Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Music lessons go into orbit!

Yesterday, I attended the launch event of Musical Orbit, a website that offers online one-to-one music lessons with top musicians.

Having an occasional hour with a top musician can be a great supplement to someone's ongoing musical training, adding that vital one or two percent of quality and polish that enhances an exam result or concert performance, or makes the difference between success or failure at an important audition.

I know from my own experience that a small piece of advice or an insightful observation from someone successful at the highest levels of professional music making can be immensely valuable.

Here is a personal story of mine that demonstrates what I mean. I was having one of my first lessons with Philip Cannon, who was then Professor of Composition at the Royal College of Music. He made one small comment about my compositions that, as you will see from my story, had a profound effect upon my music making (and approach to things in general):    

 Click Here to read my story.
It was very clear from talking with Nicole Wilson (founder of Musical Orbit) that making affordable top quality music lessons easily and widely available to as many people as possible is a passion for her, and it is this passion, plus her many contacts in the musical world, that has made Musical Orbit the success it is.

So, if you are looking for that nugget of insight or wisdom that could make your performances truly memorable (for all the right reasons), why not go into Orbit?    


Friday, 10 April 2015

Explore what lies between

Many regard Charles Ives, an American composer of the latter nineteenth and early twentieth century, as one of the founding fathers of modern music. Even now, those who choose to listen to his music will find it wonderfully outrageous and original: an alternative reality composed of sounds that are a joy to explore.

Charles Ives’s father, George, probably planted the seeds of his son's musical originality. George Ives was a US Army bandmaster who had a very creative approach to the musical education of his son. George introduced his son to bi-tonality and polytonality (techniques that only the most modern of composers were beginning to use) and as Charles played the piano, his father encouraged him to listen for "the sounds between the notes": for the sound world within the cracks of music’s traditional structures, tones and harmonies.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Charles Ives went very much his own way as a composer, seeking out sounds that have more in common with the subtle and complexly dissonant sound world that surrounds our everyday existence than the tidied up scales and harmonies of traditional music.

The orchestral piece "Central Park in the Dark" is a prime example of Charles Ives’s style. It creates a tone picture of a city park after dark. The atmosphere within the park is created by strangely and darkly harmonised strings, and other glistening snippets of sound and half-heard melodies impinge upon this "sound of darkness" as if from far away within the surrounding, ever awake city. The overall effect of this piece was revolutionary in its day and remains immensely evocative (and strangely attractive) for those who experience it today.

When we are looking for new perspectives that could help us deal with the challenges we face, it can be fruitful to explore what lies between our fully formed and realised thoughts. 

Explore what lies between your thinking by doing some of the following:
  • Identifying what nobody is talking about or considering.
  • Asking what you and others are assuming is not part of the problem.
  • Giving yourself and others permission to express feelings and intuitions as well as facts and opinions.
  • Verbalising your thoughts and encouraging others to do the same.
  • Allowing time and space for partially expressed ideas to become fully discernible.
  • Making a point of looking for connections and links that others are not seeing.
  • Listening out for the ideas and opinions of those people to whom nobody listens.
Follow on Twitter @charles_lines