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Food for thought

MUSIC AND Music Therapy Thoughts / Pensées sur la Musique et la Musicothérapie

06th April 2016 -
I performed Debussy "Pour le piano" and Brahms "Handel-Variationen" at The Venue, Leeds College of Music, as part of the International Concert Series. 

The lovely Steinway & Sons rendered a beautiful sound in the pleasant acoustics of the Hall. The audience of over 200 people was warm and friendly. 

I performed this programme on 4th April at Carrubbers Christian Centre, the beautiful hall of Carrubbers on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. The audience consisted of my cherished friends from music studies, touch rugby, work, teaching, church and from supporting friends of friends. It was thoroughly heart-warming to see so many come listen to classical music, a solo piano recital of one hour, all to encourage me in preparation for Leeds. I can only hope the music spoke to them and that they will be inspired to listen to more.  

Last thoughts on this: I found myself relating to my pupils very much while preparing for these two recitals. The amount of practise needed to feel as confident as possible with our fingers and our brain. We need to trust that our hands will do the work once we are in front of the audience, dressed up under the spotlight. But we can only be confident once we are certain we have done enough work. Then we are able to let go and literally "forget about the notes on the score". 

What happens when I perform - my friends often tell me "it looked like there was no time for you to think when you were playing! So many notes, so much happening, so much to memorise". What happens to me if I am negatively nervous, I keep thinking "I don't know what's coming next, I'm not sure about this, where are my fingers going?" and the brain is impacting on the fingers and the heart does not speak through the fingers. When I feel nervous but I know I have checked every single note by memory, hands alone, hands together, at the multiplied speed of slow, my brain is not thinking! My ears are listening, and this will sound cliche - I literally don't know what controls my fingers, so I have to say it is my heart that does. I listen to the sound of a beautiful piano, my arms are not tense, I welcome the audience into the music, unafraid of judgement - because music is the most important, not people's judgement. Read black dots on a score, play it on the piano, interpret it in a way that speaks the music. If I do that, I can listen to it and feel fulfilled. 

27th December 2014 -
I was sent the link to this article this morning: 

    A real delight to see that such articles are now finally widespread to non-musicians. Of course, music effects on recuperation and in disease treatment is a subject constantly being researched and published in the music therapy world; confusing it is that these facts are nonetheless not delivered in everyday papers or in schools on a more regular basis. 
    We musicians are in the business, we already celebrate the wonders of music by mere practice and performance. It is no question to us that music is central to self-actualisation; but to the rest of the world, it seems it is a recurring surprise. 
    And no wonder! They are not being informed enough about the effects of music on the brain and body. It is a shame that knowledge about the true need of music in everybody's life abides a lack of interest. It is my belief the research and facts on music and its effects should be underlined more seriously. 

This next article makes for a rather eye-opening read:
A story that makes me think music is an indispensable component of development, of self-realisation, of life. 

2nd November 2013 -
London School of Dalcroze Eurhythmics

I went to the Dalcroze training, organised by Monica Wilkinson at St. Andrews University. 
Truly interesting to discover and also be reminded of what our bodies are capable of, how they subconsciously react to music and how we - musicians, teachers, performers - can encourage audiences to become not only receptive but consciously musically reactive as we interact socially.

31st October 2013 -
Fraser and I played at the Indigent Old men's Society at St. Micheal's Church, Edinburgh. 
What a truly tremendous pleasure to witness the fervent joy with which they enjoyed classical music! They recognised all Gershwin's classics, even though the pieces we brought were complex variations on the composer's famous masterpieces - "I got rhythm", "Ain't necessarily so" interspersed with arrangements of "Summertime" and the "Three Preludes for Piano". 

They listened to the French and Russian repertoire with masterly ears and joined in with absolutely no timidity when folk songs emerged throughout our performance. 

11th October 2013 -
Recently joined the "Pitch, Pulse and Magic" project for Dumfries and Galloway through Live Music Now!
Fraser Langton and I will be playing to mainstream school classrooms bringing them a little bit of entertainment, education and fairytale as we embark on arrangements of Prokofiev's fantastic Peter and the Wolf and others...
Here is the last updated blog from those who have previously worked on the project
Delighted that projects like these are being undertaken - with the exciting opportunity to share the true wonders of classical music to primary school children. 

On another note, rather disappointed not to be able to make the Autism and Music Therapy International Congress
in Corsica at the end of this month, but fully supporting their work. 

The concerts at the start of this month
with Laura Margaret Smith  were a great reminder of what live chamber concerts provide in Care Homes... a resident and his visiting wife participated with genuine fervour, bathing us in tears and singing as we played - honest reminder of the power music can have... any place, any time.   

7th August 2013 -
What everyone should know about practising to get better at something, and especially at learning an instrument: