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On Motivation

This is a thoughtful post on the nature of motivation and how changing demands and perceptions of life the world and everything affect it. 3 min read.

Some days things are hard. Some days things are easy. The summer sits somewhere between stillness and chaos and both the trickiest thing and the most wonderful gift is the lack of schedule. Working in academia means that there are cycles – semesters, modules, exams, students, tutorials, and then when it’s over, it’s all over and like water evaporating in the summer sun, everyone disappears. The commitments do not go, just the externally imposed structure and constraints of fitting around classes, meetings, and other people’s commitments seem to dissolve. Fantastic! -or a nightmare?

Sometimes by the end of a term it can feel like this: Read more

Fancy joining an orchestra – just for fun?

Here’s the newest venture. I am loving bringing together people from across the community and can’t wait to see how this develops over the coming months. In the meantime I have my work cut out as I arrange and transcribe the requests that people are bringing to me! It’s keeping me on my musical toes 🙂

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Live performance

People have asked when I would post some performances… Here you are! This is a live performance of Gabriel’s Oboe played by me, on cello, Ian East, sax, and the Addison Jazz Choir, led by Jill Jarman. It was recorded in a concert. The piece was composed by Ennio Morriconie and was the theme of the film The Mission. I came across this recording and was pleased to have permission to post it.

I think there is a sense that all musicians wait until something is completely perfect to post or share it… that brings in a lot of fear and also would kind of stop most people sharing most things they play. I decided to posted this, and will work to record more things in the future and post them too.


On hope

I am going to indulge in my thoughts. (3 min read) For a second day I have woken up early, before the birds, and before the light, because my head is full of so many different things. I cannot express how turbulent the past few days have been, and enlightening. I think. When I first made my website I put the few words to describe myself in the corner – and I did the same some years back when I joined twitter – a few words to explain. What about the essence?  

Essence can be so lovely – like the taste of the first English strawberry of the season, picked from the garden. I say English not to be patriotic, but because these Elsanta strawberries are different Read more

On love

I can’t sleep. I always sleep. I love people deeply and I believe in humanity, but this troubles me.

These are thoughts on love, from a me as a person- not a straight person, not a married person, not a woman, but from me as a person. Yes, all of those ‘labels’ contribute to form my identity and are a part of who I am, but they don’t define this discussion.

It’s story time. How I fell in love. People often ask ‘how did you meet your husband?’ and I love to tell the story, and yes, it is relevant. Read more

kindness: please add more

I’ve been wondering what to write about for a while now, and this isn’t a fancy post, but I feel the need to add some kindness today.

Saturday, driving home from spending the day at the university doing the department open day talks, there was a young mum carrying two small children (one on each hip) who was walking by the side of the road, alongside a farmer’s field. There was no pavement or sidewalk and the children were wiggly. I initially drove by and thought, oh that’s tough. I remember carrying two smalls… I turned around and drove back to her, rolled down the window, and asked if she needed help and if she had far to go. (the two small children were both walking now and that wasn’t a good thing on a busy back road.) She said they were just going to the next drive at the end of the field, but was so pleased that I had asked/offered to help her.

It took seconds of my time and nearly no effort.

There is still room for kindness and trust in people in our world.

Teaching like strawberries

They grow

and run

and make fabulous fruit

This morning I was mentioned in a tweet by Simon that pointed me to this post by Autumn. We are connected through a filament in the ether.

Her post was written as a prelude to #Rhizo16 and this is a big collective that is hung together by emergent themes- and I followed it a bit last year, but didn’t get too involved exactly for a reason that Autumn mentioned. She called it IMB –

Interpersonal Multitudes Barrier (IMB) it is a simple equation – the more voices you add to a synchronous conversation the more you see a reduction in intimacy in that conversation.

I find that very difficult. I find small talk very difficult exactly for that reason. I am interested in what makes people tick. I want to know and be known. Connection is so fulfilling.

Read more

Feedback is all around us: SEDA Workshop 2016

Linking Skills, Feedback,


Assessment to develop Student Agency and Achievement


That was the title of my workshop at the SEDA (Staff and Educational Development Association) Conference on Assessment & Feedback and I had great fun. There were 40+ in the room and the plan was to talk to them for the first bit, presenting core ideas and a context for assessment. Then we broke into five groups, around tables and I gave them the brief to write an essay based on the information given so far…

What happened next was very interesting indeed. Everyone did something very different to what I expected. In my naive mind, I imagined that people would ‘get on with the task’ and just write an essay.

This was the beginning of a fantastic lesson for me. I know I was presenting, but I was learning. Read more

Looking back and moving forward

Last week I held the last of three sessions for the Connected Classes project. They wove themselves into one of my university modules and became the content. The students in my class were studying one-to-one teaching in music, and they all had taught a student of their own throughout this term. Our usual ending sessions had to do with looking at the wider picture, troubleshooting, and reflecting on the experiences over the term and and so we used (and expanded) those ideas to engage with them as part of our #cclasses sessions.

We had one of the librarians visit us and watch what was going on. She wanted to see me teach, but I told her this would be like no other session she had ever seen, I probably wouldn’t even seem like the teacher! I invited her to bring her headphones and join in. She did listen, but didn’t tweet – instead she made notes, and I asked her permission to share some of her notes with you. So here you have an observer’s account of what went on… Read more

What makes you tick? Musical inspiration

This is the last of our three sessions for the Connected Classes project and this week the class decided to celebrate moments/people/events that were pivotal in their musical development.

I set about gathering these moments (anonymously) from anyone and everyone, and it was funny (odd) to be met with such varied reactions. I had everything from blank faced looks to nervous laughter at the idea that I was interested in what made them musically tick. Read more