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.

CBSO Planets Creative Project

I have been working with students from Holyhead School over the last 2 weeks to compose songs inspired by Holst’s The Planets. All students went to a CBSO performance of it a few weeks ago, this was our composition stimuli. At the start of the workshops I gave participants the option to compose about planets in our solar system or make up a completely fictional one.

All opted for the later but two groups kept the astronomical names. We had some truly imaginative creations. The most popular planet was Venus- turned into a romantic, mystical place, other creations were Blue -Ray, Stardust and Stardonia. I shall upload music next week.

It was truly an educational experience, I have always wanted to work with the CBSO, I joined the CBSO Youth Chorus when it first formed and was always blown away when taking part in colossal works by great classical composers such as Mahler, Britten and Orff . Being a part of such a prestigious and virtuous music group inspired me to practice several hours a day; I wanted to be a classical musician during most of my teenage-hood.

It has been great working with an orchestral member and having the guidance and support from someone who performs on a regular basis. Mark Goodchild helped guide the young people through performance skills and tricks of the professional trade.

We were also given the task of mentoring local primary school students; we had an intense 6 hr day to bond, pass on skills and get everyone’s performances ready for the big day at Town Hall. We are going to showcase our work this Wednesday 18th June- 6:30pm- how exciting!!

I have to give a big mention to Ms.Georgiou who was instrumental in the coordination of the project and dived straight in! She helped the students with their pieces as best she could and was a really positive force. I have delivered a fair amount of workshops- (well I think), and teacher’s attitude towards them differs quite a lot!! Sometimes gentle coercion of support staff sees them getting stuck in and having a laugh, yet unfortunately it can result in some busy bees lurking further at the back of the room/catching up with work; which is a real shame.

It’s always good for students to see their teachers getting involved and having fun. It inspires confidence and motivates. Some students may even think to themselves: “Well, if my teacher is prepared to look a tool, well maybe I might then….”

Creative Networks – Performance, innovation and all that Jazz

Tonight, I went along to Creative Networks, I really enjoyed myself!

Soweto Kinch was tonight’s guest speaker; whilst he was talking I turned round and saw how enthralled his audience were, they became putty in his jazz hands (sorry couldn’t help myself), but seriously, the smiles and grins I witnessed!- wow!

He is an excellent public speaker and very inspiring, self-assured but not at all arrogant. I first heard him play at the mac when he had just released his first album; I went out to buy it the following day. Release it on vinyl!! Vinyl!!!!

For me, the key messages to take away were:

  • As an artist one should always be true to their passions and self
  • Digital technology is an important tool that enables and allows for democracy
  • If you are truly passionate about your art form/creativity just get on with it

I was also really inspired by a lady called Tracy whom I met on the stairs; she was such an enthusiastic, amazing spirit and kindly shared some funny tales. I received some good networking tips too, cos I suck! Self-belief, self-belief!

Soweto also announced a Hockley Flyover, (Aston) music project that will happen on 31st May featuring top class artists such as TY as well as budding musicians from Birmingham showcasing their compositions.

At the end, I got into a bit of a chat with Mr. Kinch about education, it is good to see that he is giving his music knowledge and skills back to his local community.

I was a tiny, tiny, bit jealous that some well connected big wig, seemed to basically offer Soweto the (seemingly) immediate chance to work in loads of Birmingham Schools, when the Brum school database I am compiling has been a laborious task of cold calls, meetings and networking. If only I had such appeal, oh and virtuosity playing jazz scales- sigh!

So what am I going to do? What have I been thinking about but not doing?

  • Will try and sort an afternoon for a few schools and community centres to have taster workshops from local community musos, inspired by Music Leader’s Market Place idea that has take a bit of a back burner.
  • Do some more training in music technology- get me some more skillz
  • Do some more composing and stop using the excuse that I haven’t got a new copy of Sibelius to do so!! I have manuscript paper and pencils too!
  • Play music more- how did I go from practicing 4 hrs a day to nuttin’? Does anyone hate keyboards like I do? Pianos make me want to practice! Can you buy me one please?
  • Stop being a hermit and go to more gigs! Although- I went to the Glee club yesterday and got roped into seeing Nizlopi– I lasted 10 minutes. I prefer the Counting Crows and my beat boxing separate thanks!