Monthly Archives: February 2011

Term 2 placements at Woodside nursery

This term we are continuing to work with children at Woodside nursery (near St George’s Cross). Our theme for the term is ‘storytelling’: introducing an element of music into a well known children’s story to bring it alive for the children.

So far we have done a total of 4 placements this term (even though it is week 6 – how did that happen?), and I have been to 3 of these. Our placement team consists of Liz Lawton (flute, 2nd year), myself and Alison Miller (Violin, 2nd year).

Our first placement, back in January, was basically a recap of what we did last term, with a few old favourites (Apple tree, which the kids love) and a lovely wee song we composed in class called ‘Angel Fish’ which goes like this:

‘Hello I’m the Angel Fish , darling,
The prettiest thing in the sea
What a shame there are no other creatures
As gorgeous and lovely as me!’

The words are from ‘Commotion in the Ocean’ and Alison and Liz supplied the tune.

The most recent two placements (18.2.11 and 22.2.11) have been more focused on storytelling, with our story being Goldilocks and the 3 Bears (we consulted the nursery to find out which story the kids were currently doing and they suggested Goldilocks). We’ve been trying to get the children used to the concept of dynamics, by associating each size of bear in the story (Big Bear, Middle Bear and Small/Baby Bear*) with a dynamic – ie loud, medium, and soft. This has been helped by using 3 different sized cuddly toy bears as visual aids, and last placement Liz and I played a game where she held a bear up and we taught the children to make the different volumes of sounds using drums, shakers, claves and castanets. I then read the story to them (so much fun!) and we asked them to play the right sound whenever the big/middle/baby bear was mentioned. Using props encourages the children to focus on the physical teddy bears and therefore help with their imagination/concentration/association, as they get quiet bored when listening to the story!

Next week we will attempt to teach the children the Goldilocks song – have a listen here!

*We are told not to call the bears ‘Mummy bear’ and ‘Daddy bear’ as some of the kids may come from backgrounds where this may upset them. Can’t decide whether this is political correctness or a sensible precaution…

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Breathing space…

Sorry for the absence of a blog post in recent weeks – this is pretty much the first opportunity I’ve had to sit down and write one! This last two weeks have been extremely busy one way or another, as I starting the tuesday before last (8th feb), I was touring with the Scottish Ensemble as part of their ‘Side by Side with RSAMD strings’ project (see photo above of a rehearsal in Caird Hall). The tour was great fun but exhausting, as we did 5 concerts in 7 days in Aberdeen, Inverness, Perth, Dundee and Edinburgh. We did have a weekend to break the run of concerts, so at least I got some rest in between (and saw Alex in Crail, which was lovely!) but the life of a touring musician is pretty hard as I found out. The 2 nights we stayed in hotels (in Aberdeen – the Carmelite hotel: ok but a bit noisy due to the bar opposite) and in Inverness (the Columba hotel- very nice!) were both very late, as for those of you who don’t know, musicians tend to drink a lot and banter late into the night…

My impressions of the playing with members of the Scottish ensemble were very positive- it was fantastic to play beside two very accomplished players – Fiona Winning , one of the Ensemble’s permanent members who job shares with Cathy Marwood, and Rose Redgrave, who plays in Warwick university’s quartet in residence, the Coull Quartet . Jonathan Morton, the ensemble’s artistic director, is a rare combination of artistically demanding and entirely likeable and easygoing at the same time, and often asked me how my neck/shoulder was throughout the tour (I had told him about the problem early on in the rehearsals). The five concerts I played with the Ensemble were all very special, but for me the Inverness and Edinburgh ones were where I performed at my best (sorry to Alex and Cate who were at the Dundee one!). Here are some reviews of the concerts:

http://www.scotsman.com/music/Classical-review-Scottish-Ensemble-and.6715783.jp

http://northings.com/2011/02/10/scottish-ensemble-side-by-side-with-rsamd-strings/

http://www.perthshireadvertiser.co.uk/lifestyle/arts-perthshire/2011/02/15/review-of-scottish-ensemble-at-perth-concert-hall-73103-28168846/

http://www.heraldscotland.com/classical/reviews/scottish-ensemble-side-by-side-woth-rsamd-strings-queen-s-hall-edinburgh-1.1085524

Other things that have been happening:

• The Musiclab does Birtwistle concert on Monday 7th feb was a great success, or so I gathered from the audience – I still don’t really get or like the piece we played (Silbury air) which is supposed to be one of the hardest that Birtwistle wrote…! Here’s a photo of the score with the absurd metronome mark of 112 ½ !! The conductor, Jessica Cottis, managed extremely well though.

• I have started physio on my neck/shoulder to try and help the pain get better, The physio (who specialises in musicians) has told me it is because I put my head forward when I play, and thus put strain on my lower neck, irritating the nerves and causing pain in my shoulder/arms/left hand. He has given me some exercises to do, and I’m going back next week.

• I have entered the concerto competition, the preliminary round of which is on 7th march. I will be accompanied by Scott Mitchell, one of RSAMD’s accompanists, and will be playing the Walton Viola Concerto (only the 1st mvt for the first round, the rest if I get through on 11th march).

• I have been on my nursery placement twice – more of that in another post!

Recording of Brahms 1st mvt

I have attempted to upload my recording of the performance class I did with hester (described in a post below) to a free upload site (as with free wordpress blogs they don’t allow you to upload mp3s unless you pay more, humph!), but I’m not altogether sure how it works so here goes!

Please comment below and tell me whether you can get it working! Thanks 🙂