Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Easter Music

Posted on: 02/04/2013

I promised you more about my musical shenanigans… and it’s been a very interesting couple of months on that front.  In a good way!  (It’s rare for me to not enjoy anything involving music.  Unless it’s rap or hip-hop, of course. Oh, and terrible 90s club music. Ugh.)

The bad news is, our choir’s professional conductor fell ill and had to take time off for a couple of months.  The good news is, he’s now fine. And in the meantime the choir kindly let me have a go at the helm.  So I spent Friday afternoons waving at the piano to the music, Friday evenings waving at the choir singing the music, and finally last week waving at the choir performing the music in concert.

Steep learning curve doesn’t even begin to describe it. I had to re-learn how to conduct properly rather than just keep a beat ticking (even that was back in my student days), and I had to really know the music.  As someone who’s been lucky enough for sight-reading to come naturally, that was a surprise.

But it was so worth it.  I enjoyed the experience immensely.  If I’m not mistaken and people did honestly appreciate and enjoy the concert, I was OK at it too.

And, even though I could never keep that kind of thing up while the kids are still young, it did ignite a spark of ambition to take this more seriously some time in the not-too-distant future.

I feel a summer school coming on one day …


Well, hello again. I do hope you are all keeping well.

I have to confess, last year was something of a washout for me. Mild depression and major fatigue were significant elements, but I worked through it, felt just fine on plenty of occasions throughout the year, got some proper sleep after Christmas and the world righted itself. Being an optimistic person, these things often do work out fine in the end. Once you have worked out how to crank the handle and put your life back into gear.

Anyhow, I’ve been itching to blog again for a few weeks now. I thought you might like to know where things are at chez Braindribbles.

Oldest one is 9. He’s just at the point where putting everything into mock inverted commas is a major part of his humour. Thinner than a beanpole and hungrier than a mammoth, I am starting to question the laws of physics. Or biology. Either way, it’s a mystery.

The photo below is from our trip to Snowdonia last spring, at a moment when he turned around to find the Easter Bunny right there and offering him a small Easter gift. He was rooted to the spot with embarrassment for a full minute. It was hilarious. For me, anyway…


Middle child is 7. She is loving finally being at the same school as her brother. It has solved so many issues for us. She’s also been industrious artistically – her recent paintings have merged her two favourite things: Hello Kitty and Star Wars. I hope you enjoy her work as much as I do.


Smallest one is 2. She’s completely out of nappies, thanks to the most sensible potty training book I have read so far. Her favourite song right now is ‘Three little monkeys’, often sung whilst jumping on my bed, while I’m still in it. Here she is, kidnapping my teaching dolls. Again. (Photo credit to middle child, by the way)


All of them are providing me with many many delightful cuddles through the day.

Loved one is being lovely as usual. He works so hard that he doesn’t feature much in the blog. Maybe that will change one day. He has something exciting in the pipeline and I may one day be allowed to tell you more about it…

As for me, well, I did qualify and I have a shiny diploma certificate to prove it. Somewhere. Buried in the piles of clutter I am still trying to work my way around. I’m loving my work, still getting used to the extra dynamic it brings but feeling more settled about it after 9 months of regular teaching.

I’m much more involved in my music too…more on that another day, but it’s all good.

As for the house move and settling in, well, we have the loveliest bunch of neighbours you ever met (they don’t read this blog so I’m not just saying that to humour them!), and have been so, so helpful in a challenging year and also become good friends. We intend to let the builders loose on our home in the next month or two, so we hope they will stay good friends in spite of the disruption!

And my general wellbeing has been restored by, would you believe, hypnotherapy…? Yup. I went on a Natal Hypnotherapy study day back in May as part of my ongoing training, and realised the possibilities for both my work and personal life. Of course, I didn’t take any steps to sort this out till Christmastime, but when I did, and did it properly, wow, what a difference. I’ve been using the CDs from Trance Solutions, an Aussie clinic that had the thought to make their work available on iTunes (a heap better than some of the other choices up there) and now I drift to sleep to a soothing antipodean voice and soft unintrusive music. And, after a couple of weeks, I started to feel like a completely new person.

Things are just as busy. I am just as forgetful. Things are just as messy. But they are slowly improving and, most importantly of all, I am feeling the way I ought to feel once more. Life is good.

Next post? Well, don’t hold your breath. But no doubt the itchy fingers will be back to give you a glimpse into my brain dribbles again soon 🙂

Remember my last post? Anticipating a no-show on my first singalong day?

Well it turned out just fine in the end.  Totally not what I expected – it was supposed to be all about grown-ups doing grown-up music and playing grown-up instruments and singing grown-up songs.

What did we do instead? Kids songs.

Well, there were more children there than there were adults.  And they didn’t want to join in if they couldn’t have some kiddie songs they liked.  And we would have had virtually nobody if they hadn’t joined in.  So kids songs it was.

Thankfully, I have some excellent Sandra Boynton music that everyone enjoyed.  Top of the hit list was ‘I want to be your personal penguin’, and everyone strummed and sang and bashed and rattled.  Great stuff.

Next time, however, I am hoping for more grown-up stuff. The kids are keen to play board games in the next room, and they can do that if they aren’t pretty much the only ones there.  They are particularly keen to play with other kids that turn up.  And I am particularly keen that they give us grown-ups some space to enjoy ourselves.  On our terms.

So, though I have no regrets, next time I am looking forward to singing some grown-up songs. With grown-ups.

Can’t wait.

Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.netToday, singing group time has been adapted to having a sing-along instead, as detailed in my previous ramblings…  At the time of writing, I don’t yet know if anyone at all will show up to sing.  Most people have prior engagements (which is why I changed the format in the first place).

I have to as myself: if nobody turns up, what do I do then?  Do I have a sing-song with the family? Or do I not bother?  Do I continue to keep trying to do this once a month, or do I accept defeat?

It’s particularly tricky since I anticipate moving soon…I don’t even know if the estate agent will phone in the morning and book in three viewings…at which point we might be singing in the playground round the corner all afternoon.

I don’t mind admitting that if nobody turns up I’ll be disappointed.  I love to sing, but more importantly I love to sing with friends.

worradmu / FreeDigitalPhotos.netPerhaps it just needs to gain momentum.  What I might do is settle for family only this time (and possibly reluctant family at that, ha!), and just reserve the day, once a month, dedicated to music in whatever form it comes.  If people turn up I’ll be delighted, and it will be better than I expected. If they don’t I’ll at least have had a day of singing just for the joy of it.

Guess I’ll have to wait and see what the day brings…

Here’s another of my discoveries.  It’s a full-length version of Toto’s ‘Africa’, done completely acappella by a large Slovenian choir.

Putting it like that, you might be inclined not to watch it.  But do.  I really can’t believe such a large choir can be this good at acappella.  Also the start’s a bit of a treat too…

As you may have gathered from many of my previous posts, I am nuts about singing.  I especially enjoy acappella, but I’ll sing anything just so I can get my singing fix.  The kids are at that age where me spontaneously bursting into song is just a little embarrassing; I can’t possibly imagine why.

There are loads of opportunities to sing out there, but I haven’t found a single one that doesn’t require a childcare solution; that’s why I decided to set up a once-a-month Saturday singing group.  People come for the day, the children run around playing with each other, it’s all very informal but a lot of fun.

Trying to get a bunch of other parents – and non parents for that matter – together on a sacred Saturday, is tricky to say the least.  Let’s face it; most people have plans for most of their Saturdays. We have so far managed just the one Saturday, and since then either I have been busy, or everyone else has.  (And you do tend to need a certain number of people if you want to sing acappella.)

I am struggling with this issue.  I can’t see a way through.  Sundays are also sacred in a similar way to Saturdays – you might even say more so – and weekday evenings require childcare.  I can’t plan long-term until after we have successfully moved house, and until that happens we are at the mercy of short-notice viewings anyway.


I think I am going to have to revise my ambitions a little.  What I’m going to do is keep holding one Saturday a month for singing, but not worry about the numbers – I’ll make it an open house instead.  Whoever we get, however many we get, we’ll just sing along either to my guitar (or piano once we eventually move) or one of many backing tracks I have, jointly, individually, whatever people feel comfortable with.  And on those occasions where we do get enough people to come along, then we can have another go at the acappella stuff.

That sounds to me like it has considerably more chance of success.   I get to spend time with friends and sing at the same time.  A vast improvement from having to cancel all the time.

Yeah.  That should do it.  I feel better already.

I’m feeling more and more of an urge to arrange a funky song into an acappella number.  I have many possibilities to choose from, but I’m never going to get the time to do more than one, or at a push, two, before moving house.  So I have a dilemma: what shall I arrange?

domdeen /

Firstly, much as I love Glee, I’m not inclined to copy anything they’re doing.  It would be too samey.  But I can think of many, many songs that are crying out to be sung by an acappella group.

I have such a vast selection of favourites, I clearly need help choosing… So give me a hand and let me know what you think I should do.
I eagerly anticipate your responses…