Herts County Music Service is the largest county music service in the UK and this was billed as a talk on my life as a composer. The title I gave the presentation was “From Microjazz to Ringtones” and I began by talking about my early days as a composer and performer in New Zealand, with video and audio snippets from my Trio for 2 violins and piano and Quintet for 4 violins and piano. I then described how life as a high school music teacher in New Zealand (fortunately) coincided with a developing interest in popular music, although the first publications of mine to appear after I came to the UK in 1977 were all Christmas books! Microjazz followed shortly after (in 1983) and its success has enabled me to continue to work in a variety of music-related spheres – recording, midi file production, background music albums, tv music and ringtones! I described the range of other Boosey & Hawkes publications as well – Microstyles, Essential Guides, Preludes, Concert Collections, Big Beats, The Easiest Way To Improvise and the new editions of Microjazz with audio files (about to come out)
Here are some of the teachers listening to me perform pieces from one of the above series:
This was all interesting to the teachers and they could tell that some of the areas I work in are potential areas of future work for their students. Most of them had also used Microjazz pieces at some stage – one teacher there even claimed that Microjazz was the reason she was still in the music profession!
But the second part of the presentation was where the audience’s interest was really piqued – I introduced American Popular Piano and demonstrated, with the help of a teacher (who claimed not to be an improviser) how this revolutionary series can teach modern popular styles through reading music, but can also lead to improvisation, using an easy-to-follow, step-by-step approach that can be applied to a variety of situations. I showed video clips of Canadian children working on improvisation in groups and clips of young children playing with other players, including their teachers of course, as well as with tracks. Here is my Herts student-for-the-day at work:The teachers were very interested in both the materials (right across the board) and even more in the methodology that might allow the music to be used in more free-ranging ways and there was keen interest in the display of books:
The books positively glow don’t they!
This was a very positive occasion and many teachers came to speak to me afterwards - there is definitely an interest in a return visit from me, to work with string, woodwind and brass players as well as with keyboard groups.
Thanks to Tom Stewart for putting this event on and to Herts County Music Service.