a sketch for today

I can’t compete with Anna Hardy’s photo a day challenge, but have been writing short bits and bobs.

Here’s today’s grey cloud, cherry blossom meanderings:

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Quite church-y at the start, maybe I’ll take it along to my rehearsal, see if we can turn it into something nice.

The Waiting Room

Harborne Academy‘s waiting room transformed:

We faced several drawbacks, people not understanding the ideas of our transformed space, (especially older groups), some said there was not enough seating, some didn’t like it, but we quickly we addressed their concerns, and resolved any issues.  Continue reading “The Waiting Room”

Life After

Been busy writing music for Uchenna Dance Company. The updated version is complete. The performance is this Friday at The Place, near Euston. I’ve enjoyed the process, it was a tiny bit stressful due to the fact we had NO time.

Dancers work in 8s, my piece was in 4, shouldn’t be hard then, multiply by 2. Think again, I scratched my head umpteen times trying to get music and dance sections to flow. My counting has improved. A musician who can’t count, yup, shocking. I think I was mesmerised by dance movement. I’d conjure sounds and ideas for the moves, oh and then, whoops, I’d lost my place! Well, I can now confirm to you dear readers, that I can count 39 rounds of 8 counts of music (78 bars of 4) without getting lost. (Should I be proud?)

I’ve had an amazing time and hopefully they’ll be more dance collaborations to come.

This is what it sounds like:

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(Afro, house-y in places, electro. I’ve tried to get rid of the vocals, some randomly left in)…

What’s it about? Exploring the emotive responses of loosing someone you love.

8Bit Playtime

I’m working on a school project to facilitate the transformation of a school waiting room into a retro computer gamed inspired space. Today’s challenge was to play with 8 Bit sounds (think Mario Kart/Pacman) and produce a simple loop in 30 minutes. Really enjoyed the process.

The young people chose the theme as they want it to become a fun space but inclusive of adults. They chose games ‘old people’ grew up with, yet play themselves. Students associated the room with being in trouble or where parents went to discuss important matters with school. Here’s my playtime results:

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jay dee the isaac hayes of our time

it was sister45 who played this to me some time ago; A 40-piece orchestra interpreting jay-dilla’s music. project’s called suite for ma dukes. arranged by composer miguel atwood ferguson last year, it’s been a real treat to see the footage, watching orchestral members vibing, the conductor in his staccato shaking way keep it together. rip j-dilla.

100 Hour challenge

It’s been a month since I last updated you on this. Well, well, well, haven’t I been good! Wherever there is a piano, I is. I am practicing jazz standards and improvising. I’ve been averaging 2 hours a day and it has positively impacted upon my gigging, I got loads of compliments at Friday’s penultimate tour date, I felt loads more confident. No idea I suggested was rejected in terms of improv, however I was told to turn myself down, lol! Having regular lessons, and my teacher said in just 2 lessons I had improved considerably, yay!

Say, I’d practiced 1 hour a day for the last 4 weeks that would take me up to 89 hours on this old challenge, I know I’ve done more, but let’s just say I’ve done that 😉 We both know after 100 hours this aint gonna end, hooked.
I’m moving this week, so practice is on hold cos everything is being boxed up, but I’m keen to get back on the pedal!

Go me!

Paganel Home Week Project Session 4

I am shattered! These all dayers have taken their toll on my ‘approaching end of summer term’ bones.

Today’s session was good, fast paced, pressurised and exceptionally creative. It was our last session and we invited musicians Steve (djembe) and Michael (sax/flute). With year 3 we were able to put the finishes touches on the performance, move it over to the stage (which was something we were hoping to avoid initially but can’t). The year 3s were really good at instructing the musicians to fill out the accompanying music. It was great to see their compositional skills begin to blossom.

Year 4’s session, for me was more stressful, not because the young people weren’t great, they were and always have been, but because I was disappointed I couldn’t recall the piano part for the dog song – should have written it down, and that we still have some finishing touches to add next week, I hoped that like the year 3 session we could make more headways, but alas was not meant to be. Last minute dot.com so it is! I also felt guilty that I wasn’t able to utilise the musicians enough in that session, as we spent most the time devising last bits and bobs.

As Chris and Michael pointed out, the year 4 session itself was successful for a number of reasons,  the interminable enthusiasm from Mr. Harwood, who has volunteered to help us with the last drama part of the performance, the young people’s song writing, lyric writing skills getting stronger and the fact that everyone is committed to being a part of it all!

Michael, noted that the session had a huge emphasis on the young people’s creativity, which is great, because I’d rather more ideas from the young people and a slightly less polished performance, than me writing it all, and it appearing glossy, but less input from the children.

Fingers and toes crossed for our memory banks next week!

A groove we made up with year 4, it’s all about clouds: 

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Steve and I singing the year 3 song, so they can have it memorised for next week, there’s a reason why Steve and I aren’t singers, obvious in the recording, but someone has to do it!!

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Here you go year 3!!

Paganel Home Week Project Session 3

Today was the third session at Paganel school, the pressure was on to move the sketches/ short vignettes into something more meaningful and framed. After a quick warmer and explaining to the groups the skills we needed from them to take this forward (concentration, imagination, sharing of ideas and an openness to them), we shared again the sketches and asked young people from both groups how they’d piece them together, fusing the drama and music. We had some fantastic suggestions, year 3 in the morning had bundles of ideas, year 4 shared some amazing ideas too!

I found a lonely looking metallophone in the store room, tuned it to a minor scale so we could create dream like sounds. Has a really sonorous sound, really mellow, perfect for our opening scene.

Both year 3 and 4 teachers said they enjoyed the sessions, Ms. Wilson said she liked seeing how we made headways and I sense more comfortable about what the performance will look like. I tried loads to get Mr. Harwood leading the musicians, but due to time limitations and the complexity of the kids ideas, had to take over leading. I am really keen to play piano as well as getting the young people playing, but the need a strong pulse, maybe with the addition of musicians on Thursday it will allow for this. Highlight was writing a chorus and verse in 15 mins, it went well, Chris has displayed some excellent lyric writing skills. (A published poet didn’t you know?).

In terms of working in partnership with Chris, I feel it’s going really well, both have similar tricks up the sleeve and give one another space to lead, as well as opportunities to jump in with suggestions.

100 Hour Challenge Anyone?

I went along to a regional creative agent conference today and was inspired by Ewan McIntosh to do a 100 hour challenge, well in fact, I was initially inspired by Rachel Carter, who was inspired by Ewan (in a previous training event) to do it. Thing is, I’m uncertain as to whether I can do it because I work away from home a lot.

What is the 100 Hour Challenge? I quote Rachel Carter:

“Pick something about which you are passionate, which you have a deep desire to learn or to achieve yourself. It can be related to work or totally personal. Ideally it’s something you will share with the wider world. Practice, read up on, share your knowledge on your chosen challenge for at least one hour a day, every day, for 100 days.”

I want to improve my improvisation techniques, learn more about jazz scales, but that involves using a piano/keyboard. When I work in Brum I hardly have access… You’re meant to practice an hour a day. However, I can only practice when I’m near a piano. What’s a girl to do? Can I do the challenge as soon as I’m home in London? Am I creating ‘extraneous pillars’? Excuses? Can I do a slower version of it? Am I being lame? What do you think?