Tapeworm

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There was an opportunity to compose a one page score for top ensemble Noszferatu as part of Frontiers Festival. I was mad busy working/writing essays/finishing other pieces and had resigned myself to not being able to do so. However, when I spotted my name down on the list, I thought I’d rise to the challenge anyway.

I wanted to further explore my interest in parasitic relationships.
The relationship between a flatworm parasite and snails was intriguing, the fact it became almost like a zombie  was curious. I wanted to find a way to explore the imbalance. One idea starts with a lot and is stripped bear, the other multiplies and grows at the expense of the former. Non-mutual symbiotic relationships.

As a title I thought ‘Flatworm’ sounded a bit dry, so opted to entitle the piece ‘Tapeworm’, another parasite, sounds cooler, and it connected to a piano piece ‘Tick’ I had written earlier – which explored the same idea in a slightly different way.

You can have a listen here
Many thanks to top musicians Finn Peters, Joel Bell, Ivo de Greef and Percy Pursglove!

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.

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:

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

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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!

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 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?