Summertime sum up

IMG_1916

What beautiful weather! A year ago, I met a Swedish lady in London (on the bus I think), who said the main reason she decided to stay in the UK was down to the summer of ’76. She told me she had been longing ever since for another glorious summer like that to return. Maybe her wait is over….

Anyway, I feel it is time to update you with the world of Bobalon.

Continue reading “Summertime sum up”

Respek Vanley: Music Workshops 2 and 3 plus updates

Today’s workshop was great! 4 sessions to go before the big day!
There is no shortage of energy with this group, loads of personalities and ideas. I’d definitely describe this group as like an over-excited puppy, wanting to greet every passer-by with a nuzzle.

Continue reading “Respek Vanley: Music Workshops 2 and 3 plus updates”

Sketchisimo

What do you get if you cross a dodgy keys player, midi sounds, Logic Pro, an hour, excessive listening of Ravel and afrosounds?

A musical sketch which sounds like this: 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  (my bounces always end abruptly for this blog).

I know weird ennit. Gonna use it for Uchenna methinks, just so much tidying to do. Couldn’t resist the use of whole-tone scales. The oboe loop sounds wrong, will fixup. The beat underneath is gonna be a sampled kitchen appliance, or a heart beat; simply a guide for the moment. The hunt for live strings is on!

a little reverb on the snare

Today’s sketch, i love playing with midi!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

A little dubsteppy, bass line needs work.

100 Hour Challenge


Still at it, but not blogging about it as much, I tell no lie. I’ve a ritual, breakfast eaten means time to practice. Why are rituals important?
I quote Mark McGuinnesss:

“”You’ll think it’s silly but” is one of the most common phrases I hear from clients when they describe their working habits. Lucky gonks, magic pens, warmup rituals and bizarre superstitions are remarkably, and among creative people – and for good reason. The neuroscientists are now confirming what we creatives knew all along – that these things act as ‘triggers’ for the emotional state in which we do our best creative work.”

Thank you Mark!

Had a few months off due to dislocating my finger, but back on the wagon even if my finger is misshappen.
Really enjoying this jazz course by Monsieur Richards, had a couple of lessons with him too! An ace teacher, learnt loads

Finger is still dodgy and finally got referred to an orthopaedic clinic! My swollen joint will be inspected tomorrow! Yay!

Arts in a Cold Climate

This came through my inbox. If I wasn’t working in the capital I’d be all over this.

Arts in a cold climate: Should we all jump into bed together?
Date: 29th November, Time: 12-2pm, Location: Birmingham Hippodrome, Thorp Street, Pinsent
Masons Suite. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. Funding bodies are signalling that
collaborative working across the arts will be a key to all our futures. This event will explore the
possibilities for closer working to improve efficiency and enhance creativity. Is collaboration the
answer? Please join us to discuss current initiatives and future possibilities.
Please RSVP to carolinedavis@birminghamhippodrome.com by 21 November.

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!

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.

Inspired by Kelechi Amadi Obi

“We can’t keep whining about our situation, the art of whining just makes you a victim, and I’m saying, once you believe your a victim then you can’t fight back, but if you believe in victory then you can win!”

Preach it!

Kelechi Amadi Obi vs Keziah Jones from Joel Benson on Vimeo.

Found via @ Black Nerds Network

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!

Banded About – C’est Fini

It’s all over and done with! Today was the final concert date at Town Hall for the Banded About project, we made it! It was emotional, it was sad, it was tiring, fun and creative.

I was soo impressed with the young people at Watville, Wilkes Green and St. James primary schools over the year. This term, we (Steve and I repping Birmingham Jazz) were given such a tall order yet I feel we delivered the goods; I learnt that most of the other primary schools in the music hub (Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Sound It Out, CBSO, THSH) were able to give their schools weekly and some around 8 sessions per term, to develop ensemble and music making skills. In total I had 5 sessions in the spring term, and 3 in the summer, yes 3, which meant we had a mammoth job to do, devise, rehearse and perform at the Town Hall after 4.5 hours, minus ice-breakers, and packing away and you’re left with little time I tell thee, yet we managed to do it. I was proud of the fact the young people devised lyrics before the project, rehearsed outside of lessons, and after a scary sound check on the day after a week’s break, pulled it off!! Go gang!! There were tears, I got told off, necessary hugs were given and received.

In just 8 sessions I found that the young people’s time keeping, ability to improvise and create grooves improved exponentially, I was also impressed with how a teacher got stuck in the project and played recorder on stage with the kids!! How supportive is that!

Areas of improvement: I need to work more on varying my signalling, I wish I had the funds to go on a ensemble leading course, yes, another one, for intermediate workshoppers, I also need to think about using different time signatures, I’ve been using compound time more recently, but haven’t written many pieces in 3/4, I did use 5/4 with some secondary kids last term…. anyho! Onwards and upwards!

Highlights of the project for me were: working with amazing individuals at the aforementioned schools! Thanks young peeps, you rocked my world!

What would have made my life easier on this project: less emailing and more tete a tete (please), meetings with admins and the whole of the team so we could there could be greater consistency across the cluster, more efforts made to incorporate workshop leaders who don’t read music in CPD sessions too, some of my team felt a bit left out.

Here is some media for ya from our rehearsals,courtesy of my iPhone,  you can hear me shouting, teachers getting stuck in lol! I think you can hear an improvement in each school’s pieces.

First piece St. James composed: 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Second piece by St. James, with some recorder playing by Ms. Hanson: 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Watville’s first composition: 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Second piece by Watville (second rehearsal): 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Banded About ‘the first year’ from Mathew Beckett on Vimeo.


Find more photos like this on ‘Banded About’

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: 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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!!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Here you go year 3!!