What have I been up to during Lockdown? Making lots of new recordings, of course.
Time for Bed – Piano Lullabies
I absolutely loved making this recording, following the birth of my God-daughter Alexa’s baby son Harrison. I thought it might help soothe him off to sleep, and apparently it does. Piano arrangements of traditional Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes and songs I remember my mum singing to me when I was young. Guaranteed to send you to sleep, I love it!
Sondheim Ballet Class
Well who doesn’t love a bit of Sondheim?? In the long months of lockdown, with no real ballet classes to play for and with time on my hands and a recently tuned piano, I decided to record some of my favourite pieces of Stephen Sondheim songs but in my usual style…arranged with ballet class in mind. I think Mr. Sondheim’s music absolutely lends itself to dancing, and am sure it will be very popular with students of Musical Theatre who sometimes need all the help they can get to get through the torture of the daily ballet class. It takes away the pain and you can’t help but enjoy expressing his music….whilst singing along, of course. I’m still awaiting permission from Mr S himself before I can release this one. So watch this Space!
Little Ballet Dancer
So this has been an absolute JOY to work on, filling my days with so much fun and laughter. Australian Ballet Teacher, Debbie Shannon has created a brilliant new series of Online Ballet classes for the very young, ages 3-7 with a particular focus on encouraging boys to enjoy dancing, though equally suitable for girls too . Each lesson is themed with fabulous ideas such as Outer Space, The Farm, Out at Sea, Wizard Magic, Dinosaurs etc and teaches the fundamentals of ballet , flexibility, creativity, imagination and above all MUSICALITY in a very fun and engaging way. Using a Superhero cape and crown to represent strength (rather than the traditional tutus and tiaras), it is sure to delight pre-schoolers looking for some great exercise and a way to burn off excess energy. Parents and grandparents will love watching their little ones enjoying ballet too. The music is an eclectic mix of styles and composers from all over the world, featuring plenty of pieces of mine and each lesson is underscored with specially linking motifs and themed sound effects for continuity. Please check out www.littleballetdancer.com.au
to try out a free class and sign up for the series. At £2-3 per video lesson it is really excellent value. The lessons can be watched over and over (as little children like to) and the whole family can join in the fun for one small fee.
Archive Series – Beginners Please!
NEW RELEASE May 2021
Back in the 1980’s and 90’s, I was very fortunate to have a wonderful mentor Norman Higgins , who basically taught me everything I know about playing for ballet. We both played at Brooking School of Ballet in Marylebone with the inimitable teacher of the Cecchetti method, Nesta Brooking, a most wonderful musical lady who challenged us daily to create new music for her classes and shows. Norman composed a wealth of flute and piano music for the school shows and I played and recorded the flute for many of his works. We also regularly improvised piano duets for class, recording several albums of music over the years. 30 -40 years later, I have been cataloguing and remastering a lot of our improvisations and compositions and have now released the first album in the “Archive Series”, Beginners Please! an album of specific exercises devised by Nesta Brooking to accompany her pre – schoolers and young ballet beginner’s classes. The music is all original piano duet by Norman and Debbi with lots of long pieces for endless skipping, polka, galloping, running, walking etc as well as some expressive character pieces such as Tortoises , Spiders, In the Forest etc. It is music ‘of an era’ which was incredibly fun to make and I hope today’s young dancers will enjoy.
A Musical Guide to Time, Rhythm and Style for Ballet Teachers and Students
NEW CD/ DIGITAL DOWNLOAD RESOURCE – AVAILABLE NOW!!
It’s been a long while since I updated this Blog, but I’ve been out and about doing some great stuff. Lots of travelling across the other side of the world to Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and India examining music and drama has kept me very busy and happy! Then…along came COVID 19 and Lockdown which has forced me to get back in the Studio and record some more music.
After repeated requests, I have now completed what I hope will be a very useful resource for students preparing for ballet teaching exams such as the ISTD DDE, Licentiate and Fellowship in which a large part of the practical exam involves selecting and counting different styles of music and working with a live pianist to create specific enchainements. From experience of being the “live pianist” in the exam room, I know that this aspect of the exam fills many student teachers with absolute fear 😕
A Musical Guide to Time, Rhythm and Style for Ballet Teachers and Students is available as a Digital Download or CD and comes with a set of notes offering advice on how to get the best out of a live pianist and how to select and count suitable varied dance styles and rhythms such as Tango, Barcarolle, Grand Waltz , 5/4 etc .
The CD contains 30 different dance styles and rhythms with 60 tracks in all – Tracks 1-30 contain versions which are suitable for use in any level of free class, with plenty of music for continuity in the class. Tracks 31-60 feature the same melodies but with the addition of a vocal count-in to help convey accurate tempi and styles. The use of popular, well known melodies should help aid recall in the exam and take away the element of panic which often ensues under pressure.