What a week - The first blog

Crazy first week of January. I am already behind on writing my blogs/articles. I was lucky enough to be asked to be involved in a brand new brass project. I will post more on this in the next few weeks once the project gets a full press release. Very excited to be playing in a new group though.

Back to school with a bang, being a Director of Music takes its toll. Monday was superb, with Guitar Ensemble, Wind Band and Orchestra all being on the agenda. For this to happen, I have to make sure the Wind Band and Orchestra all have the music printed/photocopied with ideas of what will challenge them. I do a lot of arrangements for the ensembles at school to make sure that the music is appropriate. I try to choose one piece that the students will enjoy and one that will benefit them focusing on pedagogy, instrumental technique, awkward keys and difficult rhythms. It is a hard balance to find, if I find a piece that fulfils all aspects, win-win!

It has been a great week in the department, we launched Skoove  This is the first time I have used this at my new school. (If you didn’t know, I became Director of Music at Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School in September.) I launched this at my previous school and it was a huge success. The students really liked it. You can read an article here and here is my quote that appeared in a few educational magazines and websites last year “Skoove is a superb supplement to music education within our school. It is a motivational tool that broadens, deepens and consolidates musical learning. With the class fully engaged in their learning, Skoove gives us the opportunity to spend quality one-one time with students who require extra support within the classroom. I would recommend Skoove to further the learning in schools and look forward to their future apps.” Sounds very fancy and it really is. Students get on independently learning to play the piano, it also teaches them about theory whilst they are playing but breaks everything down into manageable chunks for learning. I have seen some students make more progress in an hour with skoove than 2-3 weeks of class music lessons. It isn’t just aimed at beginners, I have had some grade 5 students find pieces to work on within lessons. What excites me, is to embed this into schemes of work. When we do music from China as a topic, I can’t wait to use the pentatonic scales part of Skoove, this will then equip the students with the tools to be creative within their own compositions. Everything I am trying to do is to equip students with the tools to be creative and find their own voice and I am really enjoying helping Skoove to develop the software further.

Friday ended with a great day at the @S4EMusic @musicsolihull #musicedconference2018 #ACEsupported. There were many guest speakers with the highlight for me being Martin Fautley. Martin is the foremost expert for music assessment and presents his ideas with humour in a “clear” (hope Martin likes this in joke) manner. I look forward to reading his next research project and hope that he will be coming to see Skoove in action soon. I received CPD on the new GCSE, really handy to hear the exam board’s views on what they want us and the students to achieve.

Trumpet playing has been a little touch and go. Returning to work leaves me lacking time, I know I should practice what I preach and play every day, but it just does not happen nowadays. I have been using my Youtube channel to stay in shape. Just doing the lip bend routine seems to work the aperture and my chops just enough to keep me in shape not to make a fool of myself. On Thursday night, I had an IT issue which meant I had to stay in work waiting for a computer to complete a task. I made best use of the time and put some facetime in. I started working on A Night in Tunisia. There is a trumpet challenge to record ANIT on one of the Facebook groups I am a member in. I thought this might be a fun task to do over the month and it will allow me to spend some much needed time on improvising. Over the next week I hope to do a few more Youtube videos featuring triple tonguing, a few more Arban exercises and a jazz idea that I have. What will you be working on?

The first article/blog

A new year and new projects ahead - 05/01/2018

Well, I thought it was time to actually start publicising what I do outside of the classroom a little more, mainly my brass playing, composing,arranging and youtube channel. I might also write about what I do in the classroom too, but that may bore the hell out of you. This is just a brief hello so I can test the site and check that it is working. More content will arrive here once I have tested everything. Writing 2018 for the first time feels really weird, it will soon become second nature after a few days at school next week.