Daytime concerts?

Ancient and Modern: Compton meets Yamaha

Yesterday I was playing in East Devon. The organ club there have, for the winter season, held their meetings during the afternoon rather than the cold dark evenings. I asked if it had affected their attendance one way or another, and the answer was 'no'. The artists must have enjoyed it though, being able to play a concert and get home again on the same day. We made the round trip in 13 hours, and had the pleasure of sleeping in our own house for a change.

Another music club I have been talking with has been running additional teatime concerts (complete with naughty but nice cakes). They tell me these food-centred events have attracted larger audiences, and quite a lot of new faces. Do you have a view on the best time of day for a concert? And do you think having food combined with music makes a big difference? Please do use the contact link on this site to share your opinions.

Today's photo shows the 'jelly mould' illuminated sides from an old Compton organ (probably 70+ years old) which the East Devon club sandwiched round my instrument (just 6 months old). The words 'Ancient & Modern' spring to mind. It was a very colourful addition to my usual stage set-up!


Weedon Music is launched!

Welcome to my first article since the launch of Weedon Music.

What’s on the site so far?

As a musician, I’m obviously including two things which are the bread and butter of my working life – concerts and recordings.

I’m delighted to have returned to performing after a long break, following my stupid accident (yep, I got whiplash after I ran into the back of a car – not whilst driving my car, but on my two feet whilst practising for a quarter marathon!) I already have 26 engagements for the coming year. You can see the list if you click here. I really hope you will be able to get along to one which is near you – it would be lovely to see you.

And what do performing musicians mention at their concerts as the interval draws near? Why, their recordings of course. These are their icing on the cake, the bit that fills the tank for those long trips to and from the venues. But we also hope they serve as a happy reminder of a concert you’ve enjoyed. And now you can download mine on your computer in addition to the tried and tested mail order. To coincide with the launch of this site, I have issued my new album, Walking Back to Happiness! Just click here to listen to the samples. If you’ve never done this before and need a bit of help, don’t hesitate to get in touch!


Are lessons as good as they were?

So, I'm showing my age here, but when I sat for my music 'O' level I felt I had really learned something in the previous two years. I had a good working knowledge of music theory, a rounded idea of music history (at least for the prescribed period anyway), and a love of the pieces we had been asked to study - Verdi's Requiem, Corelli's Christmas Concerto and some of the piano works of John Ireland. We weren't asked to perform or compose anything, which was a pity, but if that had been a requirement I think we'd have possessed the basic tool kit to do it.

My pupils who are studying for GCSE music seem to have a potentially more exciting syllabus, with far-reaching aims (including that performance and composition I lacked). But they tell me that they are in a fog about (a) what is required of them, (b) when it's required by and (c) how they are meant to achieve it. The continuous assessment element of the course means that they are taken by surprise when 'deadlines' are announced, often just a few hours away. And although they are handed factsheets about music theory it seems they have not actually heard any of these theoretical points as sound. How can you understand a rhythm if no-one has ever played it to you? How can you understand the pitching of notes on the stave if you've never been shown how to sing it? How can you perform when the school has no facilities for instrumental teaching? And how can you compose when the only tool you are given is a baffling and expensive computer programme and no actual coaching?

I'd love to hear from you about your experiences. If you're a teacher or student, can you reveal to me the answers to my worries?


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