Monthly Archives: March 2013

Scaling up the music

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So, it was another day of musicality for me yesterday (I do do other stuff, honest). It was down at the church in the day for a national music festival. I spent the day clarineting, singing, ukuleleing, and waving my arms around, ironically, I came with my brass band and didn’t find time to whip out the old euphonium. After busy rehearsals the evening before and a bit of late night transposition for a friend with both the brains and memory of a goldfish we were just about ready. I say ready, but as always, there was still music being distributed on the day, a couple of sight read entries and accompanists found about five minutes in advance. A great day nonetheless, kicking off with woodwind classes followed by voice and percussion before lunch then going on to mixed instruments, keys and brass before building to a crescendo finishing with the bands. This was when I waved my arms around a bit and ended up acting out most of the drum part until it might as well have been called ‘brass band with interpretive dance’, but after weeks of practising and arranging, I was happy to be a part of it and proud of everyone in it, it all went ahead with minim-al stress and we even won a medal.

But of course that wasn’t all, I went straight onto to sing in a concert in the evening which was like a whole other game of charades. The conductor there, well, he was a big fan of improvisation. He was particularly eccentric with grand flamboyant gestures until at one point he held up four fingers with each hand in a kind of sideways bear claw fashion with quite a scary roaring expression on his face and was disappointed when  we didn’t sing anything because apparently this obviously means sing “ah” in four part harmony. My mistake. Then there was the finale which was A major confusion. Along with his random actions and shouting non-corresponding lyrics there was a point when I literally had no idea what I was doing, I guess I was just trying to B natural, and admittedly it was a medley but at the end I looked around and everyone around me was signing different parts of different lines to different songs and I realised, I could sing literally any song at this moment and it would be okay. Clearly improvisation isn’t my forte.

But that’s not all I was doing at this concert. Oh no, I wasn’t just a choir member, I was a runner. Nay, the runner. I was the one that made sure everyone was there ready to go on and pretty much just making the concert happen. No one went through that stage door without my say so. A teacher with a couple of primary school children came down without my calling and wanted to get through to the auditorium, not on my watch. In fact, I would  go as far as to say, if it wasn’t for me, the concert simply wouldn’t happen. Although I can’t say I was the best runner in the world, I did lose one of the conductors until the jazz band just went on without him. But these kind of jobs carry so much responsibility and stress, you’ve got to be pretty sharp, like the poor page turner in one of the piano solo’s in the festival running circles round the pianist and throwing shapes trying to keep up with the pages, but remember, if the pages don’t get turned, the music doesn’t get read and nothing gets played. It’s a lot to Handel. On a high note, of course we couldn’t pass up any opportunity for a cheeky cake sale, making us another £158.63 between us from the concert, all adding to the Kenya fund.

So, just a massive well done to everyone who participated in any part of the day, it was brilliant on all accounts 🙂

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music making with friends in faith

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Well, I haven’t blogged in a while (so it’s going to be a long one) and quite frankly that’s because not much has been going on in my life but life is a bit like waiting for a bus really, nothing happens for ages and suddenly, three come all at once. So, I spent this weekend up in the pretty cold, wet and Northern town of Ilkley, west Yorkshire to sing in a national orchestra and choir. We meet about three times a year in all parts of the country to join together in music and in Faith. So, straight after college on Friday, I caught a coach. Five and a half hours being stuck behind someone I knew I knew from somewhere but couldn’t for life of my work out where from. There was me, wondering if I could be in the presence of a celebrity only to find out I’m fairly sure it was my secondary school science technician. Not to mention, my friend ended up chasing the megabus all the way down the motorway to meet us in Oxford. So about half past ten we arrived in Leeds, took a small trek across Leeds to the train station where they charged 30p to use the toilets. After a five and a half hour bus journey, when you have no change, this is not what you want to hear. We waited for our train and finally arrived at Ilkley station at about quarter to twelve that evening, walked up to Ilkley Christchurch where we couldn’t find a way in anywhere and I took quite a spectacular tumble on some particularly slippery steps. But eventually, we got in and everyone was there to greet us, and suddenly, at that moment, it didn’t matter that it was midnight, or that we were cold, or that we had just spent seven hours getting there, because we were there and safe and in some of the best company I could ever imagine, about to embark on an absolutely indescribable weekend. ( I say indescribable, but I’m going to try).

After a fair bit of catching up with old friends, we bedded down for the evening. Up at eight, we had breakfast and rehearsals started at nine. A day full of making music and sharing faith with friends. About nine hours, eighteen songs and just a little bit of questionable choreography later, we were just about ready to put on a concert. After whole lot of rhythm, funk and some definite shaking and shimmying I can honestly say I didn’t want to end. It sounds cliché but even though we didn’t all know exactly what we were doing for the entire time, we pulled it off and the buzz and atmosphere was incredible. Voices to give you goosebumps, words to make you cry and tunes to just make you get up and dance. I even made it to the back row (out of two), although did need a little aid to assist my lack of height.

But of course it didn’t end there, up again at seven for breakfast the next morning before rehearsals at seven forty five. We took both morning services on Sunday, wasting no time rehearsing in between the two. All in all, it went well and everyone there was incredible. A collection of the best kind of friends one could ask for, so if ever you’re in any doubt that you yourself are a wonderful person then this is the place the be because you wont be for long as each and every person there made it an incredible weekend. So, whether you’re looking for someone to help you catch up on a bit of work at midnight, someone to give you a ride halfway home or someone to make you smile you won’t be searching for long.

Then it was time for goodbyes (although I prefer see you soons) and the journey home. Slightly more exciting than the journey up there. First I got a lift down to Birmingham where we spent our final drips of energy and voice singing along to S club and of course the Grease megamix and then a friend told me which train I need to catch to get further into Birmingham to meet my bus. That was all good until I got off the train at the other end. That was when I realised I was somewhere in Birmingham looking for a particular bus stop, unsure entirely of where I was or where I wanted to be. I would say I got tremendously lost, but it’s hard to get lost if you never knew where you were to begin with, so the thought of losing direction wasn’t a particularly distressing one as you can’t lose what you never had. So there I was looking for a bus stop that was allegedly about three minutes away, feeling like a real intrepid tourist with my two bags, sleeping bag, sleep mat and map (which inconveniently had neither my starting point nor my destination on it) and after just over an hour of aimless walking and occasionally asking directions, I stumbled across the bus stop. Amazingly, after this, I was still almost an hour early for what I thought was the departure time only to be pointed out to me that I had mistaken the 7.55 departure time for a 17.55 departure time and was told to come back about two and a half hours later. So there I was in Birmingham and after just a little more wandering I fell asleep in a nearby costa coffee. Unfortunately, this closed at six thirty and so I found a little bench to perch on and pass the time, although, out of evenings spent outside, it wasn’t the warmest.  Finally , at the correct time of five to eight I caught the megabus and eventually arrived home at about quarter past eleven. Just over ten hours after leaving the church in Ilkley.

But, as I said, life doesn’t like to just throw one bus at a time. Today I had a clarinet exam and it was only on the journey home yesterday that I realised that in hindsight, the weekend was probably was quite a stupid idea, but, if it was stupid, I hope I never start thinking sensibly because I wouldn’t have given it up for the world. And anyway, it does always seem to be exams that get in the way, about two years ago I had to get up particularly early on a Duke of Edinburgh expedition to straight on to a dance exam after the hike, I’ve also had another dance exam on the same day as a national music festival (three entries before the exam, three entries after) heck, I even got up at five in the morning and took two coaches and a plane to get to my final RS lesson the day before my G.C.S.E exam (arriving only five minutes late) but I guess that’s just how life goes and you’ve just got to take whatever life gives you, because you might not get it again 🙂