Category Archives: life

New look blog!

So spring has finally arrived properly up here in Fife, and I thought I’d choose a new theme for my blog to celebrate. Hope you like it! The background is this photograph of my viola’s ‘f’ hole, which is also on my business cards:



And here’s a link to Buzzfeed’s ’30 Happiest Facts of All Time’, just to make you smile (I think number 2 is my favourite!)



Moving forward…

I’m slowly getting back on track with everything after the hiatus of moving house, Christmas, and spending 2 and a half months temping in Edinburgh (which was only part time, but commuting to edinburgh meant I had to get up very early – not my favourite thing if you know me – and get home pretty late, making for very long days), as well as preparing for the Clarke concert which took up a lot of time.

At the moment I’m trying to figure out what I want to achieve as a musician and how I want to go about it. I’ve decided some things already, and trying to take the steps to make these happen, but sometimes it is slow progress as emails are often slow in being answered etc. I want to try and get back to blogging regularly, as I think it will help me keep a closer eye on how things are going and hopefully provide me with a way of structuring what I’m doing and a record of the things I’ve done so far, which will be good for me as it will give me a sense of achievement. I’m in the process of adding a page for events and concerts to this blog so it’s easier for me and others to keep track of what I’m up to.

Anyway, here are the projects I’m currently working on and their progress:

Community music and teaching

I’m very interested in doing more community music, as a direct result of my experiences of working with nursery children while I was doing my course in Glasgow. Ideally, I’d like to find some paid work as a community musician, but I’m aware that I don’t have all that much experience. So, at the moment I’m open to exploring avenues which will give me that experience such as working in schools/nurseries or hospitals and care homes. All the major orchestras and ensembles in Scotland have to do some outreach and education as part of their funding contract from Creative Scotland, so I’d also like to get involved with these projects if I can. I’m also investigating the possibility of doing short courses in Orff or Kodaly training (possibly through NYCOS).

Concert of Bach in Holy Trinity Church, St Andrews

This is a collaboration with Tom Duncan, the organist and choir master of Holy Trinity Church in St Andrews whom I have known since my time as a student choral scholar there. We are planning a concert mainly of Bach but which will also include a Buxtehude Cantata. I’m meeting Tom tomorrow to discuss the details and dates etc, so I’ll keep you posted as we sort out the details!

Chamber Music

Since I left RSAMD, I’ve been very keen to find a good outlet for my love of chamber music. I am really keen to start a quartet, but the problem has been finding people that are both like minded and able to commit to the time it takes. My friend Ros, the cellist from Rusalka days and now English PhD graduate (congrats!) is still in St Andrews and also keen to do some chamber playing, so now it is a question of finding some violinists in the area, and we will hopefully be meeting one soon who might be a possibility. Fingers crossed, this might be the beginnings of something 🙂

And finally…

For those of you who didn’t see this, it is a credit to viola players everywhere (although initially the BBC mistook him for a violinist, pah!)

Mr Bean conducts

I’ve been meaning to write a post for a while, but a series of unforseen events has prevented me from doing so (that sounds rather grand, but it really isn’t, it just involved a lot of unnecessary hassle and stress…)

Anyway, a more serious post will follow soon but in the meanwhile here’s something humorous to think about!

I was watching TV this evening (during the aforementioned event- see my facebook for more details if you want); Mr Bean happened to be on and one of my all time favourite moments happened to flash up (the pickpocket bit before he conducts is also incredible!)

This got me thinking in a semi-serious way: can modern conductors learn a thing or two from Mr Bean’s style and attitude?! 😛

I’d love to know which brass banded recorded the episode’s music and hear the stories from the players who took part!

Ho hum…

Well, this week has been quite mixed. It has been eventful, but also rather painful, as I seem to have developed a  very sore right shoulder/upper arm. This is not only unusual for me, as I very rarely get pain in my bowing arm, but very annoying, as I’m supposed to be performing in the viola challenge competition on Monday. I think it might be to do with my new, higher chinrest, which is making me use my bow arm in a slightly different way, meaning that I use different muscles… I had an Alexander technique lesson yesterday, and Isobel told me to rest the arm for at least a couple of days, as muscle injuries take about five days to start healing – does anyone know if this is right?

I also spoke to my teacher and postponed my lesson for this week, and Jane was very sympathetic about it and advised me not to worry about the competition.  The problem is, the piece is not only very difficult, it is also atonal and I’m only just beginning to make sense of it in musical terms, as I’ve either been too tired/stressed/painful to practice it. Part of me wants to play in the competition, and part of me just wants to give it a miss because it’s a silly piece anyway, and it’s just unnecessary stress, and I really don’t want to hurt myself any more than I have already.

Things I’ve done this week:

o   I’ve played in an exam – my flatmate Fiona is a third year vocal student at the academy and she wanted to perform Frank Bridge’s  beautiful ’Music When Soft Voices Die’ in her mid term recital. (Here is a youtube clip – I personally think our version was better!)

o   I’ve played in my first academy competition, the internal round of a quartet competition where the winner goes through to the external competition in London. In fact, we only played in front of Robert and another woman (no idea who she was) and it wasn’t public and felt more like an audition than a competition. However, I think we played our pieces (1st mvt of Ravel string quartet, 2nd mvt of Haydn op 64) the best we have ever played them so that’s great.

o   Decided that my assessment will be weighted 50% on a 50 minute chamber recital, not 25% on a new work (a collaboration with a composer) and 25% on the chamber recital. This means preparing an extra 20 mins of music, but now I’m working with an excellent group of masters students in my piano quartet this shouldn’t be a problem (we’re working on Dvorak piano quartet in D major at the moment)

I’ve also learnt a new piece of musical lingo- ‘toy toy toy’ is opera-speak for good luck (it’s bad luck to tell someone to break a leg in opera dressing rooms)!

Things I’ve missed or will miss:

  • My community music placement- my shoulder was just too painful and it was the same day as Fiona’s exam. It was Burns night so Alison and Liz did lots of Scottish songs eg Ally Bally, 3 Craws, Wee Willie Winkie and they played Scottish tunes on fiddle and flute.
  • My lesson with Jane (it was going to be tomorrow)
  • My session with Hester (ditto) – I need to go through the 3rd mvt of Brahms Eb with her

And of course I’ve missed my wonderful fiancé, Alex, who lives in Crail. I’ll see him this weekend though 🙂