The sun sets on another session…

This is a time of year I enjoy greatly – and not only because the opportunity to bolster one of Europe’s sun-drenched but struggling economies approaches. There are performances aplenty. In the secondary sector there was MGS Summer Concert – and then a smaller contingent of the Guitar Ensemble played at the MGS Prize Giving last night. It always amazes me how the smaller group (8 members) sounds louder than the full ensemble (20+) – there’s a psychology/physics PhD in there, I’m sure.

In the purely primary zone, there are two nights of Annie at Wallyford PS. My colleague, Ewan Armstong, is the MD for this and puts in the spade work over many weeks. I simply swan in with a bass guitar on the night(s) and join in. On a personal level, this is one of the year’s most enjoyable musical challenges. There is no written part. The trick is to watch what Ewan is playing and decide, on the hoof, the best thing to compliment it. While it’s important that young people grasp the value of rehearsal – of preparing the music as carefully as possible – I think it’s also important for those hoping to pursue the art, that they see other ways of operating – some of which are thrust upon us from time to time. The closing night is this evening. If it’s anything like the miraculous opening night then it will be great.

My final visit to Campie for this session ended with a concert by guitarists in P5-P7 for the P4s – from whose ranks next year’s guitarists will emerge.  I was really thrilled by this event. The pupils played excellently and we were able to squeeze in a few more courageous soloists than was the case during the school’s Musical Evening a couple of weeks earlier. Especially promising was the rapt attention of the P4 pupils and their intelligent questions and observations.

Transition is often where the fun is. Pupils from Campie PS and Wallyford PS joined the MGS Guitar Ensemble in the Summer Concert. Tomorrow, former pupils from Wallyford – currently at MGS –  will visit the school to join with departing P7s in a performance at the Leavers’ Assembly. I’m always touched by the affectionate regard in which the pupils hold their former school, and with the warm reception they receive from their former teachers. It really is the best way to end the year and helps keep a sense of the big picture.

Have an excellent summer, one and all!

Campie Musical Evening 2012

Last night saw the return of Campie’s Musical Evening, where guitarists perform in addition to brass, recorders and choir. Many thanks to Danny, my ‘recording engineer volunteer’. The guitarists played a mixture of group pieces and solos – ranging in age group from P5-P7. Our guest, Louise – a former pupil, now in S3 – also played a solo.

Here is the guitarists’ programme:

01 Group – The Water is Wide

02 Maggie – Twinkle Twinkle

03 Daniel – Patapan (featuring Daniel’s introduction in French “Je voudrais jouer Patapan”)

04 Group – Symphony Theme

05 Dylan – Spanish Dance  (featuring Dylan’s introduction in Spanish, “Querría tocar Danza Española”)

06 Group – Polish Dance (featuring Daniel counting in the group, in Polish, “Jeden, dwa, trzy, cztery”

07 Hannah – Gypsy Dance

08 Louise – Banjo Bill

09 Luke – Sweet Child of Mine

10 Group – Toccata

A sense of perspective

In the frenzy of end of term concerts, Showcase etc., it’s easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of preparation and lose sight of the big picture – the raison d’être of the job. This was remedied last night when around 30 former pupils came along to the NBHS Spring Concert – the last one for Linda Medine who has taught Music there for many years.

Joining the existing members of the Chorale on stage they performed a beautiful arrangement of Robbie Williams’ Angels – magnificently prepared and directed by Gill Casson. The sound was huge and the whole thing was very moving.

This surprise item really meant a lot to Linda – as she had meant a such lot to them – enough to come from far and wide for a lovely send off. What a nice end to the term.

East Lothian Showcase Play-along Files

New play-along files of our Showcase repertoire have been posted on the Guitar Group Midis page. They are in the same order as they will be on our programme. Begin with the slow ones (low numbers) and build up to the faster ones (highter numbers).

Check the Dates For Your Diary page for rehearsal details.

Tickets (£5) are now on sale from the Queen’s Hall Box Office 0131 668 2019; http://www.thequeenshall.net/about/the-box-office;

85 – 89 Clerk Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9JG (map).

International Guitar Night

On Friday 9 March Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall (map here) is hosting an International Guitar Night, featuring Brian Gore , Lulo Reinhardt (great-nephew of Django Reinhardt) and Adrian Legg.

My lifelong friend, Mike McGeary, Principal Officer Instrumental Music for City of Edinburgh Council, has managed to arrange an free, one-hour concert for pupils – and has extended this offer to pupils in East Lothian Schools. This will also take place in the Queen’s Hall (soon to be scene of our annual Showcase Concert) and will run from 4:00-5:00.

I should stress that this is not an organised school trip. Pupils are expected to organise their own transport – either with parents of friends. Once there, I can vouch for their being instrumental pupils in our schools. Pupils can ask me for more details in the two lessons which remain before that date.

Click on the hyper links for each player to take you to their individual websites – or visit YouTube for more idea of their styles.