Month: August 2017

Admiral Hardy Open Mic Update

The fun and games continue at the Admiral Hardy Open Mic Night in Greenwich with The Reeds.

Recorded 3/8/17

XBY at the World Music Conference

On the weekend of 22nd-23rd July, I attended the World Music Conference in Kerkrade, The Netherlands. I competed in the first division of the international wind ensemble competition as tenor saxophonist with XBY Concert Band.

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I am delighted to say that XBY received a gold medal for its performances of Philip Sparke’s The Unknown Journey, a whirlwind tour of angular atonal melodies, frenetic textural collages and luscious Ravellian orchestrations, and Frank Ticheli’s Angels in the Architecture, a musical exploration of the conflict between biblical good and evil, juxtaposed with Jewish and Renaissance folk melodies and featuring musical whirly-tubes and wineglasses.

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NCS: The Challenge

In July I worked on two waves of The Challenge with the National Citizenship Service as a music practitioner in Thornton Heath and South Croydon. My role, over the course of three days, was to teach a group of twelve 16-18 year-olds to play samba music with a percussion set and prepare a performance for a show-case on the final day.

I was hugely impressed with batucada.jpghow quickly both teams got the hang of the various instruments and the interlocking Brazilian rhythms. We made such good progress that they began devising their own cover versions of their favourite songs to perform alongside the traditional Samba Batucada.

For the young participants, NCS offers invaluable experience of leadership, independent learning and community outreach. Its focus on artistic disciplines including music, drama, art, photography and film-making is sorely needed at a time when these subjects are being dropped in many schools for lack of funding.

ncsMost crucially, The Challenge encourages young people to become involved in their local community and share their new skills and enthusiasm. In Thornton Heath the group visited an elderly people’s day centre where we got to know the service users and entertained them with Reggae and Gospel songs. I found this to be particularly rewarding. From South Croydon, the group took two buses over to Anerley where they introduced the children at a youth club to the samba rhythms I had taught them earlier that day.

I believe the 16-18 year-olds learn more essential life-skills in the three weeks of The Challenge than in a year spent studying for pedantic, learn-by-rote exams. The application of newly-acquired knowledge in a team challenge serves as an effective mnemonic device. But most indispensably, bringing knowledge into a social setting and associating it with play encourages its further exploration and expansion. It is my opinion that the exam-centric framework of learning encourages dogmatism. The Challenge instead fosters autodidacticism. Perhaps we have here a model for a more well-rounded, progressive education system. Reform is on the horizon and I feel optimistic.

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I feel priveleged to have met so many creative, hard-working and committed people through NCS, both staff and participants, and hope to reprise the role next time the course is running.