Tag Archives: community music

My Portfolio Life: new academic year!

Keep Calm and Have a Cupcake!!Advice for stressed students from Bibi’s Bakery, South Street

It’s the second week of the new academic semester here in North East Fife, and the leaves are beginning to turn – it must be autumn already!  Apologies for the lack of news on here – it has been a somewhat eventful summer, and I haven’t had much time to write this blog due to illness getting in the way…  But I’m hoping  I can now get back to posting here fairly regularly, as this autumn seems to be gearing itself up to be a busy  semester with concerts and events, as you’ll see below!

I’ve also ordered myself some lovely new compliment slips, postcards and business cards which I’m quite excited about using! I’m trying to get myself organised and do stuff like that – part of being self employed, I guess.

Anyway, here’s a summary of the projects I’m involved with, and the concerts I have planned for the next few months!

New projects

St Andrews Smiles Better – my facebook page and a work in progress. Eventually I hope to be able to turn this into an official organisation/charity to help provide music and the arts in social care settings such as hospitals, care homes, schools and day centres. I’m still learning how to use a facebook ‘page’ so anybody with any experience, I’d love to speak to you!

Leuchars Military Wives Choir – I am now the “assistant musical director”jn of RAF Leuchars Military Wives Choir, a fancy way of saying I go to their rehearsals, play the piano for them and assist with music/warm ups/general musical stuff. This is very exciting for me, as I have written before about the impression that Gareth Malone’s Military Wives TV series had on me and the importance of community music. I feel very proud to be able to contribute something towards the running of such a group and very lucky to work with the amazing wives of RAF employees.

Projects I’m continuing with:

St Andrews and Fife Community Orchestra – I’m continuing my role as in previous years, taking sectionals, answering questions

Teaching – I’m now teaching in the St Andrews area only (not in South Fife or the East Neuk) and I’m continuing to enjoy sharing my experience of playing  and talking about all things string related  🙂 Cello subway

Image: Don’t forget your instrument when you travel!

Concerts

Sunday 28th Sept, 7pm in Holy Trinity Church, St Andrews – Heisenberg Ensemble with Dame Emma Kirkby – Mozart, Bach, Palestrina, Gibbons (Tickets are £10, available through the church,  or by calling 01334 478317 or emailing holytrinity(at)gmail.com replacing (at) with @)
Friday 25th October, Greyfriar’s Kirk, Edinburgh – St Patrick’s Ensemble play new music and Strauss, playing the “Sherlock Quartet” of instruments (more info to follow soon)
Tuesday 12th November, 1.10pm, Reid Hall, Edinburgh – lunchtime recital with Audrey Innes and Jean Murray – Hindemith Viola Sonata Op 11 no 4 and Hindemith Flute Sonata
Weds 20th Nov, 1.10pm, Younger Hall, St Andrews – Lunchtime recital with St Andrews String Trio – Schubert and Beethoven serenade
Weds 27th Nov, 1.10pm, Younger Hall, St Andrews – Lunchtime recital with Paul Livingston (Violin and Viola duo) – Programme TBC but probably including Mozart/Halvorsen

Further in the future, Audrey and I are planning another lunchtime concert in early 2014 – more details to follow as they are decided…!

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Taking the plunge…

Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that for a long time now I have had a project in the back of my mind: a social project connected with the power of the arts to transform lives for the better. Having spent time in a hospital recently, a lot of things have become clearer to me: the power of human kindness, patience, compassion and above all, a little space to live your own life in.

I have been wondering, waiting and worrying, as I am wont to do, about the timing of such a project, the feasibility issues, the cost, the practical logistics, when I thought: ‘it might be now, or never’. So I took a chance, A risk, some might say. I took the plunge. I’m still not sure that it was the “right” thing to do, but perhaps I never will be, and anyway, I’m not sure that that is the important thing here.

The important thing is:

I did something. Not Nothing. And that means something.

I did it. Here goes. I said it.

 St Andrews Smiles Better Facebook Page – An experiment in positive thinking

“Don’t Ration Compassion” (a monk at Samye Ling Monastery, fieldwork, 2009)

This project is extremely close to my heart. So many people have touched my life in different ways, that I find it very hard not to say Thanks every time someone does something nice for me. So I want to pass it on. Play it forward. Form my own “Karma Army” like Danny Wallace. Help local businesses succeed and create employment opportunities. Play music to people to cheer them up. Do random acts of kindness and smile at people I don’t know. 

 

Thank you all for reading.

 

Love,

Jess xxxxxxxxxxx

With a little help from my friends… An open invitation!

An Open Invitation: ‘With a little help from my friends’

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACello scroll

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Thursday 29th August

St Andrews Church, Queen’s Terrace, St Andrews

1.30pm

PROGRAMME:

Cello suites/Scottish Music/Surprise!!

Who, me?

Who, me?

You will need:

FRIENDS…….
FAMILY……..
CAKE……
MONEY…..

Tea/wine/champagne…….

Your ears!

The plan:

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The charities:

Heisenberg (Jill Craig)

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Families First (St Andrews)

Sistema Scotland/In Harmony

Arts in Fife/Dundee

Drake Music Scotland

Music in Hospitals

Military Wives Choir (Gareth Malone)

Scottish Ensemble {insert group here}

Rokpa/Tibetan Children’s Villages/ICT

tibet screensaver

Brooklands College

Signpost International (Dundee)

Just Made/Gillian Gamble

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Pragya (India)

RSPCA/RSPB/Big cat rescue

SUGGESTIONS WELCOME!! Answers on a post card to: Jess Long!

Music changing lives III: music therapy for profound and multiple learning disabilities

If you have a spare ten minutes and would like to see the difference music can make to some of our society’s hardest to reach individuals, then watch this incredibly moving video:

http://www.artsjournal.com/slippeddisc/2013/03/how-music-therapy-reaches-people-who-are-lost-to-the-world.html

Most of us will encounter someone with severe and disabling learning difficulties at some point in our lives, and some of us are in day to day contact with them. The approach used in the film – using ‘communication passports’ to document each individual’s unique modes of communication – is an ingenious idea for those who work with people with severe disabilities and one which I feel should become more widely known and used.

An organisation that works with disabled people to make music is Drake Music Scotland, which I visited a few months ago to see what they do and how they overcome the difficulties of making music when someone has disabilities like limited motor control. They have a number of very cool adaptive technologies, including a squidgy cube called the Skoog that responds to touch, a beam of light that produces sounds when it is broken (called Soundbeam) and a space age headband that reads your brainwaves to produce music (which I didn’t see in action).

In the comments on the video, someone suggests this approach should be used for the treatment of older people as well. I agree, and think that the arts have an enormous role to play in the care and enjoyment of the vunerable in our society. At the moment, I am working on a concept which involves providing support and befriending as well as a creative activity, such as music or art, for older and isolated people in the community. This is still in the very early planning stages, so I’ll post more about it as the project progresses.

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!)

Community Music 1: final placements (5th and 6th May)

Sadly, our time with Woodside Nursery is drawing to a close. For our final sessions, we have chosen to go to the nursery on 2 consecutive days, with the Thursday being a refresher session and the Friday a ‘sharing session’ so that we can showcase what we have been working on with the children to their parents, teachers and to the CM1 staff. (These sessions are being assessed as part of our coursework.)

“Refresher Session”: Thursday 5th May,with 2 groups of about 15 children

We started as always with the Hello song (lead by me) and Hickety Tickety (Alison) – the kids in both groups were very enthusiatic and sang both songs very well , which was impressive as our last session was some time ago. We are using material familiar to the children for the sessions, as it is all stuff that we know they enjoy – they particularly love jumping up and down and doing actions for songs like ‘Cracker Jack’.

Here is the plan for both the session today and the one tomorrow:

  1. Hello Song (sitting) – Jess
  2. Hickety Tickety – Alison
  3. Have you Brought – Liz
  4. Cracker jack (with actions/jumps!) – Liz
  5. Ally Bally – Jess
  6. Angel fish (with a fish puppet) – Alison
  7. Pease Pudding (with actions for hot, cold, pot and 9 days old)
  8. Bear game (with chimes/bells for goldilocks, and claves played forte, mezzo forte and piano for Big Bear, Middle Bear and Baby Bear) – Liz
  9. Reading the Goldilocks Story with instruments – Alison
  10. ‘Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear’ rhyme with movements – Alison (I remember this one from my childhood!)
  11. Goodbye Song (standing in a circle) – all of us

We all had lots of fun today as the kids were full of energy and sang with very loud voices and loads of smiles – it was lovely to see them so happy, and see so much improvement in the quiet ones. The best moment for me was when we had finished with the first group and they were lining up at the door: suddenly about 15 little voices in unison shouted ‘GOODBYE!!’, and they all waved at us happily – aww… 🙂