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In the fourth and final week of the Trad Academy 'Play Folk Tunes' course, we covered a Scottish tune called 'The Drunken Piper'. Really it feels like a march but can be played as a reel. I learnt it as the main tune that's used for the Scottish country dance 'The Reel of the 51st [...]

In the second week of the Trad Academy 'Play Folk Tunes' course, we covered two English quicksteps in G from Lincolnshire, 'Louth Quickstep' and 'Market Rasen Quickstep'. I learnt them from Steve Blake, but their 'original' source (as far back as these things can be traced) seems to be the 1823 Joshua Gibbons manuscript. Here's [...]

In the second week of the Trad Academy 'Play Folk Tunes' course, we covered two American old-time fiddle tunes (dance tunes in 4/4 time from the southern states of America, usually Appalachia). 'Cumberland Gap' is a well-known standard. There are many different versions around, we did a 3-part version in D. It's also a tune [...]

In the first week of the Trad Academy 'Play Folk Tunes' course, we covered two jigs (dance tunes in 6/8 time). 'Oats and Beans' is a 3-part English tune - I learnt it from fiddle player Steve Blake, but it's a well known one. 'Galloping Nag' is a 2-part Welsh tune that I learnt from [...]

Violin for ‘boisterous’ children

This is something I'm thinking about partly because of situations in my teaching, and partly because I watched the BBC's documentary "Will Britain Ever Have a Black Prime Minister?" this morning. (You can check it out on iplayer or YouTube) Incidentally, this programme was brought to my attention by a fantastic young musician and composer, [...]

Exercise and Art

Lots of famous composers claimed that walking helped them clear their minds and was integral to their working schedule. I've never doubted that exercise in general makes me feel better, and helps with all the aches and pains that come from sitting too long at a desk or piano. The other day I came across [...]

Day in the life of a composer

Having done a day about my life as a folk musician, I'd like to share a composer-ly day as comparison. I've chosen Thursday of last week, because it was especially busy! I got up reasonably early, but no jogging this time - just straight into the studio by 8.45 to do some final mixing on [...]

Bellingham Festival

Last Saturday was a not untypical day for me. I got up early, went for a short jog (that part is not typical!) and then headed of to Lewisham to teach for their Saturday Music Centre. This is a job that I've been really enjoying this year, I have a great variety of teaching, the [...]

Risking Failure?

So I did my first ever Jezami gig at the wonderfully spooky Averard Hotel in Lancaster Gate, courtesy of the lovely Rose and Penny of the Surround. First gigs are always funny, especially if it's just you and loads of technology that could go wrong. I felt pretty comfortable with this one though, despite a [...]

On launches

Last week I 'launched' my new project, Jezami, which is a performance project combining my interests in electronics and composition with my performance skills. Using the word 'launch' felt a bit silly, as basically it just meant that I published the facebook page and invited people to 'like' it... In a way, it's just me [...]