Reading My Way Around the World

Friday 30 June 2017

The deaf piano teacher #WATWB

It's the end of yet another month and time for We Are The World Blogfest which is happening on the last Friday of every month this year and encourages us to share a positive news story of human interest. 

It is co-hosted by a group of bloggers and this month the task is shared by Belinda Witzenhausen,  Lynn Hallbrooks,  Michelle WallaceSylvia McGrath, Sylvia Stein.
Please go and visit them and read the stories they're sharing.  

Sunday 25 June 2017

Fun with photos for the new album

We're still debating a title for our new CD - the working title is "Together," - because we're both singing on it and we're a duo etc ...  but we're both feeling it's not quite right.  There's a couple of days yet to decide.   But apart from that, progress is well on its way - we're in the final days of mixing and getting artwork and photos done alongside that.   It's a bit like tidying in all the loose threads on a massive patchwork quilt - great fun.

It's hard getting photos of a couple that don't look like wedding photos - so I wanted to share a few of the fun photos we got - probably never be used for anything serious.

I have a condition called Sjogrens Syndrome which leaves my eyes very sensitive to light.  For the last CD cover I wore sunglasses and felt really stupid - but this photographer, when I said I needed glasses, suggested Tom put them on as well. So we had a good laugh pretending to be the Blues Brothers - and turning out more like Peters and Lee as some smart alec suggested :)  Poor Tom's knees were wrecked having to come down to my height!

Check out our Kickstarter campaign, if you fancy pre-ordering the CD,  which will be launched at the end of July at our local folk festival.  I'll preview a few songs over the next couple of weeks.

Monday 12 June 2017

Have a good week

Took an hour out on Saturday evening to drive around the Forest Drive at Magho in Co. Fermanagh - the sun coming through the trees was beautiful after a very showery couple of days.  We've had a very busy week in the studio, recording extra bits from some of our very talented musician friends - double bass, fiddle, lead guitar, mandolin and whistles have all now been added, and as a special bonus, we recorded my community choir, Singmarra, who are singing harmonies on one of the songs.  By the time we got down to Fermanagh to see my mum on Saturday we really needed a nice walk to clear our heads.   This forest drive is beautiful.  More pics to come.

We're reeling here after yet another chaotic election aftermath - it is going to be fun to watch what happens in the next few months now that the Democratic Unionist Party from Northern Ireland are in the role of Kingmakers after the Conservatives didn't get the majority they needed in the General Election.  Over here we don't get to vote for Labour or Conservative and it is extremely frustrating that our politics is still very tribally based - on a Nationalist/Unionist divide - with no real issues being discussed, only tribal allegiances.  Sadly the middle ground parties that would appeal to those of us who don't want to vote Orange and Green were all ousted.  And to top it all, the main nationalist party, Sinn Fein, won't sit in a British Parliament, so half the population here has only got the voice of abstentionism to represent them.  It is way past time that they got over this ideal.   They sit in Government in the South of Ireland and don't agree with their ideals either.   Anyway, that's the update.  

Every time I try to write about our political situation here I end up tying myself in knots as we have a very confusing political system that most of us have trouble understanding, so trying to explain it to outsiders is next to nigh impossible.   Suffice it to say that the DUP are an extremely conservative party and it will be interesting to see how things progress with them in Westminster and how people in England will take to their extreme views.   Although on a positive note, while they are pro Brexit, they do not want a hard border here - that was the biggest fear in Ireland that there would be a return to Customs and border controls once Britain comes out of Europe, as the only physical border with Europe is between the North and South of this island.

Now that I've totally confused you, I'll wish you a happy, peaceful, safe and productive week and head back to my microphone - we're finishing vocals this week, getting photographs taken, sorting out artwork and then start mixing at the weekend.  Loving it.

Sunday 4 June 2017

Kindness Challenge Reflection Week 3 - Self Acceptance

If you're following along with Niki's Kindness Challenge, you'll know that for the first three weeks Niki has prompted us to look at kindness to ourselves in various ways.   And this week it was the oh so important Self Acceptance.   You can check out some of the other participants here.  That is a particularly hard one for artists of all kinds and for musicians in particular...

So if you're a musician or have one in the family, this is for you.

I read an article recently from research done at an English University, that depression is very high in musicians - more than 65% out of the study group of 2200 said they'd suffered from depression as opposed to 11-15% in the general population.
And one of the reasons they came up with was doing a job that other people considered not to be a proper job and the lack of support therein.  Oh boy - I know that one well.   And as co-host of the local folk club I hear the same phrase from nearly every musician who plays there, no matter how successful they have been in their career or what age they are, they still talk about their mother or a well meaning friend asking when are you going to get a real job?!!

If you're interested you can read more on the research here and also read some excellent expansions on the theme and suggestions both for musicians and for their families and friends to combat this - especially useful for young musicians starting out.  Cari Cole Music Ltd

I've always struggled with accepting my voice and my own musical ability.  These short essays have come along at the right time, in the middle of a new recording and I'm learning to practice what I preach - spend more time doing the work and less time beating yourself up about the bits you can't do.  And I'm finally learning to accept the voice I've been given.

I tell everyone of my students how wonderful they are and how much they have improved each week.  And for  the people in my singing group - who all collectively and individually think they can't sing - my role, as I see it, is to encourage, to praise and to honestly tell them how wonderful they sound together.  I never ever give a negative comment ( or try my best not to anyway).

But until now I am guilty of never telling myself well done for finding the right songs to make the group sound like that, or for the results of the hours of guitar, piano and voice practice that have allowed me to easily enjoy playing on this recording, or for accepting my own musical  knowledge which has come from 50 years of constant work and which enthrals and thrills me more and more with each passing year - when I allow myself the time to nurture it and not constantly beat myself up about what I don't know or can't do.

So after three weeks of focussing on self care and self kindness I have learned a lot.   As Brene Brown said in the excellent video Niki posted as part of the blog announcing this week's theme, this is a daily practice, something you have to be aware of all the time, daily, even hourly at times.   So, no, it's not fixed, but it's been a good start.

Now we're moving on for the next few weeks from self kindness

Friday 2 June 2017

Five bits of Music Trivia

I love useless information - probably the result of watching so many quiz shows - we're addicted to The Chase in this house.  An ageing opera singer who lives near here told me once: "Dahling, you must have another interest outside of your music, or you will go crazy - in my case I watch football!"  Good advice, so we ended up getting addicted to quiz programmes lol

So for today's Five on Friday here's some useless information related to music.

1.  The Longest Song Title in the World

"I'm a Cranky Old Yank In A Clanky Old Tank On The Streets of Yokohama With My Honolulu Mama Down' Those Beat-o, Beat-o Flat-on-my-seat-o, Hirohito Blues" !!   Recorded by Hoagy Carmichael in 1942.
What a Mouthful!  Here's Bing Crosby singing it.

2. Water Music

Most toilets flush in E flat - something to think about!

3.  Mozart ...

was only five when he wrote the melody that is now sung to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

4.  Beatles

At the end of the Beatles song "A Day in the Life", an ultrasonic whistle audible only to dogs was recorded by Paul McCartney for this Shetland sheepdog.

5.  The Ice Cream Code

In another lifetime I used to drive an ice cream van - for about three weeks, by which time I had eaten more than sold and found a real job for a while.   But did you know there's a Code of Practice for ice cream vans?  Penned in 1982.
And it states that you should not sound chimes ....

  • for longer than four seconds at a time
  • more often than once every three minutes
  • when the vehicles is stationary
  • when in sight of another van that is trading
  • when within 50m of schools during school time or of places of worship during worship times
  • more often than once every two hours in the same street  
There y'are now, as Frank Carson would say. 

Joining in today with FAST for Five on Friday.   Thank you to Tricky and Carly for hosting.