Week 6 & 7: 100 Hr Challenge


Day 1: Fail, still in Brumtee, spoke to mi ma about secretly moving my piano from the old house to the new (behind Pa’s back), we’ll see, he doesn’t really do Internet btw.
Day 2: Fail still in Brum, social media workshop, helping these cherubs become digital journalists.
Day 3: Fail, still in Brum exhausted, chilling with my baby
Day 4: Mediasnackers training/CPD, still in Brum
Day 5: Back in Londungeon, practice for an hour
Day 6: Practice for a couple of hours, start with some Bach, Debussy and then chords, training myself to play chords as quickly as possible
Day 7: Didn’t manage to fit any in. Booo! But I contacted a jazz pianist for lessons

Week 7:
Monday: Practiced for a few hours, still getting my head round playing chords automatically.
Tuesday: Chris D came round and we jammed around compositional ideas.
Wednesday: Had a lesson with my new teacher and learnt loads!!
Thursday: Been practicing, properly
Friday – Sunday: Doubt I’ll get a chance back in Brum.

Someone asked me 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.”

This week will take me to the 49th hour.

Week 5: 100 Hour Challenge


Day 1: Fail
Day 2: Fail
Day 3: Fail
Day 4: Fail
Day 5: Fail
Day 6: Fail
Day 7: Fail

Summer workshops all day last week. In Brum. I suck. Yes, I do. I’d come home and want to sleep, but had planning and preparation to do. When I’m near my keyboard nothing will stop me. Sing it!

100 Hour Challenge: Week Four

Day 1: Practiced and wrote music with fellow workshoppers for half a day, spent the other half playing jazz standards for a few hours, really slowly, still practicing the same two, sounding better!
Day 2: Wrote music again with matees, one hour of practice.
Day 3: Practiced, learning chords and listening to what they sound like
Day 4: 1 hour in the bag.
Day 5: Back In Brum, fail. Was given a chord chart to play from (for a devising session) by a jazzer and panicked. I could identify most chords, but not as quickly as I would have liked, if the chords were notated, would have been fine. Felt crap and wanted to go home.
Day 6: Back in Brum, all day training and drinks after. Fail.
Day 7: Back in Brum, no piano, anxious to practice. Still hours in the day but suspect I shall fail.

🙁 So, rather than feel sorry for myself, going to spend the next hours finding a piano here. Time to make it happen. I saw this TED talk by Mr. Steve “Apple” Jobs, it inspired me to carpe diem, how to live before you die.

100 Hour challenge: Third week

Hmmmm…

Day 1: Practiced for two hours
Day 2: Practiced for an hour
Day 3: Back in Birmingham, no practice
Day 4: Nada
Day 5: Nada
Day 6: Nada
Day 7: Nada

Hmmm think I failed there. I did read up on stuff but… few ebonies and ivories were tinkled last week! On the plus side, whenever I am home I practice. I asked a local Birmingham church whether I could practice there, thanks to Clare Edwards, but the times available clashed. Gonna do more Brum based piano hunting.

100 Hour challenge: Second week

Day 9: Practiced for two hours, worked through 2-5-1s randomly. Tried to improvise over them, sounded pants!

Day 10: Went to Rachel’s after workshopping all day, got lost, took ages to get there so was tired and hungry, played through scales, and tried to improvise, felt a tad exposed and embarrassed playing knowing Ms. Carter was listening but got through it. Was rewarded with Rachel’s home grown cherries, yum!

Day 11: Nada, all day workshops, planning, emails, tired. Fail

Day 12: Nada. See above

Day 13: Fail. All day workshops.

Day 14: Fail. Read a bit about jazz theory but no playing.

I’m not worried, when I’m near a piano and not working, I’m practicing, as I’ve been working in Brum so much, there’ve been fewer chances to play.

100 Hour Challenge: Days 4 – 8


I spoke to my mum about my old piano (given to me at childhood); currently covered in cobwebs and black bags (don’t ask), but the easiest option was to use my fella’s MIDI controller attached to Garageband, couldn’t be bothered to pair up with Logic, wanted a less heavy DAW, a basic piano sound was desired.

Some of the notes didn’t work, but it still helped me to tinkle away. I feel loads more confident about modes, I over intellectualised something quite simple. I played through several modes in each key, mainly dorian and lydian, it helped a lot. Apparently every scale can be made into a series of chords.

Day 5: No practice, no excuse really, as the lovely Rachel said I could use her piano, but ran out of time to arrange this, however I spent some time learning about self-marketing.  Still a fail!

Day 6: Friday, all day workshops with a 6am start, had a little time to jam on the piano with Chris Bishop (see Paganel project), but failed again as I jumped on a train straight after to London. I saw the amazing blues, ngoni maestro Bassekou Kouyate perform at the Barbican, the music was amazing, crowd were dull – hardly any dancing! Booo! Bassekou’s improvising is amazing, his music show’s the origins of blues music and has an amazing stage presence. His wife has a beautiful voice, such power and playfulness! Loved it.

Day 7: Spent 3 hours practicing which included a chat with composer Sid Peacock about jazz theory. I went through progressions, realised I got some chords wrong, went through 2-5-1s again. I realised I had been confusing myself with trying to work out which scales to use, and relying too much on the key signatures. I’m getting better at spotting 2-5-1s in pieces, which means I know what initial scale to use, although there are plenty more to explore; baby steps.

Some great pointers from Sid were, practice with a metronome accenting beats 2 and 4, play 2-5-1s in a random order, get a teacher, check the improvisation primer and not get to bogged down with theory to start with, noodle. Thank you Sid!

Day 8: Using the advice from Sid, created 12 scraps of paper for each key, picked one randomly and practiced 2-5-1s.

Played through “Tune Up”, chords mainly and worked out how to play chords and melody. Tried to improvise, it sounded okay, but a bit dry. Need me some licks! Then played through some other pieces including yesterdays. All good, the louder I play the more confidence I get, but that’s the problem, I’m worried about disturbing my neighbours, so am quite timid. “Headphones”! I hear you exclaim, yes, I will use ’em next time. Wounded that I’ll be away from my keys for another week! I must get better at finding a piano in Brum!

100 Hour Challenge – I’ve Picked up the Gauntlet

Alright then, I’m doing it. It’s been on my mind for a while.

This is how I’m going to tackle the not being at home barrier to improvisation learning; finding pianos in Brum, asking some local residential homes if I can pop in, practice and play to the elderly, asking my old church, friends who don’t mind me popping round. I’ll also read up on scales/theory or transcribe jazz solos for the hour too! I’ll also arrange a few lessons with people. Who shall I ask? Any jazzers wanna give me some pointers?

So improvisation it is, I might even do something really scary! Sign myself up for some jams, none of those scary jazz ones, where everyone has studied standards at uni, but more obscure ones. Gulp! I’ll need a drink or two or three!!

An hour a day, an hour for play!

Music Learning 2008

Music learning live 2008 kicked off yesterday in Gateshead and so far I have not managed to find one weblog or website that gives a brief synopsis of the day’s findings. An interactive section would have done the world of good- where music teachers and community musicians could comment on how the day progressed.

It is meant to be a festival that brings together music practitioners and educators from informal and formal settings as well as a mammoth professional development event and I desperately wanted to go. Unfortunately I had workshops to deliver- sniffle.

It also doesn’t come cheap; at £175 for a day and up to £395 for the whole thing- ouch! The Classroom of the Future session looked exciting- it’s definitely time more traditional music educators cast aside their fears and embrace the wealth of opportunity music tech offers.

So, if anyone has attended please get in touch, I would love to hear about it.

Sound Sense Training for BMEs

Sound sense– a UK agency for community music, have what looks like a really good training event focusing on maketing and promotion for BME workers.

At last year’s event there was a debate about ancestry; whether one’s cultural heritage should be used as a marketing tool and its relevance to how you should present yourself.

Networking, Marketing and Business Models

The bane of my life- marketing and self-promotion-I exaggerate a little, but how I loathe it so! When I first started out as a free lancer- 3 out of 5 cold calls were fruitful- luck or chance or whatever you may call it helped me along my path; but now it’s proving much more difficult.

I really hate cold calling, I detest having to wear the sales person hat- I feel needy, vulnerable and very desperate.
I know a few community musicians who aren’t keen on project management or the administrative side; so simply rely on the demand from arts organisations for workshops- and that is something I am keen to do less of. My cash flow won’t allow for that…

However, by sending out a few emails and drawing from the extensive experience of a fellow community musician/mentor called Pete- I have been introduced to some key contacts- thank you very muchly!

This month, I shall be given advice about writing a business model thanks to Business Link!

I have also had a few meetings with influential arts people simply asking for advice and the low down on funding/ the direction of the arts. By showing my face around and being able to explain in person what I am about; more work is starting to trickle in! Yay! Lesson learnt!