Category Archives: Practice

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;;

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


I received a nice pingback on a recent post today on the Mind Over Music blog by Justin Yanowicz and Judy Crook. Having been in touch with Nina Krauss, the director of the work mentioned on my original post, and discovering that we will both be attending The Neurosciences and Music conference in June, today’s unexpected tie-in was further proof of the ease with which the internet can bring together those with a shared interest, connecting and amplifying learning.

What I liked in particular was their advice to delay cognitive ageing: “Speak several languages daily and keep playing your instrument.” Easier said than done or, as I like to say when pupils suggest insurmountability, “difficult, but not impossible.”

The end of remembering

As revision classes kick off in East Lothian schools, I chanced upon an interesting talk, on LSE podcasts, about learning and memory by science journalist, Joshua Foer – author of Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything. Entitled The End of Remembering, this turned out not to be exactly the talk I was expecting. While the risks of outsourcing our memories and memorising skills to technology is certainly touched upon, there is more in the way of practical advice and theory of learning: Baker/baker paradox; spatial memory and mnemonics; cognitive/associative/autonomous phases of learning a skill (Fitts and Posner).

Although the mp3 of the talk lasts for 1:04:01, much of this is given over to questions. The talk lasts for 26 mins.
An interesting coining in the Q&A was artificial synaesthesia – choosing to summon up and make use of making use of the kind of associations about which synaesthetes have no choice.

You can download/listen to the talk here.

Showcase Rehearsal No. 4/6

There’s always a payback. Today’s payback for some guitar pupils came in the form of a tough rehearsal. Having missed out on December’s snow-damned rehearsal for the East Lothian Showcase Concert,* we really had to press on. We rehearsed solidly for 45 minutes, had a 10 minute break before resuming for a further 40 minutes. This left just enough time for us to pack away before 2/3 of the group boarded buses to complete their 24-mile round trip. Being a Friday afternoon, some of the pupils looked pale with weariness and struggled with concentration. However, not one squeak of complaint was heard and the amount of work covered and improvement in evidence extremely impressive.

As if getting the upper hand on 5 x A4 pages of music weren’t enough**, six pupils stayed behind to grapple with a further 3 pages of accompaniments to songs for this year’s NBHS PTA Burns Supper, which will take place on Fri 4 Feb. Next week’s work experience meant that we really had to press on and last week’s Higher Prelims meant that some pupils were really up against it.

I feel that there exists a point in a notional spectrum where pressure turns into stress. The tricky part in this process occurs when distributing the ensemble parts at the start of the session. Seven months will pass between dishing out parts for the first piece and the concert and a great deal can change in that time. I always hope to gauge the right point in the following line when allocating parts:

will learn nothing as the part is so easy that it’s boring//will just manage comfortably//will learn a lot but will need to raise one’s game//will struggle//will despair..

I hope I’ve got it right.

Hats off to all concerned for sterling efforts today!

* East Lothian Showcase Concert – Tue 22 March @ 19:30 in Queens Hall.

** Each pupil has, in fact, 7 pages to master but we decided to leave one piece aside today as the main complications lay in the other two pieces.

Guitar Group Midis

New play-along midi files for NBHS PTA Burns Supper (Fri 4 Feb at 19:00) have been posted on the Guitar Group Midis page.

Next Tuesday’s lunchtime rehearsal (18 Jan) will be entirely devoted to this and, perhaps, the latter part of the full Guitar Ensemble rehearsal on Tue 25 Jan. We may also have an opportunity to practise after the next East Lothian Guitar Group rehearsal on Fri 21 Jan. Don’t forget, you can always get together without me any other day of the week 🙂