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Concert tomorrow!

Well, the day before the concert has arrived. Here is the final (or not so final…) line up:

Jess – selection of unaccompanied Bach from Cello Suites (gigues and menuets)

Trio – Schubert movement (Violin/viola/cello)
Clarinet and piano duo – lighter music… TBC
Trad Scottish tunes (viola) TBC
Watch this space for repertoire developments!! Or simply turn up at 1pm tomorrow and come to the concert! Your choice 🙂

All pieces performed by current or past members of the Heisenberg Ensemble, in aid of the 25th Anniversary Fund. Admission free but retiring collection with be taken, Refreshments available from 12.15pm.




Hope to see you there!! 🙂


Jess xxx


Cello awesomeness


Cello scroll

I know I’m a viola player and shouldn’t admit to these things, but for a period of my life (when I was between about 12 and 18) I desperately wanted to become a cellist as I thought they were *the* coolest people on the planet. So I took up cello lessons and was told, ‘You play the cello like a violin!’ by my teachers and any cellists who saw me play, and was warned sharply that playing the cello would ruin my viola/violin playing. So due to time pressure (and the fact that every time I played the cello I got massive blisters on my little finger) I reluctantly put away my cello and focussed on the viola, which I don’t regret (well, maybe a tiny bit!)

So, in my role as a cellist manque, here are some videos I recently discovered by a cellist called Rachael Lander, who was in the NYO at the same time as me. She uses loop pedals to create amazing waves of sound and her own backing tracks which to me is just beyond awesome. Enjoy.

Rachael Lander – ‘Get Lucky’ (Looped Cello Cover)

Rachael Lander – Pumped Up Kicks (Looped Cello Cover)

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!)


Meloy at ABC, glasgow in 2007

More on the Decemberists

Again, an unrelated post to the RSAMD, but I hope you’ll indulge me…

I’ve been listening to lots of Decemberists songs at the moment; particularly, for some reason, The Gymnast, High Above the Ground (it stuck in my head after Saturday’s gig). I love this song, from the gentle guitar riff at the beginning, through the gradually building instrumentation, to its churning, climactic chorus of

Through the tarlatan holes
You’ve been slipping, been slipping away (la-de-dum-dum)
And the weather will hold
It’s been ever so, ever so gray (la-de-dum-dum)

But here as we’re coming down
And we’re sounding out:
it’s a terrible, terrible tide
As it lights upon your eye

But there on the motorway,
Reeks of marmalade
It’s a chemical, chemical kind
As it lights upon your eye
Lights upon your eye

The final repetitions of ‘April marches on’ are accompanied by lovely violin solo – some very good writing. Wish I was a session musician (*hints to any bands that need a viola player*)

I’ve been musing about what is this song is about… To me it suggests time passing (reference to the season of spring, and we know the Decemberists are fond of seasons: their song titles include July, July!, June hymn, January Hymn, and Summersong). But the reference to a ‘bosun’ (a phonetic spelling of boatswain, defined by wikipedia as ‘an unlicensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship’), compasses and lighthouses suggests a naval theme. I don’t even know whether Tarlatan is a word… (edit: just looked it up and it means ‘a thin, stiff, open-weave muslin’ – sort of shroud-like, maybe?)

Anyway, that’s enough pseudo-literary lyric interpretation! Although if you’re interested and have got this far down, here’s a very interesting interview with Colin Meloy on the album The Crane Wife and his inspirations and influences in general. The Decemberists are sometimes described as “literary pop” and you can see why from this interview.

Meloy at ABC, glasgow in 2007

Meloy at ABC, glasgow in 2007

Placement 1 – Learning skills for nursery teaching

As my first experience of teaching nursery ages kids, I thought the session went pretty well- the kids seemed engaged, able to participate and to be enjoying themselves, and I had a lot of fun too! The children were split into 3 groups of 10-12 and we spent about 30 mins with each group teaching them the same series of songs and games, with each one of us leading one (most of these songs are on the wiki – link at the side)

1.       Hello Song (Fiona)

2.       Hickety Tickety Name Song (Fiona)

3.       Have you brought… (Mary)

4.       Clap your hands (me)

5.       Chop chop choppity chop (Fiona)

6.       Horsey Horsey (me)

7.       Goodbye song (Fiona)

It was initially quite daunting for me to lead these 2 songs, but I took my cues from Mary, Bernadette and especially Fiona, who has an amazing way of bringing everything down to the kids’ level. It took me a few goes to get comfortable with singing in front of the children and being totally confident in what I was doing, but that was ok as we did the session 3 times and by the end I was much more comfortable with it. A few things that I picked up along the way were:

  • Speak loudly, slowly and clearly so that all the children can hear and follow you (there were a lot of ethnic minority children there, especially Chinese, and I wasn’t sure how good their English was)
  • Smile a lot and be totally confident in what you are doing, even if secretly you are not!
  • Try and lead by example, showing the children what to do or getting them to repeat after you
  • If you can, invent a story to go with the song or activity, and props and visual aids definitely helped engage the children in our sessions
  • Ask them questions related to the activity to keep their interest going
  • If some of the quieter ones don’t want to join in, don’t force them to but still include them in what’s going on and they might participate slowly – this happened several times in our sessions and it was lovely to watch

I found it very interesting to notice the range of the childrens’ shyness or excitability- some were very eager to sit next to you and would chatter constantly and demand your attention, while others would sit quietly watching and not joining in. The head teacher said that the children would be much less shy the following week – it was because we were new and ‘scary’ to them.

I will eventually upload a recording of some of the session when I find out how to edit it – I bought myself a digital Dictaphone which is perfect for this sort of thing, and very unobtrusive. But for now, here is me singing my arrangement of the nursery rhyme ‘Horsey horsey’, which I taught the kids, complete with horse finger puppet and claves to make the sound of the hooves!