Soulful Summer

Just completed a week of workshops for THSH and UFA, project was called Soulful summer.
I helped facilitate sessions based mainly on developing young people’s composition skills. I was blown away by the young people’s ideas and good vibes. Some of the feedback I got was great, and was nice to see some of the younger participants’ confidence really grow!

Here’s some audio:

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.


Safari Life: written in a day, based on a drum ostinato played in an improvised ostinato exercise I always use.

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.


Our version of Summer Time, I led the rhythm section, or they led me lol! Huw lead horns, Shereece led the singers.

Thanks to Katy G and Jan P for their assistance and support!

………….Only a few more days to go before I get some time off to develop my own creativity, yay!

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’

Time to learn guitar

Hey bobablog readers!

Hope you are well and sun-kissed, the weather has been great! I implore Mother Nature to give us more of the same during the May – August months!! It’s been a wee while since I have blogged and so, here I am. Rather than bore you to death with a long-winded post, I’ll try and keep it succinct, I have:

• composed music for Uchenna Dance – and learnt loads about working with dancers, how many bars they work in, inspiration from movement; still got a ways to go, but onwards and upwards

• two thirds the way through “Banded About project”, developing my ensemble leading skills – highlight was working with ‘Fusion Warriors’ at Wilkes Green primary school, what a cool name they chose! Got some feedback from my lil uns at Watville Primary:

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.


(bored because she wanted to play a different instrument, I asked afterwards…)

• still working on my small business and the marketing side, ideally I want a balanced mix of composing/workshopping and playing work, getting there – marketing c’est roi.

• been enjoying reading Keri Smith books; ‘This is Not a Book‘, is cool, I enjoyed ripping out a page whilst on the bus, at it told me to, the person sat next to me looked scared!

• learning loads about my natural hair – sensitive at times, militant and proud the next. I hated the comment ‘Have you combed your hair today?”, I liked the comment “Go on, empress!” – yes I am a nubian queen, Bobbie, Kemetian queen of Hackney!

• Oh, and, I am looking for any interesting programmes for musicians/composers/artists – I need me some more CPD, if you hear of any lemme know 🙂

• I’m going to learn guitar as recommended by Pete Churchill from Balsall Heath to benefit workshopping.

Actually this blog post is still quite long… What can I say? I lied!

Happy New Year!

Hope the teenies are a good one for you my loyal blog readers.
2009 has been a great year, there have been trials and tribulations and euphoric moments too. I have met some amazing people, loads of creatives.

Moving to London has been good fun, I like the sense of adventure and push it really gives you. When it stops being fun I shall leave.

Highlights were composing for a chamber orchestra, directing a practitioner ensemble for Banded About (loads of esteemed classical/jazz musicians who were really complimentary), already blagging gigs in London, playing in various ensembles and leaving dodgy ones – (I experienced some interesting interactions with weird/egotistical musos, suppose us note bashers are all a lil strange), and developing my skills as a community musician.

Aims for this year are to be self-discplined and to drink more water. What are yours?

Down Your Way – Castle Vale High

I had a wonderful session working with year seven students from Castle Vale High School last Friday, it was a chance for us all the bond, learn about the project aims and do some rhythm/pulse exercises. I was really impressed with how quickly the students were able to recognise and play different patterns from our sound bank.

We even had time to loop three phrases which were framed by their music teacher and artistic director Dave Howard with some groovy guitar riffs. You can listen here:

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.