Category Archives: Reporting

Nava Rasa Ensemble on YouTube

Guitarist and former Knox pupil, Simon Thacker, has posted three videos on YouTube featuring his recent East-West project with the Nava Rasa Ensemble. This film features: Simon explaining the origin of and ideas behind the project; rehearsal footage; interviews with members of the ensemble. Look out for waterphone at 0:16; the fantastic Brazilian/Scots accent of Maria Lima Caribé da Rocha at 0:47

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This film features extracts from Shirish Korde‘s piece Nada Ananda, concerto for guitar and chamber ensemble:

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This film features the final movement of Nigel Osborne‘s The Birth of Naciteka for guitar concertante:

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All three films feature explanatory notes to the right of the screen.

It’s interesting to note that Simon, who left school before the digital revolution, as we currently understand the term, was underway, has effortlessly harnessed technology in the service of communicating his art to as wide an audience as possible.

Arms and gender wars

Having written on gender once or twice I was interested to hear, on a Guardian Science Weekly Podcast about a some experiments intended to put some gender stereotypes to the test. Some of the tests were to be used at an event last night entitled War of the Sexes at the Science Museum’s DANA Centre.

In the podcast, Professor Geoff Sanders describes tests designed to measure tracking ability – basically using a joystick to track a moving dot on a computer screen. In one version, a short joystick was controlled by the hand and wrist alone. In another, a longer joystick needed to be controlled by the shoulder and arm. It seems that women tend to be better at the former and men at the latter. Professor Saunders posits an evolutionary reason for this. One would think then that there would be, for example, more male cellists and trombonists and more female trumpeters and woodwind players. I wonder how to go about collecting the statistics on that…..

Had I not lived so far from the venue, I’d have been interested in attending an event like this. As it was, I was at a parents evening where the stats were:

Girls 45%    Boys 55%

Mums 50%    Dads 50%

Speaking of statistics, would it be stretching the spirit of the law to suggest that unnecessarily vague language constitutes a breach of the Freedom of Information Act? As a parent, which would you rather see?

Attendance – generally good


Attendance – 14/16 (missed 26 Nov & 13 Jan)



Sadly, an able pupil is moving away to another part of the UK. I was asked for a reference in order that, once there, full musical entitlement might continue. Happy to oblige, I wrote a short history of achievement and was keen to point out that a detailed musical portrait of the pupil already existed in the form of mp3 recordings of:

• solo performing
• participation in the school Guitar Group
• participation in the East Lothian Guitar Ensemble

I contacted the school concerned and arranged to send the reference electronically. The hyperlinks have been passed onto the Music Department.

I hadn’t really considered this aspect of evidence before. The benefits of such a learning space for the stationary pupil, parents and staff seem obvious. For a pupil changing schools, a portrait seems better a better way to convey information than a descritpion – and a self-portrait better still.

Knocks Academy

Despite having been a pupil at Knox for 5 years and having taught there at least one day-per-week for 25.5 years, the first time I sat through an entire concert in the school hall was last Friday. Normally, I’m on stage or backstage with pupils or en route between the two.

So it was a real pleasure to sit, free of duties, through a Lamp of Lothian concert featuring the O Duo. The duo comprises former Knox lad, Oliver Cox and musical partner, Owen Gunnell, on percussion – yes, it’s a percussion duo.

The presentation and the patter of duo was very inviting and the playing both entertaining and virtuosic. With the boys’ blessing, I recorded the concert as an aide memoir to writing a review which the Lamp of Lothian will submit to The East Lothian Courier.

It then occurred to me that posting a couple of samples here might benefit:

  • The O Duo – encouraging people to check out the concert dates & CD on their website
  • The Lamp of Lothian – an example of one of the many concerts they put on throughout the year – entry to which is free for pupils
  • Knox Academy – perhaps an under-rated and over-looked venue – these mp3 samples were recorded on a Zoom H2 at the back of the hall

Hopefully these short samples will prove that there’s more to a percussion duo than hitting things with sticks.

Bongo Fury (composed by O Duo); Bongo Fury Alborada del Gracioso (Ravel); Alborada Courante Courante & Gigue Gigue from French Suite No. 5 in G BWV 816 (Bach); Etude in C# minor, Op. 10 No. 4; Chopin Sonata No. 90 (Soler); Soler Flight of the Bumblebee; (Rimsky-Korsakov); Flight of BB


A combination of Activities WeekStudy Leave and several trips allowed me time to get wired in about reports for one of two primary schools. The format of these is more like free prose than your online Filemaker/Freemis set-up. As they were to be emailed to the school for proof-reading (by the fastest proof-reader I’ve ever met) I merged 22 of them into one attached document. This allowed me to have an idea of the total word count. Allowing for headings, sub-headings etc. it weighed in at 5,040.

When I was a student, that would have been considered a dissertation and would have been the work of a term – or longer. Writing, merging, formatting and emailing was more a matter of hours. It’s funny how technology, combined with the simple fact of getting older can raise your game.

What’s also interesting is how problematic situations can help to hone your prose style. Praise can be quick and compact. It seems to me that highlighting a problem requires you to describe: problem; consequence; solution – in less than three times the space.

Stravinsky put it much better. (you may need to opt for full screen if you are using a feed reader)

Handout for parents

In December’s eduBuzz Open Meeting I mentioned that I intended to prepare a handout, to be issued at forthcoming Instrumental Parents’ Evenings. Rather than spend 6 of the alloted 5 minutes describing what I do instead of what the pupil under discussion does, a written summary of the intended benefits seemed like a good idea. I passed around copies at today’s meeting and it was suggested that I post a copy online – for one thing, it’ll be more easily found than paper copies.

 You can view it here: Blogging – what’s in it for pupils, parents & me


 The technical saga seems finally to be at an end. Looking back at the dates of previous posts, the last one I can clearly remember sending from home was 20th May. In that time, I have tried to prepare text on the laptop and post from school – although connection speed occasionally frustrated this. More importantly, this period severely curtailed my reading of others’ blogs and the necessary speed reading at playtime and lunchtime didn’t really do justice to their contributions.

It’s good to be back.


Last session I wrote a fairly substantial piece on reporting. This was principally concerned with primary reports as the Filemaker format for secondary reporting is more concerned with pull down menus and short comments than the Proustian free prose of primary reports (the shortest of this session’s weigh in around 190 words and the longest at 290).

The thrust of last session’s post was about opening up the report from the preceding session and overwriting it. This allows me to resurrect points made then and to report, for example, whether the recommendations for improvement have been followed and the desired improvements made.

However, I did not mention one other factor which has only come to my attention through the luxury of completing this session’s reports well before the deadline and that is to do with checking. By that, I don’t mean spelling, grammar etc. but simply whether every element of the report is really true. For this to take place, at least one lesson has to take place between writing the report and submitting it. Positive characteristics may appear in the lesson which are not in the report. Exasperating tendencies may appear to take up more time due to prose lacking streamlining than really is the case in lessons. I can’t help feeling that the real truth of any element is affected by the proportion of the report devoted to it compared to all the possible things that could have been said.

Connected Media

“Eventually Everything Connects”    Charles Eames (1907-78)

Since becoming convinced by Robert Jones’ post to subscribe to a feed-reader (Google Reader, in this particular case) I’m pleased to have come across many articles, blogs, sites etc. that I might otherwise have missed. Here are a few of the interesting ones, some of which may be of interest to others:

Music related  –  Music & Personality which includes a link to a description of The Five Big Personality Traits  –  Seven Ways Music Influneces Mood  –  Discover The Perfect Musical Performance

One for the “reporting season” – Writing Down Affectionate Thoughts Reduces Cholestorol

One for Guidance? Spotting Lies or test yourself at this skill here

Language – White Brain Matter & Fast Language Learners

Study Skills? Gesture, Meaning & Memory

Social Ed? A Quirky Look At Our Quirky Species

Transition? Cognitive Ability Mostly Developed Before Adolesence

All of us? Attention Span  –  Feeling valued in the workplace  –  Decision Making

And if it all gets too much – Putting Things In Perspective, whose links include one to featuring a fantastic film called Powers of Ten by Charles Eames depicting the size of the universe from the macroscopic to the microscopic.