Just been along to the Pedal for Power party in Derby marketplace. What a great idea, music powered by bikes!
Thought it would be a good time to hand out a few flyers for the Rock & Pop Choir that’s starting at the VoiceBox tomorrow night! Just preparing a few songs/ warm-ups and ideas for the first FREE session tomorrow.
I know of at least one person who’s coming, so hopefully we’ll be able to do some 2 part harmonies!
If you’re in the Derby area and free, why not come along? Check back for updates on this NEW venture.
Or for more details, see the teaching & workshops page.
Hmm, I really should have taken a photo INSIDE the venue, as it really is a fantastic space, but if you don’t know the Voicebox in Derby this is what it looks like! There were some really excellent musicians playing on Sunday night, as well as some brilliant singers. The Voicebox website lists the evening as “vocal jazz with accompaniment from the house band, featuring pianist Greg Maskalick, drummer Tom Bland and saxophonist Jezz Smith”. Jezz wasn’t there this time, but Greg and Tom were joined by clarinet player Heather, who was a joy to watch as well as listen to. The clarinet just seemed to be an extension of her, and she moved about with great energy, effortlessly improvising through one jazz classic to the next. Ok, so I’m not a gig reviewer, but I enjoyed it and I got to play a few of my own compositions which seemed to be well received! The acoustics in that place are just lovely, although I had a mic, you really don’t have to try hard as the room just makes your voice sound about as sweet as it possibly could. Other singers included Dan Miller, who teaches there, as well as a couple of his students and friends; as well as my singing teacher Ann Miller, always a bit nerve-wracking knowing your teacher is listening, but with my own songs I at least feel on solid ground! So the atmosphere was informal, relaxed and with a high standard of musicianship, as well as a high standard of snacks .. pringles, strawberries & cream, chocolate flapjacks and fruit punch. Just a shame that I tend not to eat very much before I sing!
Another highlight was “Stormy Weather” played by flautist Chris (I seem to be bad at remembering surnames here), a young flute player with obvious talent. All in all a very enjoyable evening, and I’m looking forward to attending the next one, perhaps not singing so I can focus on the snacks a bit more. It’s on Sun 2 Dec, so I’m thinking mulled wine, shortbread, mince pies….
This year all but one of my students at Murray Park will be performing at the summer concert, which is great news. The summer concert is always an enjoyable event, it really showcases all the hard work students have put in during the year. And of course it’s great for me to see how much they’ve improved since last year. This will be my third summer concert at Murray Park, and it’s definitely one of my favourite things about teaching!
I’ll also be driving over to Alderwasley Hall School for their open day this weekend, where some of my students are performing. Again, it’ll be great to hear them playing piano and singing. As I started in September and haven’t seen them perform yet, it’s a great chance to see them in the limelight.
Last night was the performance of “Oh how that valley did change” at the Derby Assembly Rooms. This project was a collaboration between orchestral musicians from Sinfonia ViVA, folk musicians from Mills & Chimneys and Derbyshire poet laureate Matt Black. Students performed songs about Derbyshire’s heritage, in particular Arkwright’s Mill and the changes that brought about to local life – hence the title of this project! Students from Cromford and Crich Carr primary schools as well as Beckett and Griffe Field primary schools in Derby were involved in the mass choir and in writing their own songs.
I was helping with the compositional workshops with music students from Belper and Murray Park secondary schools. It was really good to be involved and to learn from other workshop leaders, such as Jack Ross from Sinfonia ViVA and Elly Lucas from the Mills & Chimneys ensemble. It’s always good to pick up new warm-up exercises, ways of encouraging students to compose, and also to hear compositions from other musicians. Both secondary school compositions were brilliant and I was so proud to see them perform. Murray Park’s dealt with the story of Repression-Rebellion-Freedom and Belper school wrote an instrumental piece about the story of the mill, “Life of the Working River”. The photo shows the musical chart for Belper school’s music, complete with a picture of the mill – clearly very important in the creative process!
Other links: Click on the links below for further information about the project, Sinfonia ViVA and Mills & Chimneys.
Sinfonia ViVA – Oh How That Valley Did Change – New Project Combines Folk & Classical Music
Belper News – Heritage is Songworthy
Watch how the Mills & Chimneys project came about on youTube
I’m currently recording an EP of 5 tracks with excellent sound engineer and musician Rob Bullock. Bright Spark and Mischief are already up on SoundCloud in a more basic format (listen here).
Although I’ve been playing for many years, I’ve never been quite happy with the quality of the recordings I’ve done. Previous recordings have either been DIY with a digital 8 track (remember zip disks anyone?) or at a friend’s house. These have had varying levels of clarity, some of my favourites being the tapes I recorded aged 16, and the tracks recorded by a Uni friend studying sound engineering. I came out sounding like a chipmunk, sorry if you’re reading this and know who you are! I think he’d just discovered compression, but it was just a tad too much. The early “albums” I recorded had such brilliant names as ‘Through the Web’ and ‘They Call This Life On Planet Earth”. 1997 was a very productive year…
So this will be my first sensible and proper grown-up recording.
It’s the first recording that I can actually enjoy listening to and smile, and not in an amused “oh yeah that’s next doors dog barking” kind of way.
I feel somewhat behind compared to my compadres and peers, I’ve always had a slight envy towards musicians who on writing a few songs immediately decide to record them as a demo and release them in to the wild.
I suppose I’m trying to get past the point where I think the music has to be perfect before releasing it. I mean, I’m gonna try and get it as near as humanly possible with the resources available, but when you’re juggling freelance work, exams, gigs, career development and want to have a social life it’s perhaps not realistic to expect the finished EP to have the joy and precision of Stevie Wonder, the soaring vocal acrobatics of Kate Bush, and to sell 40million copies. I just want to be pleased to play it to someone else and feel that it’s a fair representation of my talents.
So watch out for the release some time in 2016!
Just a short post today, link to an interview I did for Hatch’d magazine about the upcoming Pennyfest gig in June.
An update on the past few months…
This has involved a couple of gigs, Saldergate Sessions were particularly fun and I was introduced to the wonders of having not one but two TVs in the dressing room. I’ve not even had a dressing room before so that was exciting! Ahem..
I’ve stumbled upon the informative and stylish Hatch’d magazine, a website for creatives in Derbyshire, and attended a networking evening at the Quad. It was definitely good to meet and chat to other creative types, although my discourse around illustration or puppetry is severely lacking! I’ve also been to a couple of conferences around the topic of “Children in Challenging Circumstances”. This covers a whole host of issues including poverty, mental health or learning difficulties, family issues and crime. I think music has an important role to play in children’s lives, and can be a positive influence when they may be surrounded by challenging circumstances. It definitely made me think of expanding the work I do with young people in the future.
What else then? I stepped in for Kaleidoscope Community Choir at the beginning of March, just a one off but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Having had my teaching placement with them last year it was great to see a few familiar faces, and also have a great laugh together and sing some wonderful songs. I think my favourite was Tourdion, a rousing French drinking song in four parts by Pierre Attaingnant.
I’m also excited to be involved with a project run by Sinfonia VIVA and the Mills & Chimneys musicians based in Derbyshire. More on this later, but I will be helping with some song-writing workshops with secondary school children leading to a performance at the Assembly Rooms in Derby in June.
Of course, there’s been the usual individual tuition ticking along steadily, and I’ve had a few new students. I’m really pleased that a few more students are keen to take exams, because I think they will really appreciate having something to show for all their hard work and efforts. I’m also still trying to encourage them to prepare for performance, thinking ahead to the summer concert! But I’ve also recently started an open mic on Monday lunchtimes at Murray Park, which is slowly gaining performers wanting to showcase their talents. Brilliant!
So, hence why I’ve not updated this blog since January! Happy new year indeed… 🙂
Those of you Death Cab for Cutie fans will probably be singing the next part of this tune…
The song basically concerns itself with not feeling any different just because it’s a new year. I would usually agree, but this year I do feel different. It’s hard not to when there’s so much to look forward to!
The Singing for Pleasure group is running again, I’m now teaching piano as well as singing and thoroughly enjoying it. Still keen to record an EP of some sort this year, however for one reason or another that’s taken a bit of a backseat currently. I may have to record some new stuff on Soundcloud just as a rough idea. I’ve been furiously writing new songs over the past few months. I think it comes from learning more Bach on the piano, he gets the creative juices going.
Also very much enjoying playing with a covers band in Nottingham. Formed mainly to play at friends’ weddings, I’m enjoying singing without having to focus on an instrument too. Also it’s fun to sing in German, do some rapping, sing like a man and sing blithely about economical downturns. If you want specifics, let me know…
Ooh, also, gig coming up on the 4th February at the Bookcafe in Derby. I will be playing alongside the extremely talented Delicata who I’ve played alongside at the Quad. Particularly enjoy their version of “Heard it Through the Grapevine” and their own song “Waltzing Away“, joyous and sublime…
So, I made a promise on facebook that if I got up to 100 likes before Christmas that I would make a cheesy video complete with Christmas jumper. And it worked! I got a response and this was the result.
Although I’ve previously put a couple of videos on Youtube, this was my first attempt at something a bit more creative. Well, perhaps I should just stick to the music eh?
It was partly inspired by the Rocky Mountain National Park in winter. Not that I’ve ever been, but for some reason it seemed the right setting for it.