How to Practice Part 2

What to practice?

Always make sure that you are covering the work your teacher has set you. Keep a practice diary where both your teacher and you can make notes to help remind you of the repertoire you are to work on between lessons.

At the start of your practice session, it is good habit to begin with a warm up using scales and arpeggios. Start with the ones which are familiar to you and continue by moving on to less familiar or new ones. Keep practicing old scales and arpeggios once you have learnt them to keep them fresh.

When working on your pieces, try to identify the difficult passages that need extra work. You may need to play very short phrases over and over many times, so set yourself a goal of perfecting just a few bars during each practice session. This is a more effective way of learning a new piece, since playing a piece through from the beginning to the end is only really beneficial once the piece is already polished.

Alongside practicing your pieces and scales, try your hand at improvising, sight-reading new pieces or revisiting old pieces you have previously learnt. Most importantly, try to use your practice time productively.

Support from parents

Practicing is a lonely activity and a lot of children benefit from encouragement and support from their parents. Parents’ company and praise is especially useful in the early stages. Take an active interest in your child’s playing and try to periodically sit in and listen to their practice sessions. Create opportunities for your child to perform by playing to family or friends. Perhaps ask your child to teach you something they are currently working on in their lessons?

I hope that these suggestions will be useful to students and parents and that they will help to establish habits through which good progress can be made.

Li Boberg trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and at the Royal Academy of Music in Copenhagen. She is currently teaching around Berkshire and she freelances as a double bassist with many of the UK’s major orchestras


February’s Most Entertaining Gig

The Circus Café, St Mary’s Street Edinburgh, was the venue for the latest Most Entertaining gig in February. Osman Celik, the owner opened the Café especially for us. The gig kicked off at around 8pm with the guitar group and around 10 guitarists featuring experienced and new guitarists. They did a selection of old and new tunes, all getting the chance on “lead”.

We singers did four songs, our own “Transatlantic Session”. We started with Down to the River, made famous in the film O Brother, Where Art Thou which featured George Clooney, and finished with I Can’t Stand the Rain, which Maeve the tutor arranged for us, based on a soul version by Seal. The singer pianist Woodstock Tailor made a guest appearance at the gig, and did a moody version of My Funny Valentine – most appropriate for 15 February.

The two tutors closed the show, Maeve Mackinnon, with a spine chilling Gaelic number, followed by Chris Day the guitar tutor singing and playing. The next singing and guitar workshops are planned to start in May, with a gig in June. Before then on Sunday 1 April, 2012 there will be a performance from some of Most Entertaining students who take one to one music lessons.

Margaret Fletcher, piano and vocal workshop student with Most Entertaining since 2006.


The MU Jazz Ensemble arrives in Edinburgh

The Mansfield University Jazz Ensemble is a select group of 16-18 students under the direction of Michael Galloway. This outstanding ensemble has been an award winning band at the Villanova Jazz Festival and has also been honored with two appearances at the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association State Conference, as well an MENC Regional Convention in Rochester, New York. They have also been featured in a performance in Harrisburg in a concert sponsored by the Central Pennsylvania Friends of Jazz and have been guests at several Pennsylvania and New York Jazz Festivals.

The MU Jazz Ensemble also hosts the annual MU Jazz Festival, as well as having other jazz greats as guest soloists with the band.  The list of visiting jazz artists reads like a “Who’s Who” in jazz and includes Lew Soloff, Bob Mintzer, Jiggs Whigham, Randy Brecker, Kenny Warner, The Airmen of Note, DIVA, Ryan Kisor, Denis DiBlasio, Ingrid Jensen, Michael Davis, The Commodores, Wayne Bergeron, and many others!

The Mansfieldians numbers eight singers who specialize in vocal jazz. Under the direction of Sheryl Monkelien, their performances have included Music Educators National Conference (MENC) Eastern PA, and in the 2006 Vocal Jazz Festival at Carnegie Hall with conductor, Phil Mattson. Two summers ago they won the Jazz Vocal a Cappella Category at the 2008 World Choir Games in Graz, Austria. They have also hosted the internationally acclaimed vocal jazz artists The REAL GROUP in concert.

Concert sponsored by Most Entertaining Music Tuition

Venue: Main Auditorium – Tynecastle High School, 2 Macleod Street, Edinburgh
Concert Time:
8pm (music on from Edinburgh Schools Symphony Orchestra will play from 7pm)
12th March
Call our office to book your place 0131 477 7821 or email [email protected]


How to Practice Part 1

Li BobergAs an instrumental teacher I am often asked by parents how much time their child should spend practicing between lessons. When taking up an instrument it is important to create good habits of practice from the beginning therefore I have put together some suggestions which I hope will be helpful:


Find a regular time slot for practice and try as far as you can to keep that time. Don’t leave the practice until the end of the day as you maybe too tired by then. Schedule your practice time for when you are fresh, perhaps in the morning before leaving for school.

How much?

Regularity is the key here, not the amount. Much more will be achieved with 20 minutes practice a day throughout the week then trying to do a marathon practice session the night before the next lesson. For young beginners, 5-10 minutes a day can be sufficient. When students get to grades 4 or 5 they should be aiming to do at least 30 minutes a day.

Li Boberg trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and at the Royal Academy of Music in Copenhagen. She is currently teaching around Berkshire and she freelances as a double bassist with many of the UK’s major orchestras.


Brit awards and touring dates for Nina Nesbitt

Hi there, it’s Nina Nesbitt here again with a little update on my recent musical adventures 🙂

Since the last time I posted my blog here I have been busy receiving a lot of music video entries for my competition to find some fabulous support acts for my Mini UK Tour in April/May 2012. It is still open for anyone to enter, with the deadline being 1st March 2012. Here are the details again if you are keen to send in an entry and get a chance to play in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester or London.

For my mini tour in April 2012 I have a main support act travelling with me. However, in each city – London, Manchester, Glasgow & Edinburgh – I’m going to have someone different to open up my show each night. I’m really supportive of other upcoming or aspiring artists so I’m going to select 4 different people for the different cities to open up each show for me. If you’d like a chance to support me in one of the cities please email ”[email protected] ” with your cover of one of my songs from the Nina Nesbitt ‘Live Take’ EP and also the city you’d like to support me in. For the gigs in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester you must be 14+ and for London gig it is 16+ to take part in the competition. You do not have to have gig experience, I’m just trying to give some new artists a platform to showcase their talents. You can find my ‘live take’ Ep tracks on iTunes, Amazon and YouTube to listen to, search Nina Nesbitt. Good luck!

Part of my job as a musician is to travel a lot and see many places as I write, play and record in a lot of different cities. But, when I am back home in Edinburgh, I am also learning to play the piano at the moment by having tuition with the fantastic Will Pickvance. I’ve really been enjoying these FUN piano sessions and it’s certainly making me feel a lot more confident in using a digital piano for my live shows. It’s also giving me better skills with my composing on the piano. I would recommend anyone to learn more than one instrument if you are a keen musician, as it can really enhance your performance and also encourage you to write music in many different ways.

I write my own songs and sometimes I use the guitar and other times it will be the piano that brings me a melody that I really like. People write in many different ways, and often ask me how do I do it? Well, sometimes a melody comes to me first, other times it’s maybe a guitar riff that sounds interesting that I build on. However, it is not always that I write the melody first, sometimes it is the lyrics that come to me from observations I make in daily life or even experiences myself and my friends have. I can remember once sitting on Bus 44 and something caught my eye which inspired a song. I always carry a little writing book in my bag and write down lyrics/ideas as they come into my head. Occasionally you will find me sitting on the train or the bus when I’m on my travels singing quietly into my mobile phone to record a melody or lyric that has just come to me, haha! Mobile phones are great for writing your lyrics down on or recording your melodies so that they are not lost, it may give you a few funny looks on the bus but you get used to it 🙂

Soon I will be heading back to London again to co-write with a few very experienced people that have written for artists such as Adele, Ellie Goulding, James Morrison and Ed Sheeran etc. I do prefer to write material on my own but also find it very interesting to write with others. One can learn a lot about the processes they use and techniques to write those very successful and beautiful songs that many of them have had major hits with. They are very experienced writers, sharing skills and experiences with each other can only be a good thing. The same as learning to play an instrument really. Sharing skills is great fun & so very creative!

My recent headline gig in Glasgow in early February was one of my favourite shows ever!! Both Chloe Latimer & Jonny Downie were brilliant as my support acts and they both rose to the challenge big time of showcasing their talents – they really rocked it!! Everyone in the crowd where absolutely amazing and very supportive. They listened intently to my music and I had the most fantastic time meeting all my fans after the show, by spending time chatting to them all and responding to photo requests & autographs. I think it’s really important if you are an artist out there ‘gigging’ that you definitely take time to meet the people in the audience who very kindly made the effort to come and see you play and continue to support your music. Without them a successful music career as a performing artist would not be possible, so to me they are the most important people. Most of the fans also follow me on Twitter, @ninanesbitt , and on Facebook, , where I makes sure I interact with them by trying to respond to most of the comments on my music FB page and some tweets here and there. It is a great forum to be able to give a little bit back to the people who have supported you along the way and continue to do so and spread the love of music to others as well.

If you are a budding musician I would advise you to set up an artist page on Facebook and a Twitter account, it is very important in the music world at this moment in time 🙂 Get online, use YouTube to post things your music on and look for gig opportunities and instrumental / vocal tuition to help you fine tune your skills and build your confidence in your chosen instrument.
One of my other little past times is that I do secret gigs around the UK from time to time, to gain more performance experience and to have the chance to play along side other more experienced musicians also.
I recently did a gig in Newcastle at the Cluny 2 with three other lovely touring musicians who very kindly introduced me to their audience as their special guest of the night. It’s a brilliant way to gain more experience and quite exciting to be the surprise guest that no one may have heard of before and extend their musical interests hopefully by putting on a good performance.

The BRIT AWARDS are on the cards next for me to attend and then I’m away on a Tour around Europe with Ed Sheeran & Passenger, which will be an amazing experience no doubt. I shall be back to share more of my musical adventures along the way. I will give you an update on my Brit Award experience & share with you all what life is like touring on a double decker bus for 2 weeks! I bet I will miss my own bed, ha! Watch this space!! 😀 Nina x


La Gamme D’amour

Preparing for and recording a new disc of French Renaissance and Baroque music for guitar and lute during valentine’s week has inadvertently turned my thoughts to the unavoidable connection between this music and romantic love.

It’s very easy for us to conjur up the somewhat cliched image of the stricken lover, woefully plucking his lute to some melancholy air beneath the window of his coy or cruel mistress, or as it is beautifully rendered in Shakespeare’s ‘As you like it’, ‘Is it not strange that sheep’s guts could hail souls out of men’s bodies?’ There is however a good deal of truth in the image of the lute or guitar being an essential weapon in the war of seduction. In many of Watteau’s paintings guitars in particular are often put in this context, ‘La gamme d’amour (the scale of love) being an excellent example, where the sensual intentions of the gracefully strumming gallant seem entirely obvious to the onlooker. Indeed, the appearence of the 5 course guitar in Spain towards the end of the 16th century did in fact engender a sense of outrage in those of a conservative musical or moral disposition who feared that this easily played and strummed instrument (‘There is not a stable boy who is not a musician on the guitar’) would bring about a moral decline very similar to the fears expressed when rock and roll first appeared in the 1950s. Certainly the guitar enjoyed a reputation of louche sensuality ‘It has a certain something that is feminine and pleasing to women, flattering their hearts and making them inclined to voluptiousness’. Perhaps it was the absence of a full bass register on this new instrument which associated it with all things feminine and contrasted it with the nobler lute and its ever expanding bass range.

Thankfully the guitar’s reputation was given a boost by two of its most famous exponents Louis XIV in France and Charles II in Restoration England. One musician, the Italian guitarist/composer Francesco Corbetta (1615-81) in particular flanks these two monarchs having been an important figure at both courts. Corbetta was initially brought to Versailles to be Louis’ guitar tutor and was very likely part of the entourage which accompanied the triumphant Charles on his return to England’s throne in 1660. Corbetta even dedicated a book of music (both called ‘La guitarre royalle’) to each king. The guitar enjoyed a great period of vogue in restoration England and was extemelly popular among young ladies of rank ‘Francesco had composed a sarabande, which either charmed or infatuated every person; for the whole guitarery at court were trying at it; and god knows what a universal strumming there was’. Corbetta’s music also finds itself at the centre of a sexual intrigue where the Duke of York, supposedly desirous to play the aforementioned sarabande uses it as an excuse to visit the chambers of the Lady Chesterfield who was apparently the owner of the ‘best guitar in England’. Her husband however realised what was going on, ‘Jealousy, like a malignant vapour now seized upon his brain: a thousand suspicions, blacker than ink took possesion of his imagination and were continually increasing; for while the brother played upon the guitar to the duke the sister ogled and accompanied him with her eyes as if the coast had been clear and no enemy to observe them.’

If contemporary reports about the guitar are to be believed, then it does seem to be the perfect instrument for both of these typically baroque monarchs with their endless streams of mistresses, love of spectacle, dancing, theatre and general merrymaking. Indeed the guitar does seem to symbolise the absolute epitome of everything that would have seemed abhorant to Cromwell and his puritanical cohorts and for this reason alone, without even considering its rich and beautiful repertoire, it should be celebrated.

‘La Royalle’ featuring music by Corbetta dedicated to Charles II, alongside guitar and theorbo music by De Visee and music for renaissance guitar and lute by Attaignant, Le Roy, Morlaye and Brayssing will be released by Delphian records (DCD 111) later this year.

Gordon J S Ferries Feb 2012  –

Gordon is one of the UK’s foremost exponent of the baroque guitar.


Singing with Most Entertaining

I have been singing with Most Entertaining Vocal Workshops since they started a couple of years ago. Before that I had sung with big choirs but was ready for a change. There are at most 15-20 in a group, though sometimes a bit smaller too.  We do a variety of different types of songs such as pop (over the decades), soul, traditional/folk, jazz, gospel, African and Gaelic etc. You can suggest a favourite to the singing tutor too. The tutors arrange the songs into harmonies and teach them to us, and you don’t have to be able to read music. We sometimes write our own words to music and create improvised harmonies which is challenging, but great fun. We do a “gig” at the end of each 6 week workshop with the guitar group; friends and family can come along.

One of the highlights for me has been the chance to perform solo. I chose Moon River, one of my favourite jazz songs. I was really nervous as hadn’t done this before, but made sure I had learnt the words – there aren’t too many.  I had a one to one lesson with Kira the tutor and Finlay from Most Entertaining accompanied me on the piano, so I was really well prepared. The second time Kira asked for a volunteer to do Valerie, one of my favourite songs and my hand shot up right away. We used a backing track and the rest of the singing group did backing vocals – awesome!

The next gig is coming up soon, and it’s an exciting time. As the gig approaches, you have to practice the harmonies and learn the words, though we can use the words at the gig if needed. The tutor sends recordings on MP3s to help, so it’s not too demanding. It’s a really friendly atmosphere. This term we had Freddie King a jazz singer teach us some serious breath techniques and Maeve Mackinnon a traditional singer has prepared some great acoustic arrangements of bluegrass and  well know pop songs. Looking forward to having fun singing on Wednesday.

Margaret Fletcher, February 2012

She will be participating in our next workshop gig at Circus, St Mary’s Street on February 15th 7pm


The function of music

I want to start at the beginning and write a little about the function of music.

In a culture where everything is measured, assessed and standardised, there is little reflection on what making music means and how we can use it to promote well-being, improve our family and social relationships, and of course, to express ourselves.

The word music is derived from the Greek ‘mousa’, which refers to the nine Greek goddesses (or nine Muses) who inspired creation and embodied all art. Another interesting fact is that many other cultures don’t have a general word for music. It is such an integral part of their existence and way of life that it simply doesn’t exist as a separate subject or activity. The word as we know it was defined by Edgard Varèse as ‘organised sound’. The idea being that any sound deliberately organised by human creation, is music. He also stated that natural sounds (such as waterfalls, or birds singing) can be musical, but are not actually music.

If any organised sound is music, then how do we define good music? If sound is created as a result of a highly skilled person playing an instrument to a respectably high standard, then surely it is good music? I don’t think so. The Greeks had the right idea. They believed music to be divine, and a result of direct intervention of the Gods. This meant that music had a high purpose, and it was believed that music brought people closer to the divine. If we take out the spiritual element but hang on to the same idea, then good music will bring people closer to each other, or closer to God if they so desire. The performer or the creator of the music is the messenger, so he or she needs to have this intention for it to pass on to any listener. As a composer or a performer, if a musician’s intention is to do this, then it is good music whatever the level or standard of the musician.

Nadine teaches piano at the Royal Academy of Music Junior School and is Director of Classical Babies, Teddington.


Can you support Nina Nesbitt?

Hi everyone, let me introduce myself……

I’m Nina Nesbitt, a 17 year old singer/songwriter from Edinburgh. I finished high school in June 2011 which gave me the chance to focus on my music full time. I’ve always liked singing & writing songs and begun posting cover songs initially on YouTube to get some feedback from people. I also looked for opportunities to start performing more at live music venues at beginning of the summer last year, as well as attending Most Entertaining for some instrumental tuition and performances.

Nina Nesbitt plays PianoSince last summer my music career has taken off at an amazing speed following my live performances, one of which Ed Sheeran seen and subsequently invited me to support him in Glasgow & duet with him in London. Example heard about me & viewed one of my covers on YouTube of his song Stay Awake and liked it so much he asked me to support him in Manchester, Newcastle & Glasgow. It’s been a crazy few months with a lot of opportunities coming my way in terms of my own music career and I will be back on here to blog regularly to share more of my musical adventures & experiences very soon.

In the meantime, for my up and coming mini tour in April 2012 of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and London I have launched a Competition today on my Facebook page which gives other keen up and coming artists the chance to support me on this tour by opening up my show in one of these cities. If you’re interested in taking part here are the details below, which you can also find on my Facebook page

COMPETITION TIME: For my mini tour in April 2012 I’ve got an idea of the main support act I’m going to take with me. However, in each city – London, Manchester, Glasgow & Edinburgh – I’m going to have someone different to open up my show each night. Instead of me being told who is supporting me I’ve come to the conclusion I’d like to decide myself. I’m really supportive of other upcoming or aspiring artists so I’m going to select 4 different people for different cities to open up the night for me. If you’d like a chance to support me in one of the cities please email ”[email protected] ” with your cover of one of my songs from the Nina Nesbitt ‘Live Take’ EP and also the city you’d like to support me in. For the gigs in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester you must be 14+ and for London gig it is 16+ to take part in the competition. You do not have to have gig experience, I’m just trying to give some new artists a platform to showcase their talents. You can find my ‘live take’ Ep tracks on iTunes and YouTube to listen to, search Nina Nesbitt. Closing date for this competition is 1st March 2012. Good luck!

At my headline show at Glasgow Beanscene on Thursday 2nd February I’ve also chosen a local girl from Clydebank High School to open my show as I heard her sing recently and really liked her voice. I feel it’s important to give other young people a chance to show case their musical talent and look forward to having Chloe Latimer (15) open my show in Glasgow!! Jonny Downie another young up and coming artist will be my main support on the evening. You can find both artists on Facebook 🙂


Championing the works of Rabbie Burns

Championing the works of Robert Burns is not difficult for me. For me, as
a folk singer of both Gaelic and English, the importance of his musical and
literary legacy cannot be underestimated in the history of the world.
Where do I even begin?
To name a few classics, “Auld Lang Syne” is sung all over the world to bring
in the new year, while “Ae Fond Kiss” is one of the most devastating love
songs ever composed.

Admittedly, there were times as a child where I despised his beautiful
poetic meter; I blame the Scottish education system, for at Primary School
assemblies and Burns evenings we were forced, at the age of 8, to stutter
our way through large sections of Burns’ poetry onstage. We murdered it.
Our teachers probably wanted to murder us. All public humiliation aside
however, the melodies and lyrics to all of the songs stayed with me, and my
imagination was always utterly captivated by the stories, such as the tale of
Tam O’Shanter.

About 5 years ago I started gigging with a young guitarist who had rewritten
the melody to one of Burns’ songs, Fare Thee Weel. The song nearly floored
me the first time I heard it, and I decided I would do my darndest to get him to
record it on my next solo album.
The album in question, “Once Upon An Olive Branch”, comes out in late
2012. If you get the chance, have a wee listen and let me know what you
think. Join me on Facebook and Twitter!
Twitter: @maevemackinnon
Maeve Mackinnon on Facebook