Thursday, 11 October 2012

Ursula's Party, Russian One and the NAME conference

Now then Debs, it's the weekend and I have no gig. Ursula is having a bonfire party which starts at 7pm. I bump into Sue [see here texting by the fire] as I head over to it, also arriving at 10.30. The weather is good; the fire is hot; I sit and rabbit away about how uncritical British society gets when dealing with issues of culture and different ethnicities. . . . as you do . .

On Monday evening I go to my first Russian lesson since leaving University. It's residents' parking only round Beckett Park, so I take to my bike.  And I would have been on time if the lesson had been in the Languages building . . .

I am struck by how many people in Leeds can "do" Russian to this level. When I was at Uni the numbers on my degree course were in single figures.  However, what a relief. I thought it was going to be just me and the teacher. She asked us what levels we were at. Levels! Debs, I have spent years avoiding levels. Anyway who knows. I have great grammar, limited vocab and no collquialisms. I live in hope of upping the latter two.

On Tuesday morning I go to my first beginners Spanish lesson. I am sure, and even opine to the rest of the class that you don't get confused with other languages and then I spend some time in Italian. I have promised myself and my teachers that I will spend 20 minutes a day on each language.

Diane and I go to Yarnfield Park on Thursday evening, getting in the night before of the NAME [National Association of Music Educators] conference. The conference highlights for me were 1. a piece of research about adolescent boys' reluctance to take part in organised singing 2. winning two consecutive games of pool [against Toby and Govind, two people I had not met before] and 3. meeting up with Tony Haynes from Grand Union, with whom I worked in Leeds on two occasions - Dr Carnival at Leeds Town Hall and then On Liberation Street at West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Tony has spent, even dedicated his musical life to discovering, nurturing and promoting authentic ethnic music playing and performance- at least the part that I am aware of. And when he brought Dr Carnival to Leeds and we met for the first time, he was allocated the Sparrows led by myself, someone whom a colleague, and member of own department once famously described as "not even a musician".

And Tony and I had some robust arguments about music and teaching when we first, but he paid me the honour of arguing on equal terms. This is often sadly lacking in this day and age. And he put the Sparrows and myself on the map, at a time when my life experience was of being "not even a musician".  And despite having already taught the Hallelujah Chorus for Carnival Messiah.

So, apart from massive respect for Grand Union I have always been grateful to Tony for just being himself, and letting me be mine.

I offered Diane to give Tony a lift to Stafford Station. Here's some pics in station cafe. Diane and I had a lovely Chinese meal in the Green Tea Cafe in Manchester; then back to Leeds perchance to sleep.

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