A week ago I was in Los Angeles with a small group of my students and one of my colleagues. We lived together, travelled together, worked together, performed, taught, improvised, and laughed. It is a final-year credit bearing class at the University of Chichester that started as a student initiative four years ago. The first group’s story became a book (you can download it for free via the link) and they named the initiative Musiquality, bringing quality and connection through music and education. Each year since the students have created an educational outreach project that touches the lives of children and adults, and inevitably changes their own lives as well.
This year the students involved in the trip raised over £1000 performing at gigs and busking and I raised money too, giving a benefit concert and through leading my community orchestra. Together we raised just under $2000 and bought 60 ukuleles to use in workshops and then donate to the establishments we visited. Read more
On Sunday, February 4th I’m giving a concert at the University of Chichester. It will be an afternoon of cello, and I am very fortunate to be accompanied by Music Alumni, Simon Arthurs on the 1876 Steinway Fancy D piano, and we will be joined by Natalia Corolscaia, on violin, for the final two pieces. The programme includes Bach, Boccherini, Chopin, Elgar, and Piazzolla. There is no entry charge – and for those of you who might be far away, we will be streaming the concert (link below).
For the past few years I have run an International Experience module where students take their learning to across the world, literally. This year we are going to Los Angeles to teach music to various groups. A small group of students will come with me and they have planned their teaching- they have a great goal that involves raising some money: When we teach in LA, leading ukulele and singing workshops, we want to give each of the groups we work with a set of ukuleles for their class to keep.
In the spirit of good fundraising, I’m helping out too with this concert. If you can make it in person FAB! It really is free (with a retiring collection to fund those instruments and support the trip!). If you can’t make it, join me remotely! I’ll be live-streaming it using the uni’s lecture recording software via this link:
You can support us with any sized donation via this link. And you can read a bit about the students coming with me.
In LA we’ll be teaching at a suburban primary school outside of Hollywood, a school in the heart of Los Angeles, and we’ll be teaching UCLA students who spend their summers working at UniCamp. UCLA UniCamp is a non-profit camp that has serviced the Greater LA area for the past 85 years. They take campers from under-served populations and take them to a residential summer camp experience and provide them with a camp experience they wouldn’t otherwise be able to have while teaching them the importance of higher education and tools needed to combat current social issues. All of the camp counsellors are UCLA student volunteers that train over 100 hours in preparation for their session of camp.
It would be amazing to be able to donate instruments to these schools and to UniCamp after we work with them. Hope you can donate £1 (or more!) to the cause and hope to see you at the concert!
California here we come! (yes, again!!) Remember that crazy trip where my students fundraised their way to America? and then it became a credit-bearing class? The one that also became a book? Well this is that class, we’re getting ready to hit the sunshine in 2018!
…not just yet, actually the class doesn’t ‘officially’ start until the new year, but the students joining me this year started their work back in May. They spent the summer fundraising and playing together and now they have been devising workshops for groups of students in primary schools and also for staff as well. The sessions for staff aim to give camp councillors the foundations for some fun summer workshops they can use with their campers.
Every year the cohort on this module is different. Last year I was busy preparing formal recital material with one of the students so we could perform as a duo. This year the group have formed a folk band with me on cello, a drum/bass, ukulele, and singer. They will be teaching the underlying chords and components of some great tunes, as well as presenting elements of their own instruments and interests. The singer will be teaching some traditional Polish songs, and the ukulele player just shared this with me: (can you identify the tune? … my 10 year old can!)
I can’t wait to see what they come up with in the coming months. This is one of those classes where students put into real life use the skills they have learned throughout their degree. We’re even hoping to go to a conference together.
Our trip to California is in February, and in the meantime we’re working on fundraising to buy ukuleles for all the kids we work with. We would love to do workshops and leave instruments with each of the schools. Watch this space for updates on our trip and fundraising.
As they say … pass it on! 🙂
Yesterday I got the best email. It is slightly odd that it was so exciting and that I am sharing it because it was a rejection letter. That’s right: Not interested, no thank you, but it was not presented that way, and in turn, this letter was hugely encouraging to me.
If you have read anything from this blog you will know that over the past year I have been writing up an adventure that I had with five of my students as a book. The manuscript was finished at the end of last year, and then I did what I guess any new author does, sent it in to publishing houses. I knew many well known authors, J.K. Rowling for example, had numerous rejections before an acceptance. I got a really nice letter back from one publisher on January 11th that said…. Read more
This is the story of a remarkable few months that took me and 5 students 6000 miles across the ocean.
Well, this book (like me) is slightly different… I had that confirmed when I received this reply (rejection!) from a big publishing house:
Thank you so much for your submission. It is a fascinating and inspiring story, well told.
However, it is not a good fit with the publishing program here [name removed]. As you say, your book “is neither a theoretical nor a how-to book,” and those are precisely the central pillars in our approach to professional development material for educators. I’m sorry. So many times I wish we could make room for things outside the box—
Fortunately I can think outside the box, and don’t give up that easily. Perhaps publishing this book is my small way to make room or pave a way for those people who, like me, think a little bit outside…
As educators we hear the great stories of how people achieve lovely things, but we don’t often hear the whole story. In this story the ups are there, and so are the downs- and you get to see how we got through it. It is not all roses, and the rosey picture portrayed by well-positioned selfies can really give a distorted view of reality and of the work needed to get stuff done. That doesn’t mean wonderful things aren’t possible- on the contrary – I firmly believe we can do more than we can understand.
That doesn’t imply that doing things is easy. Heck, even pushing ‘submit’ on that kindle book took me a moment. I hesitated and doubted, and then thought, ‘do I want to do this??’ YES. YES I DO.
We need examples that are real. I hope that these pages provide some wonderful examples from lovely people. I count myself very privileged to have spent time with them and learned from them.
Photo taken by Jess (and the selfie stick)
I’ve had another adventure in learning and teaching… and sometimes when things are so good, it is hard to begin to put them on paper. This post is a glimpse.
I’ll call it: ‘Part 1: Of Many’
I know that my students will have to carve their places in the world of music- that there are few traditional ‘jobs’ that exist anywhere. Graduates don’t walk out of education and walk into a single full time secure job in music. Part of what I do is work to develop experiences that hold a bank of skills so that as people progress they can build their metaphorical pantry. …With shelves full of ingredients someone can make more than a PB&J sandwich in the restaurant of their musical lives. I like (and feel the need) to grow and develop my repertoire of musical skills and experiences. Read more