Haytor View Early Years Music Project, Autumn Term 2015 – Blog 2

Haytor View Early Years Music Project with BSO Devon Associate Hugh Nankivell
Wednesday 23rd September 8.30-11.40am

As the children were coming in I had a brief chat with some of the parents, giving the sheet music of ‘P’s song from last week and a copy of the blog to ‘P’s dad. He reaffirmed that she sings all the time at home and loves music, and that she sings a mix of songs that already exist and also ones that she makes up. And for me this is really imprtant – that combination of creative/improvisatory and also repertoire.

Also while I was moving round I was briefly near the table with ‘C’ and his Mum and she smilingly said to me ‘not singing yet Hugh?’ This felt a very nice endorsement of my work in the school and also an acceptance that I am part of the fabric of the school, and that some parents now expect to hear music when I am around.

Today we did some audio recordings of the class songs and played them back to the group and this felt important – they were very happy and wanting to join in with the recordings and sometimes couldn’t resist. We hear the music we have just played and our hands and bodies move with what we were doing when we made the recording, and we want to replicate that again.

We discovered one boy today ‘J’ who has what seems to have an inherent musicality – at one point he had the drum and played it for ten minutes or so while we sang the new school song and improvised around it in a group of ten children and two adults. It was immediately clear that he:

  1. was really steady,
  2. could play cadences (he realised the end was coming up and played with the ending) and
  3. was very sensitive – never too loud, shifted tempo with us, and was a real accompanist.

Later we sang this song for the music co-ordinator in the school and sang it with whispered and loud bits and ‘J’ acompanied wonderfully. One of the class teachers talked with me about how she also observed ‘J’ as he was able to follow tempo changes, dynamic changes and cadences.

Today a  boy ‘C’ made up a new game (later named as ‘Eggy Hunt’). This was his response to finding some egg shakers and a small tambour drum. The game consisted of counting the egg shakers, then explaining to everyone else that we must close our eyes, while ‘C’ put some under the drum and then we had to guess where they had gone. He really loved this game and enjoyed playing it in ‘sharing’ time at the end of the morning. He enjoyed this more than playing ‘music’ I think. He and another boy also got very involved in throwing the eggs to me (and each other) and seeing how many could be caught in one hand without dropping them, and also trying to juggle them.

A small group of us played together as a band improvising and then introducing the idea of ‘freeze’ at certain points (and sometimes ‘stop’) and again ‘C’ got really involved in it as a game, and the stopping/starting is – for him – more improtant than the ‘music-making’ in between.

So today some of my roles have been to:

  • engage with parents,
  • sing and acompany songs that already exist,
  • record and playback the new music the children are creating,
  • encourage and develop group music playing,
  • support and play new games as they are invented,
  • observe and identify musical potential.

And my challenge for this week is to bring in a provocation that has the potential to develop and further some of the observed activities from today, and make sure I arrive with an open mind.


BSO Concert Season 2015/16 Preview at Lighthouse, Poole

BSO-86(300dpi)BSO Concert Season 2015/16 Lighthouse, Poole a preview written by Paul Jordan

For classical music enthusiasts in Wessex, the autumnal feel in the air sharpens the feeling of anticipation for another season of Lighthouse concerts by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.  Even if they didn’t make it to the Albert Hall, most regular followers of the Orchestra will have seen the Promenade Concert they performed in August on television. Chief Conductor Kirill Karabits led the Orchestra through a blisteringly intense performance of Prokofiev’s 5th Symphony, and Nicola Benedetti performed the lyrical and romantic Korngold Violin Concerto. With a new contract lasting at least until 2018, Karabits is presiding over a golden age for the Orchestra.  They have outstanding long-serving principals in most sections. In performance, this stability leads to a rapport that guarantees a base level of excellence in the playing.  We can confidently set our expectations high.

BSO-141The programme is, as ever, stuffed with ‘must hear’ items and concerts. Karabits continues to expand his range and repertoire. The season starts with a performance of Richard Strauss’s steamy and intense one-act opera ‘Salome’ (30 September). Karabits has given us some memorable Strauss in the last few years: a ‘Don Juan’, a ‘Death and Transfiguration’ and last season an ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ and a Four Last Songs live in the memory. This is definitely one not to miss.  Later in the season Karabits conducts a Sibelius concert featuring the composer’s last works from the 1920s (2 December), an intriguing pairing of Dutilleux’s Cello Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s underrated ‘Manfred’ Symphony (20 January), and a debut Mahler symphony, the first (4 May).

Following the success of pianist Sunwook Kim’s residency in the last season, this season’s chosen artist is the outstanding young violinist Augustin Hadelich. Now an American citizen and resident in New York, Hadelich was born to German parents and grew up in Italy.  He will play the Tchaikovsky (17 February) and Sibelius (27 April) concertos as well as teaming up with Sunwook Kim in a chamber concert on 16th March.

Of course it is impossible to mention everything in a season of more than twenty concerts,BSO-291-duo_Kirill but we are also looking forward to hearing the Chorus in Poulenc’s ‘Gloria’ (18 November) and Brahms’s German Requiem (9 March). There’s the usual wealth of Russian works, sixteen if I counted correctly compared to just five by Brits. No complaints about this: the Orchestra, under Karabits leadership, are acquiring a real reputation for excellence in this repertoire. A couple of nudges for next year: for an orchestra so often conducted by Americans, it’s odd that there’s no American music in the programme. And if Sibelius’s 150th birthday is worth celebrating, isn’t his contemporary and fellow-Scandinavian Carl Nielsen worth remembering too?

Details of all the concerts are at www.bsolive.com, as are booking details and the tempting subscription deals whereby the more concerts you attend, the cheaper they get.  Concert reviews will be posted regularly on the BSO website. Happy listening!

Paul Jordan reviews a number BSO Concerts for The Fine Times Recorder each season, his reviews are often published on the BSO website and on occasion in the Bournemouth Daily Echo. 

Would you like to preview your BSO Concert Season 2015/16 taking place in Portsmouth, Exeter, Bournemouth or Bristol? Please send your previews to Esme James, BSO Communications Manager via email ejames@bsorchestra.co.uk

Achieving great results and having fun in Southampton

Achieving great results and having fun in Southampton

The advert in our local paper said, “Would you like to sing in a concert with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra? No experience required. Come to a free singing day southampton-1 southampton-2 southampton-3at the city’s O2 Guildhall Southampton.” I showed Mandy, my wife, and we decided to give it a go. Good decision!

The day itself was socks-knocked-off superb. Over 200 members of the two choirs ‘up North’ travelled down to show what could be done and a select band of BSO players gave a foretaste of the sound we could make together. As they came back down from the Guildhall stage I heard one choir member say to another,         “The last time we sang that was when we had a standing ovation in the Carnegie Hall.”

So, we signed up. Admittedly it helps to have the rehearsal venue, Richard Taunton’s College, just round the corner. But we were not alone: over 80 others from all over the area did the same and for the next ten weeks we got to know each other, and our parts, really well. The thought of performing all 14 songs from memory was initially daunting or even beyond belief but with the ever-patient Pete (Harrison), our lofty leader and Teresa (the one-woman ‘Barlow Symphony Orchestra’), his keyboard accomplice, coaching us through the many ‘corners’ as well as the not-quite-so-dire straits, we made it.

Help was there too in the pack of music for all the songs along with a CD with our own parts as well as the full mix of all voices and MP3 tracks downloadable from the Inspiration website. Every car journey of more than the length of the Hallelujah Chorus was accompanied by a blast from the repertoire and by the time we hit the weekend of the concert we were (almost) ready.

On the morning of the concert when we rehearsed for the first time with our BSO partners the Inspiration experience moved up another level; not just in volume but in jaw-dropping, nerve-tingling amazement at the beauty and power of the sound they produce as well as the sheer professionalism of the musicians we were performing alongside.

The audience was clearly impressed and the applause, standing ovations and post-concert plaudits all contributed to a great sense of achievement and pride for all of us in the choir. As Pete said, “Everyone has worked so hard and really joined in with the spirit of Inspiration – achieving great results and having fun.”

We will be back for the next Inspiration season in September and look forward to meeting up with all our friends from the first term as well as new recruits. So, if you would like to be part of this too visit the Southampton recruitment page or come along to our first rehearsal on Wednesday, 23rd September. It will be a taster session with Pete and Teresa taking us back over some of our concert highlights as well as introducing us to some of the songs for our Christmas concert. Can’t wait!

See you there!
Alan Matlock, Inspiration Southampton Bass

Haytor View Early Years Music Project, Autumn Term 2015 – Blog 1

Haytor View Early Years Music Project with BSO Devon Associate Hugh Nankivell
Wednesday 16th September 12.20-3.15pm

Really wonderful in the new space of the BRAND NEW school. Just seventeen children in today as they gradually add more to the foundation stage over the next few weeks. By the end of the session I had managed to learn all but two of the children’s names.

My provocation was to make up a new song after arriving at the new school about the new space. In group time I had a group of nine children and we stayed basically singing this new song for over thirty minutes – adding in shakers, claves, drums, ukuleles and other percussion and taking it into story and playing really happily. It was great when, by the end, everyone was asking for it to be sung one more time, so it was hard to end the session. I made the structure of the song (3 lines repeated and then a final rhyming line) based on the last song we wrote at the end of the last term about being outside at the last site. So there is a connection between the old school and the new.

The song is NEW SCHOOL

This is our new school x3
We think it’s very cool

We’ve got lots of space x3
In our brand new space

Ooh Happy to be here x4

We talked about adding new verses to the song, and came up with this.

Playing with ukuleles
Playing with the drums
Playing jumping outside
Playing with the sand

We did then go off into an improvised story line with going up into space, based on the way that the egg-shakers were being held (like a space rocket) so we had a 5-4-3-2-1 and blasted off to space and landed on the moon, where it was too cold, and then the sun, where it was too hot, and then a planet where the witch Rosie lived and we then went off into fantasy for a bit with unicorns and magic spells and then I broke it all by bringing it back to earth. Is it good that I needed to bring us back to earth? I felt a need to bring us back to something we knew. Is that my desire for control or order or a need to find an ending?

Lots of real enjoyment in that session. We then broke up and off into different play sessions and formations.
I then spent most of my time with two pairs:

‘P’ and ‘S’ playing with the toy animals on the artificial grass – and ‘P’ very happily singing up the world. I was mainly echoing her back, and sometimes (probably) interrupting her flow of thought. Also my echoing was formalising the process and perhaps this was not exactly what she was wanting, but I am not really sure.

Anyhow, we did (between us) make up a chorus that ‘P’ sang beautifully and later she sang it to Chris the music co-ordinator when he came into the room. (Interestingly she sang it exactly a tone lower than originally.) Later in the ‘sharing’ she sang a more improvised version of it (while eating an apple) but still very confidently and comfortably.

I like animals and they jump
and they sing
and they play

Manuscript for the song 'P' sang 'I Like Animals'

Manuscript for the song ‘P’ sang ‘I Like Animals’

I have notated it and sent it to the class teacher today so she can show ‘P’.

After school I chatted with ‘P’s Mum and her (and played her a recording of ‘P’ singing) and asked Mum if ‘P’ sings at home and was told that she does all the time – songs from Kanye West to ‘Frozen’ to making up her own songs. This really shows me how, if a parent sings and plays musically with a child then that child will feel musically comfortable and confident and this was certainly the case with ‘P’ and I am looking forward to following her musical lead this term.

Then I played with two other girls – I went and met them at a table where they had rolled up blue cellophane which they told me was their map and we then went on an improvised journey around the room (and the imagination) singing it as we went along. They were really keen on leading in terms of ideas and where we were going and the things we were exploring and seemed really delighted that someone was following their lead.

My provocation for next time might be the idea of mapping and song – can we map the whole school in music?

Music for a While – Blog 4

Music for a While BLOG
BSO Associate – Neil Valentine
Entry 4, 08/09/15

BSO Associate Neil Valentine is working acute older peoples wards in Poole, Portsmouth and Hampshire Hospitals. He will be visiting the each ward once a week for 6 months.This is a collection of his thoughts, feelings, impressions and experiences.

Finding the right music

One thing that has become clearer over the course of the project so far is the need to find the ‘right’ music as often as possible. When the aim is to make connections and engage with someone through music you need to establish a common ground. In musical terms this means meeting their expectations to some degree if possible.

Often I have had requests for music that is special to a person or a family. In some cases I have been able to source the music and play it quite quickly, but only if I have an idea of what the music sounds like, its style, the singer or composer. And in these cases the standard of the playing is not as high as I would like, seeing as I have quickly learnt some music using my phone or laptop to download a score or picture.

Sometimes it is fortunate as I know the music, and if they are able to sing the first few notes then the rest of the song can follow relatively easily. But this is not often not the case. The questions I have taken to asking when appropriate are 1: Do you have any types of music that you particularly like? and 2: Would you like music that is upbeat and exciting or calm and relaxing?

The answer to the first question seems to always be ‘Not really, I like a bit of everything’. But by the way they answer, it gives an opening to prod further if you think it’s appropriate or take that as your answer and choose yourself.

As it turns out variety is very appreciated. Even when a particular style is requested, varying the music does not put patients off from engaging. The common thread here is my instrument, me and the way I approach the music. Music played well and beautifully tends to be appreciated, engaged and enjoyed. Which is why it seems that unrequested music I have had a chance to practice and feel comfortable with is more enjoyed than music that is requested but thrown together in the moment.

This is not a hard and fast rule. Sometimes working out a piece of music with a patient so you both rediscover it together can be lots of fun. This happened recently with a patient who was a keen singer, and together we were able to work out ‘Abide with Me‘ and ‘Jerusalem‘.

After writing this, finding the right music now appears to be about attitude. Being open and honest, and presenting what I can to the best of my ability. I cannot always present the perfect music, but I can have enough ideas, enough improvisation skill and enough repertoire to be able to adapt something to the presented situation. So maybe the statement from the opening paragraph should be: One thing that has become clearer over the course of the project so far is the need to find the right outlook or attitude as often as possible.

In the Spotlight…

 Jacoba Gale, BSO Viola speaks to Quarternote the BSO members magazine

Jacoba Gale, BSO Viola

Jacoba Gale, BSO Viola

Why did you decided to become a musician?

I didn’t ever decide to become a musician. I went to the Yehudi Menuhin School aged 8 and the question was never raised. It was my choice however, to be an orchestral musician rather than a chamber musician as were many of my school friends. I have always loved the thrill of a symphony orchestra and the sound it produces. Having been at a school that only catered to strings and piano I have always enjoyed the colours and sounds that the wind, brass, and percussion sections contribute.

What’s the best thing about being a musician?
Other musicians! They are a group of diverse, talented and interesting people who are great fun to be with and with whom there is good camaraderie. One has the opportunity to travel at home and abroad and the job has variety as no week is the same. Oh, and a lot of the music of course!

What’s the one performance from your career that sticks in your mind?
After 35 and a half years that’s a difficult question! The Finnish tour with Paavo Berglund, or Falstaff in Paris with Welsh National Opera are possibilities but my immediate reaction would be our 100th birthday concert at the Royal Albert Hall doing Mahler Symphony No.2 with Andrew Litton. We travelled to London on a train that was named after us when we arrived at Waterloo. The hall was packed and the orchestra was on a real high. It was a very special night and I was proud to take part in such an historic occasion. I have never forgotten the atmosphere.

If you could work with one musician, who would it be and why?
I would love to have worked with Bernard Haitink especially doing Mahler or Opera. I have admired him hugely over the years and I think he is definitely the last of the “Great” conductors.

What work do you enjoy playing above all else?
This is another difficult question as there are so many things I love playing. The Rachmaninov Piano Concerti are favourites and I couldn’t live without Sibelius. I also love Gershwin and Ravel and adore doing the operas at Grange Park but I particularly love Richard Strauss so I would have to say that it would have to be Also Sprach Zarathustra.

Tell us about the history of your instrument?
My viola was made in Chicago in the workshops of William Harris Lee. The maker is Vanna So who is Malaysian. I bought it new in 1998 and it has been interesting hearing the wood becoming vibrant and the sound change as it is played. It has needed some toning down and taming at times! It has a very centred sound, verging on bright but hopefully not too astringent! The Chicago workshop are interesting in that they have taken a lot of weight out of their violas and have also made the necks slimmer so as to be more user friendly!

What are you interests outside music?
In my spare time I enjoy dressmaking and tailoring, am a keen cook and a chocolatier. Usually at Easter I raise money for charity by selling a large number of Easter eggs filled with handmade chocolates. This is a monumental task but the last effort raised over £1200! Foreign travel – recent favourites have been The Oman, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. I also do Family History and enjoy taking photographs though I wish I were more competent behind the camera! Other time is spent just enjoying being at home with my husband and 3 cats!

If you are interested receiving Quarternote the BSO Members magazine, please contact Lisa Fletcher to discuss a membership level that is suitable to you. Call Lisa on 01202 644711 or email lfletcher@bsorchestra.co.uk or visit http://www.bsolive.com