Snapshots of 2013 - NaJoPoMo2013 Day 9
Posted Nov 9, 2013
For the last 7 years or more, my spare time has been filled with reading text books, writing essays and attending tutorials - not to mention listening to, analysing and writing music as part of my studies with the Open University.
This year it finally paid off as I completed my final module and was able to claim my BA in Humanities with Music, with upper second class honours. Whether or not I use my new qualification in future career moves, I have learned a huge amount about a subject I'm genuinely interested in, I've been exposed to an enormous range of music I wouldn't otherwise have heard and finally, after a lifetime of active musicianship I actually have a degree with the word 'Music' in the title.
Not wanting to miss out on a chance to dress up and drink bubbly, I was happy to attend the degree ceremony at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall. My academic robes were trimmed with light blue and gold, very nice but not a patch on the sparkly gold trimmed robe of the vice chancellor who did a grand job of welcoming each graduate enthusiastically onto the stage for a handshake and a moment of applause to celebrate the achievement. Took a long time to get here but I think it was worth all the effort
Snapshots of 2013 - NaJoPoMo2013 day 8
Posted Nov 8, 2013
It's an odd thing really that although I'm actually a pretty decent classical guitar player, it's the fun little 4 string uke that more people have heard me play. Even with that it's the strumming singalong approach that usually gets heard outside my own house, not the complicated finger-picking that I practice more within the safety of my own house. This is particularly true when it comes to performing solo. For whatever reason, I just don't enjoy playing solo in public - in spite of the encouragement, cajoling and bullying employed by those around me. The more the merrier though and the biggest musical collaberation this year was joining in a huge guitar orchestra, performing a specially written piece with the Aquarelle Guitar Quartet in no less venue than the main stage at Manchester's fantastic Bridgewater Hall. Great fun, great sound, great performance space. A real musical highlight of 2013.
Snapshots of 2013 - NaJoPoMo day 7
Posted Nov 7, 2013
Playing uke and singing with the old folks has piqued my interest in Music Therapy so I booked myself on an introductory session at the RNCM to hear more. Presentations and discussions followed, a recommended reading list was handed round. Some demonstrations were given of musical techniques used and we had a hands on practice at improvising together and responding to each other.
Some short videos of actual therapy sessions were shown, demonstrating what happens in a one-to-one session and how clients can benefit.
One was very familiar to me, a lady with dementia suddenly coming back to herself and singing a favourite song, full of animated musicality and briefly recovering her exuberant personality.
Others were young clients with severe physical problems. One young girl initially just made frustrated table banging noises which were used by the therapist as prompts ie he played a chord on the piano every time she banged, responding to the intensity of her noises. The astounded look on her face when she realised she was in control of something was a delight. The video from another session some months later showed her transformed into a confident, happy little girl pecking at the keyboard with the therapist weaving music around her contributions. The rest of her life was no doubt just as frustrating but for these sessions she was a fully integrated and active participant.
Snapshots of 2013 - NaJoPoMo2013 day 6
Posted Nov 6, 2013
There's something about uke players that makes them seek gangs to roam with, safety in numbers perhaps or reassurance that this is a respectable instrument, honest guv. Feeling this urge for myself, I googled for local clubs and eventually found an apparently active one half an hour's drive away in Stockport. The other week I steeled myself for disappointment, took uke in hand and went off to investigate club night.
I arrived at the door of a large suburban pub, full of obvious locals and a karaoke night in the function room. Unable to back off without at least having a quick half, I asked where the uke players had gone to. He gave me a knowing grin and directed me upstairs, with the promise "there's lots of them up there".
Up the creaky stairs, past the empty store room to a heavy door across the landing. Barging into the room, the strumming and singing got louder and I discovered 40 or more uke players having a noisy run through of the set for the weekend gig at a food festival in town. The next gig was at a local beer festival. Hope they're not taking this too seriously. I may have to go again to find out.
Snapshots of 2013 - NaJoPoMo2013 day 5
Posted Nov 5, 2013
This little instrument has got me to places I otherwise wouldn't have gone.
For example, this year's Wychwood Festival at Cheltenham racecourse had a 'uke' discount on tickets. The locally based GB uke festival people were running beginner's workshops at Wychwood and wanted to encourage as many players as possible to come along, join in the fun and busk with the Ukulele Orchestra of GB, to warm them up for their main stage slot. Afterwards we all joined in the festival parade as a roving gang of uke strummers, repeating 'You are my sunshine' over and over until the parade returned to base. An enjoyable afternoon, but I never want to hear that song in mass strum formation again!