Wow, where does the time go? Apologies for lack of blogging, things have been increasingly busy; I did think it was just a momentary blip but it seems not! ;D
Those that know me well will be aware that most years I set myself goals in preparation for the year ahead, and often along with a motto / saying to adhere to (yes, very sad I know!). Well, this years motto was very blunt but I felt it was what was needed! "Just shut up and get on with it!" is the simple advice I am choosing to give myself when I begin to talk myself out of a potentially scary or uncomfortable situation. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not going to start sky diving or bungee jumping or something ludicrous like that (I can't see what I would gain from such an experience apart from losing my lunch!) but it is a quick and effective way of getting the job done.
Already this year there have been many occasions that I have already stepped far out of my comfort zone but felt I had grown / learned as a result afterwards. These include; Playing in front of 2000 people at 'The lion roars' Israel conference in Westminster, London, in February. Church firends will know that I entirely improvise in church worship sessions which I find enjoyable but also stretches me at times; indeed even this morning we played a worship song (usually in the key of F, making me in G on sop sax) and I can only surmise that our leaders transpose button had been accidentaly pressed (or inadvertantly left on from the previous song) kicking us off in a healthy E major (F# for me!) which was ok (I do practice my extended scales you know, in all keys!) but then I got the nod for an instrumental solo. Now I recalled that this particular solo was meant to be the melody and not one of my Keri noodlings so a moment of quick thought and rapid interval guessing saved my bacon! Only one wrong note and I quickly slid it up to sound like a grace note so no one noticed. Great fun! :D
A similar thing happened at the conference; I had done my set with my regular worship team but then was asked to stay on stage and play with a guest team. Now I didn't actually know any of the songs they were to play, and a couple were prophetic and created on the spot! It's a case of quietly play a note or two (away from the mic!) find your key and then GO FOR IT! At one point, again, the (unknown!) leader gave me a nod and (by the grace of God!) out came one of the most tuneful and powerful solo's that had ever emerged. Thank goodness it's by his strength and not ours!
I've become an official member of a twitter formed symphony; @twtrsymphony, you can read more about this in my recent news post but again it is stretching me and making me think / look at music on a different level.
I'm thoroughly loving improving my accompanying skills on piano, and any spare moment (or after a stressful day!) I usually find it's my sanctuary. Things seem to be steadily improving and I enjoy it enormously.
www.masquerade-music.co.uk continues to grow and keeps me busy. With a growing number of free resources for woodwind players the site stats are improvong month by month. I'm writing a celtic collection that I'm excited about as it's a genre that I feel a natural affinity towards. I even got a tweet from the marvelous Bill Whelan (composer of the Riverdance music) which entirely made my day!
After faffing about for many many months, I have decided to dig in again to recording my first CD, though I must complete current projects first. My teaching schedule is very healthy, if not overflowing, and a new venture for Spring has been my introduction of monthly ensemble workshops for my students. We meet once a month for 1 1/2 hours and play ensemble music; pretty basic stuff initially as most have not played in a group before. The idea is to build confidence, give students a focus for their practice, and hear the wonderful sounds that an ensemble can make. The first one last month was a huge success and students appreciated the light hearted nature and fun warm ups I had devised (who knew that I could command my students to be my handbells and clang on demand!). I'll be setting up a second ensemble soon for more confident players and to give beginner players something to aspire to.
On Friday I had a photography session with the talented Paul Tombs; http://www.ptgraphics.co.uk I think we challenged each other (in the best possible way!) I had to get myself mentally 'there' to achieve good results, whilst poor Paul had to learn to try and understand the complexities of how a female's mind works; good luck with that! Anyway, I can't praise him enough and hopefully some new pictures will be appearing in the gallery soon.....
Oh....and I've been "shutting up and getting on with it!" via a series of singing workshops (only done one so far!) the idea is; if I can look a complete fool doing vocal warm ups, grinning like a cheshire cat, write my name with my tongue (I kid you not! ;) and various likewise activities.......to be fair, I can do anything!
Anyway, better pop off for now but thank you so much for stopping by :)