Saturday, 7 January 2017

Coop Steel play Coop Winter concert

Over the last decade I have been a peri at the Primrose/Cooperative School/Academy, been acting Head of Music during a maternity leave, and been the part-time second music teacher. And on a regular basis the Sparrows have played the Awards Evenings and International Days.

And each time I look at the set of pans that Xanthe bought for the school with our help from the Music Service help nearly twenty years ago. And give them a little stroke of love and hope.

Now with the arrival of Sharleen pans, and hope, are back on the agenda. Yippee!

excitement in my back room
We had the pans tuned in September. Grafton and I went to the school one Friday evening: G tuned the basses and guitars on the spot. I took the seconds and soprano pan home where Grafton tuned the soprano, but, in the excitement of doing StClair and Melvin's pans, we missed the double seconds.

Carrying one half, trolleying the other

I took these to London in the van when the Sparrows played St Paul's, gave them to Grafton, then he brought them to Kings Cross when I went down to an NUT meeting and staggered back to Leeds with them on the train - to the surprise of my union colleagues.

Awards Evening 2014

Awards Evening 2015

International Day 2015

All these efforts were more than rewarded by the arrival of Ellie, Ronita and Jess on the scene. They started learning on September the 19th and played the winter concert on December 14th. We performed as a quintet: me on the tune, the girls on chords and bass and Ben on kit. All I can say is power and accuracy. What a team!

I teach steelpans through Leeds ArtForms Music Service where I am
Steel Pan Development Officer and Head of Steelpans

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Foxwood Steel play Miggy Family Centre - Loverly

The Elves dismantling the gazebo
So, if it's Thursday, it must be the third gig in three days. Yay.

After the Town Hall [one rehearsal, two gigs] it is a relief to arrive at Middleton Family Centre. It is dark, a bit wet and it is cold and they have erected a gazebo in the front garden.

And Natalie and Georgia have just pulled up! Stand back.

I explain to Tom that it can't happen, and he agrees; we play inside a
little office; Gig and Natnat return to normal.

If we appear not to be smiling, well . . . we aren't; we are all sight-righting like-crazy stuff we haven't played for twelve months;

We are me, Natalie, Vicky, Georgia and Charlotte. We played for nearly hours and tried not to repeat any Christmas songs. However we only had Vicky's one book and a few odd copies of this and Christmas that. Some songs we have never played before. Georgia kept asking, "So how does this go?"

The audience loved us, and sang along with Jingle Bells and some others. And we loved them.

We ate mince pies and loverly cups of tea, and went home happier than we expected.

East Steel play the YAMSEN:SpeciallyMusic concert at Leeds Town Hall


Final judging

This is my second year coordinating the YAMSEN:SpeciallyMusic Concert and Art Competition. So, in between rehearsing with Bex with East Steel, I, with the rest of the Christmas concert team, am sorting out 352 art competition entries, prizes, tickets, framing the winning pictures, booking Father Christmas, and all the rest.

Accords rehearsing at St Chad's
Tony and Tinker framing the pics

Yorkshire Post Band rehearsing

Pinning down Father Christmas! Very hard. He is so busy at this time of the year.

Sue was whizzing round so fast!
Alyosha with Yorkshire Post Band

The Minster Choir

display by the back doors

The YAMSEN:SpeciallyMusic Christmas concert committee: myself, Mavis, Pat, Anna-Marie, Diane C, Diane P, Sue S, Joanna. Framing the winning pictures were Josh and Tony from St Anne's Road Framers. Judging the competition were Anna-Marie and Cath. Special guest was Alan,

Sophie T
David H

Shirley from the Box Office organised the tickets. Making the mince pies was Val; buying the wine and generally doing the sums was Anne; rattling buckets, selling tickets and cards on the day were Liz, Chloe and parents and sister,  Barbara, Colette, Irene, Elsie, Emily, Pat, Margery, Lyn, Ann; Nativity scene was from Lucy and the kids from Queensway. Liz from the Town Hall administered us; Olwyn stewarded us safe; Eric, Steven, Michael, Mark and  Robert rearranged the furniture on an industrial scale!

Off the Cuff were Philip, Alex, Michael, Alice, Bart, Joanna, Diane. The Yorkshire Evening Post Band were Diane, Rebecca, Matt, Tom,  Samantha, Paul, Steve, Glyn, Julian,  David, Steve, Kathryn, Alyosha.
Father Christmas just to right of the pillar
Leading the Accords were Joanna, Sophie and Clare; leading Off By Heart were Mavis, Alosha and Joanna; leading East Steel were myself and Bex. Conducting the Yorkshire Evening Post Band was Alyosha, with Diane C organising it. Leading Off the Cuff was Diane.  Simon compered, and conducted when Alyosha wasn't; David played the organ, and conducted the Minster choir.

Queensway rehearsing their Nativity

Prize-winners were congratulated on stage by Lord Mayor, Cllr Jerry Harper.

Meanwhile, really this is a blog for steelband concerts, so back to East Steel: For our featured tunes w e played Dance of the Hours by Ponchielli and Rolling in the Deep by Adele.

East Steel were Bex, me, Lynn, Wanda, Joyce, YiBai, Anne, Trish, Maddie, Josie, Vicky, Sophie. Gill, alas, ill on the night.

East Steel is a Leeds ArtForms Music Centre band, who rehearse Thursday evenings at Swarthmore College, Park Lane, Leeds. Followed by a beginners class, beginning January 12th. Beginners welcome.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows play LSMA Town Hall concert

Always love the big mirror in the understage dressing room

Good news is that Bella has come back to Sparrows; bad news is that Millie S and Chloe are in Derby and Manchester respectively. Good news is that Millie C is not working on Tuesday, and Ashley's bike is back on the road; bad news is that Bella, Claudia and Millie C can't do the rehearsal, and then bad news on the day is that Ashley's mum has to go into hospital.

Good news is that the New Sparrows are shaping up nicely; bad news is that we have two weeks' notice of this gig; also we have to squash up on two little risers back right of the main stage. Lol. Good news is that Oulton Primary [Head of Music - our very own Wanda Thorpe!] is directly behind us! Even more lol.

restringing the bass

We play Walking in the Air and Rolling in the Deep as our featured tunes, and have a stab at the joint Saviour's Day, Nice tune, but a bit tricky what with the structure and the occasional shorter bar.

We were me, Bex, Natalie, Alice, Millie C, Owen, Isha, Lucy, Annie, Ella, Kirsten and Claudia. [Plus Wanda played at the rehearsal]

Because we recently lost our rehearsal room, and have spent autumn term 2016 living out of my Little Blue Transit, we have gone for single pans rather than double seconds and triple cellos etc. So we fit [just] on the Town Hall riser shelves. However, I spot a destringed double bass pan. This requires urgent surgery at the rehearsal!

The worst casualty of the multiple-drum single instrument is poor old Lucy on the bass. When she moved from Steel Rising to Sparrows she agreed to take up bass, and. of course got the big six bass set. Not always having the Big White ArtForms van, she already has had to adjust to tenor bass, but what with having no permanent home, now we are on the double/triples! [Thankfully Mrs T agreed to stand by and help find any missing notes!]

Good news is that they are recording the concert; bad news is they are recording the concert. One melody player [Millie C has already confessed!] forgot that the first section of Walking in the Air has a nine-bar phrase, and they/she played ADDCCA one bar too early every time, so that it sounded like a deliberate little echo. Sweet.

Fyi, here's a couple of pics of our two new single seconds: The chromed one cost £90 more [and looks beautiful!], but the notes show up better on the painted one. If you own your own [and only play your own] you don't need to label the notes, but it's not a crime if you do. Just makes it harder for someone else to try and play it! Note that the single second is a near circle of fifths. [That is A flat where the light has caught the painted pan].

Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows is run by Leeds ArtForms, taught by myself and Bex; the LSMA Town Hall concert is also run by Leeds ArtForms, with teachers from around Leeds schools.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

North Steel play their Christmas Concert

December 3rd, it's Christmas Concert season. First up it's Elaine and the orchestra.

Second up it's North Steel from North Leeds Music Centre. Kurum was poorly for the morning rehearsal but determined to make the evening concert. V proud. I brought 6 yr-old Niall the pink pan jumbie pan to play for the event. It's not a bad-sounding little pan, but very little use outside its key [G].  Andreas [David's father] was just trying to escape with those famous last words, "Is there anything else you need?" when I appeared swinging the van keys.

They all laughed, explained he was just trying to make good his escape, and then he collected the three extra pans we needed.

setting up earlier on
On the day we were Satinder, Sylvia, Luke, Emma, Kurum, Ella, Julia, David.

We played African Noel, In the Bleak Midwinter, and, as  homage to Leonard, Hallelujah. And, of course, we were ace!

I invited the audience to sway with arms and smart phone torches, and it was really really lovely, if not moving to see them do so.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Sparrows at Leeds West Indian Centre November 2016

As November 19th 2016 was also the date of Katie and Vic's wedding, Bex is unable to accompany the Sparrows to the West Indian Centre today. So Wanda has agreed to come with us [and actually play], and also Fehmina [whom I bribed with a lift to Katie's wedding]. It was Emma W who invited us to play at this event which is being run by Cameo. And, yay, Yi Bai is back. He got a hug, whether or not!

Because I also had a music centre class before the gig and Katie's wedding after, today takes some precise planning and some teamwork. In the morning I take over the pans and kit to Gildersome, meet Vicky and leave her to stack now and set up later. At NLMC Julia, Satinder and the gang are up for setting up and down. Next I go back to for a final load and collect Fehmina. .  .  .  .

Fehmina phones me as I pull up outside the West Indian Centre. She gets a taxi over.

This is an event to celebrate Yona Knight Wisdom's Olympic achievements. An English Jamaican, or is he a Jamaican Englishman, he won a medal for springboard diving at the Rio Olympics, and because he was, for technical reasons, unable to represent his country of residence, he dived for his country of parental origin.

We are always pleased to be asked to play at the West Indian Centre as we play West Indian instruments. Originally a pianist, I learnt guitar, then played bass guitar with various bands, made the most basic attempts at drum-kit but adopted pans as my main instrument and music and pan teaching as a career  many moons ago now. And love it! Pans is just the best. Full stop.

Players today are Ashley, Owen, Lucy, Isha, Kirsten, Claudia, Annie, Ella, Bella, with Yi Bai [ex-Sparrow anyway], Wanda [satellite Sparrows leader anyway] and Fehmina [ex-Sparrow anyway]. It was Isha, Ella and Annie's debut gig, and they were fine, playing where they could and miming where they couldn't. It was also Prince Buster's Wings of a Dove debut for us [after we abandoned it at St Paul's, for reasons to do with our reputation].

Because I also had a music centre class before the gig and Katie's wedding after, today takes some precise planning and some teamwork. In the morning I take over the pans and kit to Gildersome, meet Vicky and leave her to stack now and set up later. At NLMC Julia, Satinder and the gang are up for setting up and down. Next I go back to for a final load and collect Fehmina. .  .  .  .

Fehmina phones me as I pull up outside the West Indian Centre. She gets a taxi over.

PS Players are always welcome to join the Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows. Best to be high school age with some pan experience, or other musical instrument, or desperately keen, and promise to work hard!

Monday, 26 December 2016

Fledglings at Trinity

It's Sunday 6 November and there's a steelband playing at the Trinity Centre, and all I have to do is take photos. Yippee! Well done Wanda. This is Wanda's up and coming satellite Sparrows. The Silver Fledglings.

These players are a combo of present and ex-Oulton Primary School players, and very fine they are too.

They were collecting for St George's Crypt who support the homeless in Leeds.

To do this one hour performance for charity Wanda drives across Leeds a couple or six times to deliver pans, collect players, all that stuff, so, as we all now one hour's plating usually occupies most of a day, and the Friday before loading, and the Monday after unloading.

Always good with some good parents, and there are plenty of those. Sorry not to write more but, not being on the inside I just see the show. Yay!