Happy New Year 2014

Hope you have all had a great Christmas and New Year.

Many of you have started back lessons already, but if you have not had chance yet, please drop me us an email or call the office and we will be happy to arrange this.

Our aim at Most Entertaining is to offer tailored music learning. We encourage all students to make the most of the instrumental variety we offer. Perhaps you fancy a few singing lessons or need help with Grade 5 Theory, for example.

Simply contact our office by phone or email for a chat.

For-the-new-year
 

New Year, New Term

The dawn of a new year brings in fresh promises and attempts to renew vows of previous years, often with trips to bright flashy gyms that in turn assure they’ll make you a new person, or, instead you’ll decide to banish certain foods from daily diets – both pledges that have been driven by guilt in the annual over indulgence of Christmas.

If this sounds like you, how about riding a new wave and take a new direction that doesn’t involve unrealistic food and fitness measures?   Last term Most Entertaining launched a new ensemble ‘modestly’ called Most Entertaining’s All Stars.  The idea of the group is to provide an opportunity for amateur musicians, who play all instrument types, to meet weekly and exercise their musicianship, led by professional coach Robert Briggs.  Briggs puts the group through its paces with songwriting, improvisation, arranging and practical musicianship.  Music tackled is as diverse as Muse to Metallica.  The group continues this term and seeks new members eager to strike a chord or belt a tune with others. Full details to find out more and to book are posted below.  Here is what one member said of last term’s sessions.
‘…You’ve (RB) taken us from a vagabond bunch of directionless strangers into a band and we have loved every week and really appreciate what you have done for us.’

At the end of last term Most Entertaining also launched an Instrumental Bursary – the aim of which is to support young people who wish to learn an instrument, but don’t have the funds to do so.  We would like to thank all the local businesses who helped kick start our fund by donating very generous prizes for our raffle – drawn at our Christmas Concert in Stockbridge.   We will continue to update everyone on the development and plans for the instrumental bursary.

All our students who took ABRSM and Trinity Guildhall grades last term passed – a number with good merits and distinctions. Congratulations to both students and teachers for all their hard work.  Best of luck to everyone who is set to do similar exams in Spring.

Most Entertaining would like to welcome all its new students who have either recently begun lessons or are about to and look forward to meeting them at our future concerts.

In the meantime, Happy New Year on behalf of everyone at Most Entertaining – have a great term!

Most Entertaining All Star Ensemble sign up contact: Robert Briggs – thecyclingmusician@gmail.com or call the office on 0131 477 7821 to book a place or find out more information. 

 

 

 

ME Christmas Concert 2012 copy
 

NEW Instrumental Bursary

Most Entertaining will host their Christmas Show this Sunday 16th December, with events beginning at the Stockbridge Market.  Carols will be heard from 3.30pm around the market’s Christmas tree, accompanied by Most Entertaining’s brass group.
As part of our Christmas show, Most Entertaining has joined forces with the amazing Edinburgh Military Wives Choir, who will be performing at the market as well as at the concert. The concert itself starts at 4pm sharp in Saint Stevens Centre, Stockbridge. The choir are fast becoming very sought after in Edinburgh and are also performing at the castle during the festive period. This is a fabulous opportunity to see the choir live this Christmas.  During the show their will be a raffle with amazing prizes, donating by generous local businesses, to help raise money for our Instrumental Bursary.

Most Entertaining’s NEW Instrumental Bursary will use the money raised from the raffle to kick start the fundraising to buy instruments new and 2nd hand for disadvantaged children wishing to learn to play music.  Our fundraising will continue throughout the year at future concerts.  In addition to this, we will set up an accessible online donation link to our website for those who wish to make a pledge this way.  All donations welcome!

One of the other aims of Most Entertaining is to provide musicians with opportunities to perform in small groups and learn other skills such as improvisation. This term, a new exciting band has formed and this concert marks its first professional performance. The group have learnt about many aspects of music, in particular arranging and composition and have then put these ideas into practice when learning new material. The repertoire is varied, ranging from Herbie Hancock all the way through to Coldplay. Original music will also be heard – listen out for the partially hidden Christmas musical quotes.

As ever, a vast array of solo students will be heard at this event across a wide range of instruments. These performances will be themed, so watch out for props and fancy dress! These items promise to be fun, entertaining and possibly a little but eccentric! Students have been practising very hard for this event to ensure a high standard is reached, and are looking forward to performing.

This show promises to be a unique Christmas event with a diverse programme with something for everyone to enjoy.

Details for the concert are:
Date: 16th December 2012
Time: 3.30pm at Stockbridge Market leading to St. Stephen’s Church for the concert (4pm)
Venue: Stockbridge Market – St. Stevens Church
Cost: £10 which includes a complimentary glass of mulled wine
Refreshments will also be available including mince pies

Military Wives Choir
 

Taking Stock of Festivals

The Edinburgh Festival is now over for another year and no doubt locals are glad to have regained their city back.  However, in terms of festivals, Edinburgh doesn’t like to rest for long.  This coming week, Stockbridge will host their own small festival – ‘StockFest’, which will showcase many artists, businesses and organisations, from across Edinburgh.

Most Entertaining are looking forward to StockFest, as we are staging our first Autumn student concert.  This is an opportunity for our students of all ages, learning a variety of instruments, to demonstrate their talents amongst friends, family and hopefully inspire other people to pick up and learn an instrument.

To precede our afternoon concert, we would like to encourage people of all ages, with or without any musical background, to join in our ‘Come and Play’ session from 2-3pm.  This hour aims to be fun and allows those interested in learning an instrument to give it a try with one of our professional musicians. We will have instruments from the brass, string, woodwind and percussion family, and also include a selection of band instruments.

To conclude our concert, we are excited to have The Edinburgh Garrison Military Wives Choir sing their debut.  There will a raffle with fantastic prizes to raise money for the choir and their great cause.

Please let your friends and family know about StockFest and our Concert.

Venue: St Stephen’s Centre, St. Stephen Street, Edinburgh EH3 5AB

Date and Time(s): Sunday 16th September, 2-3pm (Come and Play) and 3pm – 4.15pm (Concert)

Cost: £10 adults, £6 concessions (FREE to all performers)

Please buy tickets at the door : ) Keep up to date at: - http://www.facebook.com/mostentertaining

Guitars-and-Stuff
 

New Most Entertaining Ensemble

Playing and performing on your instrument in groups is such an important way of progressing in music. All musicians know the benefit of ensemble work and I certainly try to encourage all of my pupils to try and perform with others. This ranges from simple piano duets in lessons, to encouraging brass students to join local bands or groups. You can learn so many new skills, both musical and social from working with others, and most importantly have a lot of fun doing so!
I have spent a long time over the summer thinking about how Most Entertaining can help encourage group work and decided to approach Will Pickvance, one of Most Entertaining’s company directors, about creating a flagship ensemble for Most Entertaining. Fortunately, he liked the idea -  a lot! So, here is the plan for the new ensemble, initially named as the ‘Most Entertaining Allstars’ – which is due to start in the middle of September 2012.
I plan to create a band which will initially cover and perform popular pop/rock/jazz classics from the 1960′s through to the present day. For example, songs could range from The Kinks, right through to Keane, Muse and possibly even Jessie J! I want everyone involved to have an input on how the arrangements of these songs will be formed, so composition and theory skills will also be developed. The sound I am aiming for will be fairly relaxed, easy to listen to. There will be plenty of opportunities for players to improvise and develop their knowledge of chord reading as well. Sheet music will also be used, so no need to panic if you have never read chords!
The band will have high standards, and its aim is to perform and entertain publicly, and earn a positive reputation in and around Edinburgh. However, my main goal is to provide an opportunity for musicians involved with Most Entertaining to develop and improve in a fun inspiring environment. After all, the company is called Most Entertaining!
I require and would like to encourage players of all styles and in the following instruments to apply;
Piano/Keyboards
Vocals
Trumpets/Cornets
Trombone
Saxophone
Guitars
Bass Guitar
Drum Kit
To find out more about this fantastic opportunity, please email or phone Most Entertaining’s  Director of Tuition,  Finlay Hetherington on 0131 477 7821 – finlay@mostentertaining.com
Dimebag Darrell #2
 

Playing Like Pantera Part II

Here are some key points to keep in mind when playing in the style of Pantera.

•    Guitar tunings. They generally vary from song to song, from Eb (all strings half step down) to as low as C# (all strings a step and a half down), including variations in between including drop D tunings. One interesting phenomena is that the band often tuned in between standard tone values. If you’re experiencing difficulties playing along with a Pantera record this could be the reason why. The way to deal with it in the digital age is to open the song with an audio file editor (Audacity is an excellent free one) and “detune” the song a few cents at a time until it’s down (or up) completely to the closest standard tuning.

•    Gear. Dimebag’s rig included his signature Dean Guitar models equipped with Seymour Duncan pickups and a locking Floyd Rose tremolo running through Randall amplification. There are different types of guitar effects and amplification you can use to get a similar sound, but the Floyd Rose is the only mandatory piece of equipment. If you’re playing Pantera your guitar will have to endure some abuse and needs to stay in tune.

•    Intervals. His signature style featured a heavy use of the tritone (flat five) interval. Also called the devil’s interval. In the middle ages it was generally avoided by musicians due to its “oppressive, evil and scary” sound. A good example of incorporating the tritone interval is the lick right before the first verse of “5 Minutes Alone” from “Far Beyond Driven”.

•    Dimebag also made popular the “power diads” (major third and minor third intervals) played as power chords. An example being the chorus of “This Love” from “Vulgar Display Of Power”.

•    Artificial harmonics. Dimebag Darrel was a master of making the guitar squeal, in his own words “harmonics and whammy bars go together if you ask me”. It’s a signature trick used to define his own sound. You can check out what he means in the last chorus of “Cemetery Gates” where his guitar “answers” to Phil Anselmo’s vocal lines with mind shattering pinch harmonic squeals.

•    “Reefer Madness” is the authority guitar method in the style of Pantera since it’s compiled from Dimebag’s own columns published in different guitar magazines during the years, along with interviews and inside info on his playing style, effects rig and musical background.

The band’s history is marked by dissension and controversy and, ironically, fell victim to the same alienation that brought together thousands of people in Pantera’s following. The end of Pantera allegedly was related to an increasingly more distant Phil Anselmo spending more and more time on side projects until Pantera was effectively “put on hold”. It was two years that the band was in an unofficial hiatus, the Abbot brothers claiming they’ve tried to get in touch with Anselmo on a regular basis, but he did not return their phone calls. It was for the first time in their lives that they were not playing music and it was taking a heavy toll on them. They could not wait any longer and had to move on, starting Damageplan with Patrick Lachman as a lead singer. That effectively led to the disbandment of Pantera and adversely in its aftermath to the gruesome actions of one severely disturbed Pantera fan.

Pantera was more than a metal band, it was a machine. It was the product of a group of people who played music for a living every day for as long as they could remember. Incidentally, one of them died while playing the instrument he loved so much. And while the tragedy of his loss is immense, there is some comfort in the thought that Darrel Abbot is alive in our hearts and minds and his playing will live forever on all of your favourite Pantera records.

Svilen demonstrating playing in the style of Pantera.

Please check out the link above of blog contributor Svilen Mikov’s own you tube recording of playing in the style of Pantera.  Enjoy : )

Dimebag Darrell
 

Playing like Pantera – Part I

Pantera. The band whose signature style, hard sound and legacy embodied the feeling of alienation an entire generation grew up with – The Pantera generation. No other band has captured and distilled more purely the aggression, nihilism, hopelessness and decadence of the underground of the 80s & the 90s.

Arguably the most influential metal band of all times – Pantera literally took the genre of heavy metal to a new level. They stood tall during the decline of most 80’s glam rock acts and also during the Seattle driven grunge revolution without the slightest concern about mainstream trends, music business developments, and audience expectations with their trademark riffs, rough sound, phenomenal vocal lines, shattering drums and most importantly mind-blowing guitar work. Darrell Lance Abbott, the guitar player who will forever remain in the rock and roll hall of fame as Dimebag Darrel was a true pioneer of the electric guitar whose remarkable life and tragic death will be remembered forever. He was such an influential guitar player that Eddie Van Halen put his signature black and yellow-striped Charvel electric guitar, (the same one he recorded the Van Halen II album with) in his coffin as a tribute to the man. Fate it seems is not without a sense of irony – fortune may favour the bold and talented, but she also can claim them ahead of time.

Undoubtedly it takes more than years of practice, perseverance, the right musical background and hanging with ‘the right people’ to become a guitarist of the calibre of Dimebag. His talent is unquestionable and manifests clearly in the raw energy of Hollow, Floods or the sonic power of Clash with Reality and Primal Concrete Sledge. However, with the right attitude and some effort every guitar player can master some of the techniques that shot Darrell in the ranks of the greatest guitarists the world has ever known. While there will be no one else who can sound like him, there are a lot of great Dimebag tricks that you can incorporate in your own playing. One thing that may help you prepare mentally if you want to play in the style of Pantera is that it’s OK to be intimidated. Dimebag is in a class of his own musically and technically speaking. Keep in mind that at the tender age of 17 he was already banned from all guitar competitions in the state of Texas, since he had won them all at least once.

Guitar virtuoso Svilen Mikov will provide part II to his blog on playing in the style of Pantera later this week and include a video of him playing in this unique style.

brass summer school logo pic
 

Blow Your Own Trumpet!

Excitement is building this summer in anticipation of the inaugural Scottish brass summer school, which begins on the 16th July. The workshops run for 5 days, culminating in a free informal concert. The highlight will be a student composed Olympic Fanfare, taking in musical ideas from the continents of the world. I have no doubt that this will be an exciting unique piece to listen to.

Rehearsals are for two hours daily (11-1pm) and aim to be fun, creative and inspiring. Every level will be catered for. There will be a mix of technique, composition and solo performance sessions.  Composition sessions will feature film music with students’ learning how to compose for silent film. Composing in groups, incorporating a moving image is great fun and will include opportunities to develop improvisation skills.

The summer school is been held at Tynecastle High School, McLeod Street, Edinburgh – open to students of school age who learn any time of brass instrument.  It will be a great week of music making. Students who take part will not only better brass players, but will also be more rounded musicians.

Please call 0131 477 7821 to either book or find out more information OR email info@mostentertaining.com  Please check out and ‘like’ the facebook page too! We can send a application form on request. http://www.facebook.com/SummerBrassSchool

Randy Brecker in Action
 

A Record Brecker …

There is nothing like being put on the spot and having to literally improvise an interview with someone, who is not only one of the world’s leading exponents of the trumpet, but also of jazz. He can improvise around the most complex of bebop charts, as if it were as easy as taking a breath.

On 25th May 2012, (not the 24th, as I suggested) the world class jazz musician and trumpeter, Randy Brecker, was in Edinburgh to perform with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra.  This was the 2nd of a series of 4 concerts the big band and Randy were doing throughout Scotland, as part of a tribute to Randy’s brother – the influential saxophonist and composer, Michael Brecker. During the afternoon of this Friday, Randy delivered an inspiring workshop, talking and demonstrating wonderfully on the trumpet, about his musical journey.

Post workshop, I had the good fortune of meeting Randy to say a few words, thanks to SNJO’s orchestral manager, Lindsay Robertson.  At this moment, I cheekily asked Randy if he would be interested in writing a blog for my music tuition site, Most Entertaining.  This didn’t materialise as imagined. Instead, he ushered me to follow him, not realising where I was headed. I discovered myself sitting on a leather sofa in his dressing room, chatting to him while he sat at his dressing table trying to wind down from his workshop, before he was to set off again to do his sound check. I decided there and then, that even if he were open to contributing a blog, to retrieve it from a man, who is constantly on the move and has a hectic tight schedule, was going to be virtually near impossible. So, seeing that I had got off to a good start, by the fact he allowed me to join him in his rare few minutes of quiet, I decided to do a short interview with him.  Miraculously, for the workshop, I had brought along my Zoom recorder. I got it out and plugged it in, whilst scrambling together in my mind some questions to put to Randy, who, by this point, must have wondered, ‘who an earth, is this guy?’

At the start of proceedings, I have a little laugh as I begin the first introduction, realising for the first time the unexpected situation I found myself in.  Despite my ‘improvised’ questions, Randy exudes a natural integrity and humility, expressing on a number of occasions, well deserved praise for the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and its place on the world stage. Click on the link below to listen to my 5 minute interview with Randy Brecker.

Randy Brecker Interview

Finlay Hetherington; is a freelance trumpet player and educator, who is also director of tuition for Most Entertaining Ltd.

Guitar frustration
 

Strumming the right notes!

Guitar Workshops with Most Entertaining …

I’ve always had an interest in music but only recently returned to the idea of playing and instrument. I learned cello during primary school and part of secondary school but gave it up as I lacked enthusiasm and interest in classical music. That was some six years ago. As I’ve matured, my love of music across the spectrum has grown; filling my music library with artists such as The Wailing Wailers, Neil Young, Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson, Miles Davis and most recently Lynrd Skynrd. I’ve wanted to find out about all kinds of music and it seemed that one of the ways of increasing my understanding and appreciation would be to learn guitar.

Learning the guitar, for me, was a very spontaneous decision. I borrowed a guitar after seeing the magnificent Blues/Folk guitarist, Chris Smithersat the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh. I was so impressed by his effortless finger picking style. I wondered if watching a few beginner guitar videos on Youtube would be a good place to start teaching myself.  It was tempting because it was free!! Struggling to bend my fingers into seemingly impossible positions, I persevered for about a week…

Strum…strum…strum… change chord. Argh! It all seemed so hard. I decided I needed more than virtual help. I then heard about Most Entertaining guitar workshops. I have to admit, what first caught my attention was having access to a tutor without having to pay £30 an hour for a one-to-one lesson. So, one week after picking up the guitar, I turned up at the first session to find a very friendly group of people at a variety of skill levels. The class is led by Chris Day, who immediately put me at ease.

The first week we learned the chords for ‘I Feel Fine’ (The Beatles) followed by a finger relaxing Metallica riff that gave the two hour session a good mix. I spent the next week practicing the two pieces of material, attempting to speed up chord changes and improving pitch. I’m happy to say that I found it really fun to practice, fitting it in when I had a few free minutes or when bored, slowly but steadily learning chords and songs.

In the weeks since, I have learned several new songs, including my suggestion, ‘Ziggy Stardust’ (David Bowie). The group has been a great propellant for me as an aspiring novice. I look forward to completing the course, buying my first guitar and signing up for next term.

Art Farmer, 18 years old – will be performing with the rest of the guitar group and vocal group at their gig (FREE to the public) on 12th June, Circus – St Mary’s Street, Edinburgh from 7pm.