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Weedon’s Wanderings: 3rd May 2020

YouTube image

BUSY BUSY!

I’ve got completely into the grip of my video-editing programme. It might be argued I’m enjoying it too much, if my latest offering is anything to go by! Having received a request to upload my version of ‘Do the Hustle’ to YouTube, I set about producing a video to go with it which would reproduce the excitement of disco lighting. So, before you watch, have a pair of sunglasses handy.

Do the Hustle is Van McCoy’s one big hit, but I reckon it’s the best disco track ever produced. Whether you feel like some cheery music or you’re planning a workout, click here and see if you can keep your feet still. I know I can’t!

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Weedon’s wanderings: 29th April 2020

A short stroll from our house

A WORK IN PROGRESS

First and foremost, I sincerely hope this finds you well. When last I wrote, the havoc that a virus could cause was news from across the other side of the globe. Since it landed on our soil, how life has changed!

It really shifts one’s priorities, doesn’t it? I must admit being in lockdown causes me no problems at all. My siblings, being older than me, had left for university before I first set foot in school. We lived in the countryside, so I grew up in a solitary sort of way, enjoying our acre of wild woods and weeds. I guess that’s why I now feel entirely at home in our Forest abode. We’re fortunate that we can open our front door and walk for miles without encountering more than one or two souls. We regularly bike 5 or 6 miles without seeing traffic too. I decided to let this bucolic peace take me over for a few weeks and see where I ended up.

Well, I’ve ended up with Music for Good - as opposed to music for money. Where’s the point in slogging away on a business venture when  something like this can wipe it out in weeks? Much better to just make my catalogue of recordings and compositions freely available, and earn pleasure from knowing they’re out there and hopefully being enjoyed. I also have some ideas for on-line tuition which will be fun to develop without the constraints of deadlines and break-evens.

This won’t be a quick job, but I shall steadily put my recorded tracks up on YouTube with suitable videos. I have a few charities that I’m very keen on, so if anyone feels moved to make a little donation to any of them once in a while, that will be great. I’m aiming to upload selections which are suitable for sending you off to sleep. And selections which set the feet tapping and are maybe useful for exercising too.

My printed music will be available, free of charge, on the web too. I’ve already written lots of pieces for exam boards and magazines. I’ve also been heavily involved in writing ballads, folk songs and worship songs which you may like to try. All, I hope, Music for Good - good health, good causes and good spirits.

As a taster, I’ve made my recording of Moonlight Sonata available on YouTube. Click here to view it. And I’d be really pleased to hear from you with your reactions to my offerings. I want to make this music which you’ll enjoy - for good!

 

 

 

 

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Weedon’s Wanderings: 12th February 2020

Me on a bike

LIKE RIDING A BIKE

I wonder how many times in my life, I’ve heard this lament: “I had some piano lessons as a kid, but if I sat down at one now I couldn’t play a note! I just didn’t appreciate then what a wonderful thing I was missing out on. But I decided I’d rather play football/be out with my friends/fill in as appropriate”.

Often the lessons were rejected because “the piano teacher was a real dragon, and used to slap my knuckles with a ruler.” Or maybe the person got to a good level on an instrument, but as an adult found their family and work responsibilities stole all their time. And when they finally sat down to have a play after a gap of months or years, it was as if they were beginners once again. And that felt so depressing they gave up.

I suddenly realised what this felt like yesterday. I learned to drive on a car with a manual gearbox, and drove happily with gears for decades. In fact, I revelled in changing gear either smoothly or, sometimes, with rather sporty elan. Double de-clutching was fun! I carried on with it long after synchromesh gear boxes made it unnecessary.

Then we got an automatic vehicle just because it was a nice car. I really missed those gears at first, but traffic queues are much better when you’re not constantly going in and out of first gear. When we next changed cars I was glad it was another automatic. As of yesterday morning, I’d not used a clutch and gear lever in years...

So there I was, confronted with a manual gearbox in a vehicle we’d just acquired, and needing to move off up a hill. I had absolutely NO memory of how to do it. I panicked. What did I need to do first? It took me minutes to recall that I needed to clutch out, engage gear, then balance the accelerator and clutch against releasing the handbrake. But once I remembered all that, I got a tremendous buzz from using a skill long forgotten. After that, the whole gearbox experience came flooding back to me and it was heady fun to be doing something I’d neglected.

If you used to play an instrument, but the years have descended like a fog on the whole thing, I’d encourage you to calmly edge into that mist and see what you can remember. It will feel scary and hopeless to start with, but it’s still all ‘in there’ somewhere, and finding it again will be thrilling. And if you don’t fancy blundering around on your own, get a guide - best of all, a real live teacher, or a good instruction book or video. Like slashing your way through an overgrown garden, you will find all sorts of treasures ready to sprout again with new vigour once they receive some light!

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Weedon’s Wanderings: 10th January 2020

Writing

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITES?

Every two months I have to put my thinking cap on. Why? Because it’s time to write something for Organ & Keyboard Cavalcade magazine, or The Yamaha Club magazine. Occasionally, as today, I’m writing for both at the same time. And both mags ask me to arrange a piece of well-loved music as part of my article.

That shouldn’t be a problem, as the world is awash with great tunes. But then I have to consider copyright. If I use a piece which is too recent (in other words, its composer and lyricist are still alive or died less than 70 years ago), then the magazine has to pay royalties. This is only fair to the creators, of course, but the fees can be swingeing. I once wrote to the Beatles’ publishers to ask if I could use one of their songs in a teaching article and they agreed - as long as I paid them £8,000 per bar! And the penalty for unwittingly using a copyright piece is always four figures or more. 

The obvious way round this is to use older classical pieces and folk songs. But I’ve been arranging these for OKC since it launched nearly 35 years ago. I’m beginning to feel like I’ve used every tune ever written! I comb YouTube for ideas, I Google lists of the world’s most loved songs, I go to concerts for inspiration. But I’ve been overlooking a valuable resource. I’d love to know which are your favourite classical tunes and folk songs. If I’ve not arranged them already, and if they are playable as keyboard arrangements, then I’ll be thrilled to use them in future articles, and acknowledge your contribution. I look forward to receiving your ideas and putting a fresh slant on my articles. Thank you in advance :-)

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