As we come to the end of another school year...
... I am feeling very happy with what has happened over the last few months. Another successful exam session with distinctions and merits among all the passes. As I write, I am still waiting for the certificates to arrive in the post, but I have emailed everyone to congratulate them.
I have just visited Katherine Lady Berkeley's School in Wotton to meet the head teacher and the head of music with a view to teaching the brass there from September. There are currently only a couple of students there but hopefully that will increase over the next few years. I am really looking forward to this opportunity as I teach in a couple of the feeder primary schools and I will be able to see the continuity of my students.
Last week I had the priviledge of playing my trombone in a brand new school production written by the head of Expressive Arts and the head of Music (with a little help from their friends and family). This was a fabulous show, very well produced, choreographed, written and performed. Over the summer holidays there will be a dvd produced and maybe a soundtrack which I hope to be able to share.
Next term I hope to be involved in a different school's production of Hairspray; some great music which I am really looking forward to.
It's been a while...
...and lots of things have happened in the last 3 months. The latest news is that all the students who took exams this term have passed and most with a Merit. I'm really pleased for all of them, from those that did their first exam to my grade 7 trombone player. The next exams are in June/July and anybody who wants to try needs to prove they are ready by the end of April. I suspect I will have a lot of students entering next term... get practising those scales!
Last month also saw the National Brass Band Championships: the biggest brass band contest in the country where every band tries for promotion up the league tables. City of Bristol Brass Band competed, playing Edward Gregson's The Plantagenets (as did every other band in the second section) and was very pleased with the performance when they came off the stage. Unfortunately it was not to be for us, being placed 7th out of 16 bands. This places us in a good position for next year's championship... but that's next year! I'm looking forward to competing with the Band again in May at the Weston-super-Mare Own Choice contest.
I have bought me a new trombone. I have been after a large bore trombone with a trigger for some time and earlier in the year I was able to get one. It plays really well and I am really happy to have it. It does mean that I now have to do my Grade 8 Trombone, as a condition set down by my wife for buying the 'bone. (The trombone is one instrument I have not done any exams on.)
Back to work on Monday for the long term that is Summer (14 weeks!). Keep practising!
It's been a good start to the year so far... Many students have practised at least once over the Christmas holidays and some have even been preparing for their exams. Six pupils have been entered: grades 1 to 7 and on cornets, a trumpet and a trombone. I will notifiy everybody of the exam dates and times as soon as I know (which should be by the middle of February).
I have been having so much fun with my new plastic trombone! It has gone down a storm with all of my students (old and young, beginner and advanced!) as well as my colleagues! This is such a great trombone for anybody, especially younger students who may not handle instruments as well as their parents would like them to and comes at a fraction of the cost of even a budget 'bone!
For more information on these fantastic instruments, visit plastictrombone.co.uk/.
I am busy preparing Edward Gregson's The Plantagenets with the City of Bristol Brass Band at the moment. The test piece will be played in Torquay on 9th March by us and 15 other bands hoping for a place in the National Brass Band Championships Finals in September and to gain promotion.
What a month, indeed! I have had exam successes, band contest succeses and new pupils. City of Bristol Brass Band have been preparing for two contests held last month, one in Ross, for the Gloucestershire Brass Band Association, and the other in Loughborough, for the Leicestershire Brass Band Association. The piece chosen for both own-choice contests was Bruce Broughton's California Legend, a challenging piece from the start! Both contests were well-fought against some decent bands but in the end City of Bristol were successful in both contest, being placed first by two different adjudicators.
The Band's Christmas concert was a great success, too with pieces from our Wychavon programme to James Bond to the odd Christmas piece or two! The Learner Band performed very well too and the final item with the combined bands was superb!
I have just received news that my 3 candidates who sat their ABRSM exams last week have all passed, two with a merit! This is really pleasing for everyone, especially as one was not feeling so well and indeed was off school the previous day!
And finallly I look forward to seeing some new pupils next term, both in schools and privately.
I have found a couple of really useful items in the last week. First is a video promoting the Shining Brass series; this is the set of books commissioned and published by the ABRSM for use in their exams. The aim of these books is to promote cross-instrument tuition and make the syllabus more contemporary and up-to-date. I have found them a very exciting new series with some excellent works from both new and established composers.
Next is a website for helping with your theory. How boring?! Actually, it's quite adictive and one I shall be sharing with my trombone students who are trying to learn a new clef! I was sat here at my computer having fun (whilst knowing the answers, of course!).
The pages I was using were found under the Trainer drop-down box --> Brass. Choose your instrument and practise your valves or slide positions for each note!
The date of my pupils' exams should be known by the beginning of November. If you have been entered, then you should know before Wednesday, 7th November, and as usual I will email you as soon as I know.
And a final thought... I was once again very impressed by the service of Normans Musical Instruments. I ordered a new gig bag from them on Sunday (via a retail website) and the bag arrived today (Tuesday); a really efficient and value-for-money company! Just what I need to walk to the concert on Friday...
It was great to meet Angus and Flora last week. They came along for their first lesson with me and seemed to enjoy themselves. They are both established players and could be very fine musicians. At least Angus came back today! (Flora was on a school trip, so I'll let her off this week!)
I have also had an email today with the potential of a new school. I hope to hear back from them this week to see if we can work together, but I really hope this will be a success.
I have been invited to help out with Wotton Training Band next week (as a player). It so great to see a thriving training band, giving access to music making for children and even better to know that most of the band are my students! They are performing at St. James the Great Church, Dursley, on Friday, 19th October. Details can be found on Wotton Band's website.
I have been back at work for a couple of weeks after the summer holidays and things have settled down to a comfortable routine. I have more private students and new schools (and a revised weekly timetable!) and everything is running very smoothly (so far).
This term I have only entered three candidates for ABRSM exams, so an easier run for me, though no less easy for my students! Their exams should take place in December, but I will notify parents and student as soon as I find out. I am really looking forward to next term, as I shall get to use the new publication Shining Brass, specifically written for the exams and encompassing all instruments in the brass family except trumpet and trombone (which have only just had a new syllabus). The children who have started playing these have taken to them really well and things are looking good.
The City of Bristol Brass Band have played in a few events over the summer holiday. Most notably, we played at the Wychavon Festival of Brass entertainments contest in Droitwich. The Band, though having drawn the dreaded number one slot, didn't disgrace themselves by being placed fourth. I got to perform Another Fine Mess, the euphonium duet based on tunes used in Laurel and Hardy films and (apart from my dancing) I didn't do too badly. Next up are two own-choice test piece contests.
I finally have the bulk of my exam results through and I am really pleased to see that everyone has passed, with one pass, three merits and two distinctions! It is really encouraging to see so many students who want to do exams and succeed. I am still waiting to hear the results from 3 exams, but I would hope not to have to wait too long.
As for my ears, well, they are not entirely recovered but at least I can hear out of both of them, even if I have to pop them every now and again!
I had a very successful day last Saturday: July 7th saw the Gloucestershire Brass Band Association's 75th Anniversary Celebrations at Highnam Court, Gloucester, and I was fortunate enough to play with 3 of the 20 bands performing that day. All on trombone! I have never been to Highnam Court and played euphonium yet, in 3 visits and with 4 bands! I am really looking forard to hearing the CD of the day which is being produced at the moment.
I may yet have another opportunity to play trombone with Portishead Band in the Pershore Midsummer Brass event on 21st July. I am actually really enjoying it at the moment and I think if ever the opportunity arises in City of Bristol, I might make it a permanent thing.
I have been to visit a school in Cirencester in which I will start teaching from September. Having finished teaching at two schools (where the pupils have moved on to secondary school), it is really comforting to know that there are other opportunities for me.
So half term is almost over and I still cannot hear anything from my left ear! The ear infection is really getting to me now - it's been nearly three weeks and all the different medications prescribed to me don't appear to be doing anything. I can only hope it clears over the weekend.
I have now got the exam date for my Associated Board entry - Thursday, 28th June in the morning. Only 6 pupils this time, a little more relaxing than in previous terms! So get practising - that's less than three weeks away!
That's it; the entries for exams have been submitted. Good luck to all who have entered, but don't forget to practise! There's loads of time this weekend... #BankHoliday!