Part 1 A New Year Resolution
It all started with a birthday present. I’d been talking for years about learning to play a musical instrument, having been a singer since I was at school. What I really wanted to do was play a proper musical instrument in an orchestra. With other people playing other proper musical instruments. And then, on my 52nd birthday, I was given a trumpet tied up with a red ribbon.
That was two years ago and, since then, I’ve often admired my trumpet, occasionally polished it and even once or twice tried playing it. Then, in January 2012, I made a New Year Resolution. I was going to find a trumpet teacher and learn to play the thing. I came across Finlay who seemed very positive about teaching me. Clearly, a man up for a challenge.
At my first lesson in February, the word ‘potential’ was used. I was thrilled. Of course, it was me that used the word and not Finlay but never mind. At my second lesson in March, I managed the first five notes of a C major scale. Great excitement. Then Finlay suggested, at my third lesson, that I should play a piece in a group concert planned for the end of April.
Depression is setting in. I work full time as an educational adviser. I speak at national conferences in front of hundreds of people. But playing the right notes on a trumpet? In the right order? In public?
That New Year resolution is beginning to seem like a moment of madness…
Sheena Greco will be giving a wonderful trumpet debut with the support of her teacher and Most Entertaining Tuition Director Finlay Hetherington on Sunday 29th April at 3pm in Life Care, Cheyne Street, Stockbridge.
During my recent European tour I also had some spare time and used this to write some more songs. Myself and Passenger had a great writing session one day where we came up with a concept and then started jamming on our guitars and bouncing lyrics of each other. It resulted in a new song called “Strangers”. Passenger (Mike Rosenberg) is a fantastic songwriter who often has very witty lyrics in his songs and we found that we worked really well together bouncing ideas off each other. Songwriting is very personal, everyone goes about it in slightly different ways. For me every song I write has it’s own journey from beginning to end. Sometimes I have a lyric or concept that comes into my head first and other times it is maybe a beat or an instrumental that is created to start with.
Whatever way you’re inspired and like to write, be creative, go with the flow and experiment a lot with different sounds & rhythms. Listen to a lot of varied music and genres as it’s possible to learn from them in terms of composing your own material. Play with words, write them down and record little samples in the process even just on your mobile phone so you won’t forget them and one day you will have your own song created. Some people work well in teams with others as well when songwriting, so this could be another option for you as sharing ideas with other musicians can be really fun.
I have also been in the recording studio since coming back from the European Tour and produced my recent EP with the amazing Jake Gosling, producer of Ed Sheeran’s platinum selling +Album. I had selected Jake as my producer as he understands my music very well and can interpret exactly how I want my music to sound like when produced in the studio. I would say to anyone looking to record their own material in a studio, find a producer you really feel you match up well with as it makes a massive difference to the end product. If you have a definite idea of how you want your music to sound like, its just a matter of finding a producer who can help you in the process. I have worked with a few different people in studios and they have all been very nice but not all have been able to interpret my music in the way I want it to sound like, so my advice is to ‘shop’ around before you decide who you may use for your recording experiences. My new EP was available for Pre Order on iTunes on 16th April and is being officially released on 23rd April – it’s called The Apple Tree!
I will be off on my own UK & Ireland Headline Tour soon as well as supporting Example on his UK Arena Tour. My new Martin guitar will be coming with me on this tour but the poor guitar does not have a name as yet and I like my guitars to have personal names I was thinking you could maybe all help me decide what to call my guitar……..There is still time to send in your entries to Most Entertaining which is where I first went to play guitar in a group with others, Prize for the most original name for my new guitar will win a guitar workshop course in Edinburgh. Competition is called ‘Name Nesse’s New Guitar’ Email [email protected] with this heading. Good Luck!
Nina Nesbitt is a currently taking coaching on piano with Most Entertaining and is a former guitar workshop student. The winner of Name Nessie’s New Guitar will be announced at Most Entertaining’s Spring Concert on Sunday 29th April and will have the opportunity to take part in the next guitar 6 week workshop course.
I strongly believe that music should be accessible to absolutely anyone. It should not matter whether you are young, old, a beginner or an established performer. All musical backgrounds must also be allowed to shine – there should be no elitism. In addition to this, music should always be fun. It is no coincidence that every music teacher I have come across shares a passion for terrible, but funny light hearted music related jokes. Any previous student who have been taught by me will vouch for my poor musical humour. For example, when teaching the word ‘diminished’ to exam students I often associated this key musical word with a Mini – a small car which used to arrive into the music school car park every Wednesday morning!
The main reason for my blog is that Most Entertaining’s Spring concert is now less than two weeks away and excitement is growing amongst a huge range of students and teachers. Since joining Most Entertaining last year as a piano and brass tutor, I have found that the company is much more than just a teaching agency and that public performance is a big part of the organisation. Having regular concerts allows musicians to meet each other, form new friendships as well as gain self confidence from playing in a relaxed setting. I am seeing first hand the benefits of having these concerts as a target for lessons, and pupils seem to love it.
In terms of performance I would like to share a few thoughts about preparing to play live to an audience. I believe the most important point is to try and enjoy it and have fun. For me, I have found that I can overcome performance issues through performing to someone I know in the audience, such as a family member. They can offer a smile and lots of support. Also, remember that everyone makes mistakes, no performance is perfect. Always keep the flow of the piece. Finally, and for me the most important point is to make the performance your own. Communicate, through dynamics, interpretation and style. If you feel the music should slightly slow down or speed up, do it. My final tip for more advanced performers is to try and understand the harmony behind your piece. It is with this understanding that it is then possible to react to the composer’s intentions much more, making way for further sensitivity within the performance.
Robert Briggs is the former assistant director of music of the Bethany School in Kent and now is a full-time piano and brass tutor for Most Entertaining. He will be accompanying students at our next concert on Sunday 29th April 3-5pm, Life Care, Cheyne Street, Edinburgh.
If you are interested in getting involved in music and wish to find out about taking up an instrument, but unsure whether to learn the piano, guitar or sing, please feel free to give us a call and we can help advise you. 0131 477 7821.
Hello everyone, spring has arrived and I’m back to tell you a bit about my touring experience around Europe, songwriting and a new competition I would like you all to be part of please
The last time I blogged I was just about to embark on my first ever European Tour as one of the support acts to Ed Sheeran. I was a little nervous about how I would feel about living on a tour bus for two weeks, but also very excited about the prospect of performing in lots of different countries and working beside two very experienced artists like Ed Sheeran (www.edsheeran.com/) and Passenger (www.passengermusic.com). After a couple of days of living on the tour bus I got into a routine with arriving at venues mid morning, get in to freshen up and then onto sound check to make sure all was set and ready for each show at night.
I also took time to meet with fans outside each venue and in Sweden I even performed a little daytime impromptu gig on the lakeside with a group of fans who had arrived early to the venue, which was a fantastic experience. I’ve always felt it important to communicate with the fans directly and cease each opportunity to do something fun and different with them, as without them I wouldn’t be having a music career in the first place so they mean a lot to me. In another city a few fans had brought along a sign which they held up in the audience when I was on stage, it said ‘Free Hugs’ so I thought why not and asked them up on stage for a hug! It was hilarious and made everyone smile and share hugs
I also filmed little clips along this journey right from leaving my house, all around Europe until I came back home again and as I planned on my return I edited all these clips into a video. I have used the montage video of all the European Tour clips with various cities, venues and lots of fans in it as the video for my lead track ‘The Apple Tree’ from my brand-new EP which is out on iTunes on 23rd April.
Most Entertaining’s Competition – Name Nessie’s New Guitar!
I will be off on my own UK & Ireland Headline Tour after my EP release in April as well as supporting Example on his UK Arena Tour. My new Martin guitar will be coming with me on this tour but the poor guitar does not have a name as yet and I like my guitars to have personal names I was thinking you could maybe all help me decide what to call my guitar. Send in your entries to Most Entertaining – which is where I first went to play guitar and sing in a group with others. The prize for the most original name for my new guitar will win a 6 week guitar workshop course in Edinburgh. Email entries by Saturday 28th April with the subject ‘Name Nessie’s guitar’ to [email protected]. I will announce the winner at Most Entertaining’s student gig on 29th April, Edinburgh. See their facebook page for details. http://www.facebook.com/events/160538887400508/
In the meantime, go check out my EP video : )
If you’re an aspiring musician and would like to learn the guitar, please get in touch with Most Entertaining about guitar lessons and the options available. 0131 477 7821.