’ lives. So far I have met the new participants twice and their energy and enthusiasm is great- I really hope I continue to motivate and inspire them to do right by themselves- will our 6 months together really have a lasting impression? I am being naive here?

Mentoring Young People

A useful article on youth mentoring.

What makes mentoring work?

Ongoing training for mentors
Structure and careful planning
Parent support/involvement
Mentoring programmes that are driven by the needs of mentees

It was good to read an article that looked specifically at the mentoring I am doing. I wish there were more in depth case studies, especially in the UK.

From recent media coverage, it seems that the government are focusing on mentoring young people; especially vulnerable young black males, in order to prevent them from entering gangs and a life of crime. Reports stated that they wanted to invite black professionals such as lawyers and business people to mentor young people as well as becoming role models.

I am not sure how I feel about the report- there are so many facets that contribute towards becoming a vulnerable young person, for example there is ongoing discrimination in the classroom that puts a lot of young black boys at a disadvantage.

The mentoring programme I am working on is quite challenging; at present the biggest issue is engaging and motivating young people through the medium of music as well as increasing their autonomy as peer mentors.

RESPECT Programme

It has kicked off, and I am trying my best to read up on lots of mentoring literature. I met with youth workers at a community centre in Birmingham where I shall be mentoring Peer mentors at risk of anti-social behaviour. I also met with the coordinator of the course and community police to discuss how we would recruit peer mentors and so forth.

I am currently reading an insightful book by Andrew Miller who is senior adviser at the LSC.

Can’t wait to meet the 3 peer mentors. I wonder what they will teach me about life?

Dilemmas, shouting and more work in the pipeline

I am in a bit of turmoil as to whether I go for the PGCE/GTP or keep going as a free-lancer. The arguments for both corners are strong. At some point I probably will enter the formal education sector but maybe I will stick this out a while longer I think… Arhhh!!!

At one of the schools I worked at I was told to work on my voice projection. Apparently my voice is not low enough! So time to work on that. Although I was hostile to the idea at first.

Through the hindrances and frustrations at working at a particularly challenging school, I have learned that when I devise more projects I have to make sure that the venue is suitable for participants and that the facilities are available the day I am there!!!

I am really enjoying my sessions at AI School. The students are really starting to understand the joys of being creative, they are lovely people and have lots of good ideas.It makes me happy to be a workshop leader!

The RESPECT programme is finally on my doorstop which is excitingt!!

I have also had a meeting with Kingstanding 610 community centre and will be setting up projects for them over the Easter period. I have also gained work interest from James Brindley School doing Brazilian/world music workshops.

I have loads to do, proposals, budgets, more interviews, just need more hours in the day to get on top of all this!!


Things are continuing to go well; I shall be doing some summer projects with Birmingham City Council’s Youth Services and LACES (Looked after children).

I also had a meeting with the head of music at my old secondary school and we bounced ideas as to how to get more of the Gifted and Talented students in year nine to take GCSE music through music workshops.

I am still finding working at PB school difficult, some of the other classes are starting to understand the value of being creative and are taking the sessions more seriously, but there is one class at the end who are really trying to make it hard for me and the teacher to get past the warm up stage of our lesson plan. It is like they are immune to the teacher’s shouting. It is such a contrast to the other schools I work out where discipline is not an issue; especially when both schools I atteneded had hardly any disciplinary issues at all.

I am perfecting my proposal writing skills and am working out exactly how much I should charge for the planning and preparation of my projects.

The Respect Programme music mentoring scheme should be kicking off rather soon too!