Saturday, February 2, 2008

It's been a busy week...

In an effort to continue to keep you posted even though I am not posting as much- here is what I did this week:

Monday- Caught up on various emails, took a long walk and discoved a totally cute little park with (for some reason) inverted slides. In the evening I went down to the electronic music lab to play around with Logic Pro for my electronic music class. I meant to stay down there for one hour and instead left after two because the school was closing- it was super fun.

Tuesday- Met up with Nick in the morning to go over our plan for Bonner Primary School on Wednesday. Sig gave us very specific requests for things to prepare so we talked about who was handeling what, where we would stand for various portions, what order we would do activities in, what we would say...everything basically. And we wrote a two bar break for the song to teach the kids. In the afternoon we had another session at Morpeth Secondary School.

All of the Leadership students are involved at Morpeth. At Morpeth I work most with a young electric bass player named Yves. He's cute, and really quite good with the bass. He catches on quickly and humors me by swaying along with me while we're playing. It took me forever to figure out what his name actually was because I heard "Eve" and I was fairly sure that "Eve" was indesputibly a girl's name. What with Eden and all. On tuesday I finally just asked him how his name was spelled.

Wednesday- Bonner! Nick and I were supposed to meet at 9:15 in order to actually get to Bonner a bit early as opposed to just barely on time which is usually when we get there. I went down and knocked on his door all ready to go with the bass on my back. Nick answered the door in pajamas asking me what time it was. Fortunately we were just meant to be leading the half of the workshop involving the instrumentalists, so Sig switched around the two groups and had the singer group go first. Nick walked in the door just as the class was starting.

This turned out to be a good thing because it meant that the two of us had a chance to talk through our plan with Sig before our half of the workshop. I led the warm up which then led into teaching the composite rhythm for the percussionists to everyone vocally. Once we had done that Nick took the wind players (trombones, flutes, trumpets, and clarinets) to another room to teach them the notes for the melody and I had the various percussionists set up in the front of the room. We rehearesed for a while and then the winds came back in and we tried to get everyone to play together. That didn't end up working very well...and teaching a body rhythm for the break. Then all of our time was over.

I then took the tube and the DLR down to Bygrove Primary school for the East meets West project. That one was downright relaxing after the morning. We recorded the various soundscapes and choruses that the kids have been working on in order to send the recording over to the Holy Family primary school for the dancers to work with. We also played a bunch of games that weren't really related to music, but were very entertaining. One of them, a form of tag called Cat and Mouse, involved pairs linking arms which got a bit ridiculous when the adults (of whom I am the shortest, it is a very tall group) ended up paired up with the 6 year old children. No one threw up.

At six I had my second electronic music class, this time we worked on using a sampler tool which we will eventually use to create our own electronic instruments. I would explain more what that means, but I don't really understand yet either. So sorry I can't help you with that.

At seven we had a rehearsal for the "Earth" portion of the Globetown project. Have I explained this yet? We are re-writing The Planets, so each school has their own planet(s), the Leadership students are Earth, and everyone is Asteroids and the Sun. (Bonner's planets are Venus and Mars.)

Our basic plan for Earth is to move from a pastoral, primoridal sounding section with acoustic instruments to an electric section involving samples from speeches and the electric bass, electric guitar, and maybe Kate with her electrified Oboe. The problems were that a: we were all very tired, b: Emma hadn't had a chance to deal with the speech samples yet, and c: we had no amps. The primordial/nature bit is already written and figured out, so pretty much we spent two hours talking about what we thought the electric part should sound like but having no way of actually testing anything out. It was an incredibly aggravating process. Emma used the time to work on the samples which was agood use of time, but the rest of us had a difficult rehearsal. We decided that we really don't have enough time to write this democratically and to have individuals lead the rest of the process.

Then I tumbled into bed and slept and slept and slept.

Thursday- Our assignment for Creative Ensemble was to prepare material for a half hour long workshop with the Leadership students. When looking for clips for Emma to use in the Earth piece I had found a site that had mp3 files of various famous/important American speeches. I became particularly enamored with MLK's "On the Mountain" speech. I spent the morning transcribing a 40 second portion of the speech. By transcribing I mean that I wrote down what all the words were and then set up my computer next to my bass and figured out what pitch he was saying each syllable at. It turns out that he spends a lot of time in the g, g#, a, b range.

That afternoon we had another Morpeth rehearsal, it was fine. The music is coming together well and we had one kid on the clarinet who had only had one lesson so far. We were all impressed with him for giving it a go.

In Creative ensemble Kate led a workshop with a counter melody for Earth. She had such a clear idea for what the rest piece could sound like that I think she is going to lead the rest of the process just so we can finish the piece in time. She ended up taking over most of the Creative Ensemble time which was fine because we really needed to work on Earth and frankly- my ideas for the MLK thing are still a bit half baked. I'm looking forward to having more time to really figure out what to do with it. I'm also quite pleased that I got as much transcribed as I did- it's a very good start.

Friday- I was so glad it was Friday. It's been a long week. In the morning I was interviewed for a BBC documentary about social networking sites- specifically Facebook. We talked for about 10 minutes and I talked about how without facebook Sarah wouldn't have known that I was in London and so wouldn't have invited me to her wedding, and then I wouldn't have gone to India! So for that reason alone I am thankful for Facebook. Meredith was interviewed right after me and couldn't stop giggling- it was pretty funny. I have no idea what the documentary is really about nor when it will air. There was a mass email sent to our Guildhall email addresses asking for volunteers.

That afternoon Nick and I had our second session of leading Bonner's instruementalists by ourselves and it went remarkably well. We showed up a good 40 minutes early (probably overkil, but we weren't late! Result!) and led a remarkably cohesive workshop on the break portion of the song. We had talked a lot about how to teach the break and how to focus the students' attention on the one who was leading at that moment and just generally supporting eachother in our various roles. It went really well.

In the evening Meredith and Dave and I went to Sarah's house for a "Yay, Dave doesn't have the flu anymore!" sushi party. The party involved quite a lot of homemade vegetable sushi, chocolate cake, and fancy chips/crisps. It was a nice ending to a long week.

Saturday- Not that the week was *really* over. Today Jo and I went to Whitechapel for a African Dance class. It was totaly fun and I now have blisters all over the bottoms of my feet. The same teacher has a free class tomorrow that Jo is trying to get people to go to. I told Latana about it and she was excited, so I may be going to another African dance lesson tomorrow. We'll see if I can move or not...

Also, Today in rugby news- Wales beat England for the first time since 1988. One of the girls in the TV room was very, very excited. "We haven't won since the year I was born!"

The spell check is not working, so I apologize for any egregious spelling errors...

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