Friday, August 19, 2005

rock on, contemporary music

august 19th

Current level of conviction in own genius (out of 10): 7
Hours of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: imparting much creative knowledge, complete with madly-enthused hand-waving
Hair day: bit sweaty

Coming to the end of my sojourn in Epsom, which has felt like its own little micro-planet – am going to have to get out of the cycle of three cooked meals on the dot (just as well - cooked breakfasts, obscure vegetable/bread bakes, soapy mousse and highly-sugared coffee are turning me into a right bloater) and a strict timetable of work and play amongst the coiffured lawns and creaky pipes…have had to log on to the Guardian website for my daily injection of current events (very sad about Mo Mowlam, lots of crazy plane crashings making me never want to set foot in an air terminal, need to absorb more about Gaza etc).

But it’s been great here, with intense tutoring sessions balanced by hard-drinking evenings shouting at the table football men for being so regimentally undisciplined whilst yelling lustily to the Kaiser Chiefs. My students have really been most impressive in creative output: tomorrow is recording day, and there will be 20 substantial compositions to perform, including quirky tangos, slightly pastoral cheese, a superb WW2-themed battle piece that keeps threatening to lapse into the ‘Casualty’ theme, a nod to Glass-y minimalism and some extremely nuanced avant-garde works. No surprise that our oldest students have breezed through their A-Levels and are off to York and Cambridge. Clever and charming kids.

Elsewhere, the younger kids have been writing shorter pieces but having much fun with improvisation sessions, as demonstrated in their concert tonight. We had abstract pieces based on Kandinksy involving Bee Gees discos and war dances, others earnestly depicting nuclear war’s effects on forests, and most impressively, a group’s response to a few scenes from Metropolis!!! Not only that, but it was more effective and affecting than the hammer dulcimer/Murnau South Bank gig of a weeks back. Really inspiring and inspired stuff!!!! It makes me enthused about the idea of getting 30 10-year-olds to improvise handheld percussion soundtracks to surrealist silent movies and making my Junior Trinity students write music for juice in response to abstract expressionist paintings etc!!! Am rather dreading the heavy teaching schedule, but must just remember weeks like this and how much these kids have got out of it.

At the other end of the scale, the most fun I had today was co-ordinating the 3-part vocals (and hula-hula swaying) to our version of ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’, complete with 6 guitarists and samba drumming. Proper music, I say… ho ho.


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