Post archive

Planning ahead

One of the hardest parts of running 3 choirs, a drum group and all the other things I do, is the planning ahead and making sure all the right information goes to the right people at the right time. It's remarkably hard to get venues/external organisers to understand that I need to know details months ahead of time so that concerts and performances can go ahead smoothly! 

This term's performances:
11th November  HHS  All Saints Church Huntingdon "JOYFUL JOYFUL" a short afternoon concert to celebrate 100 years since the end of WWI
1st December HHS CHS HYS Free Church St Ives - kicking off the Christmas season with a festive offering
8th December CHS HYS Oakington Garden Centre - Christmas numbers with a lovely woodwind group
9th December HHS Paxton Pits Nature Reserve (private event for the Nature Reserve people!)

June 2018 - a long overdue update!

It's been quite some time since I used the blog, but I'm reinstating it so you can see what is new with Harmonia!

Summer is always busy with workshops and I've done 3 in the last few weeks - a lovely mini-festival samba workshop near Saffron Walden, a djembe workshop with 3 youth choirs in Bishops Stortford, and a whole day of workshops in a primary near Cambridge. All great fun with some enthusiastic children (and adults) and lots of positive feedback. Another 4 or 5 workshops are booked in before the end of July. 
Tomorrow is Harmonia's first appearances at Fete de la Musique in Saffron Walden. The Coton Harmonia Singers, Harmonia African Drummers and Harmonia Youth Singers will all be making an appearance, and we're all really looking forward to it. Great to see over 80 performances taking place for free around the town, and impressive organisation by the committee! 
The other news is that Harmonia headquarters is moving from Godmanchester to Bar Hill, hopefully by the beginning of August. There'll be a new home music studio and hope that we'll attract new private pupils from Cambridge as well as surrounding villages. Adult pupils particularly welcomed - I have four at the moment and it's great to see grown-ups getting to grips with their new instruments.  


Just had a fabulous 4 days working with the Cambridge Holiday Orchestra Association. I ran 3 hour long workshops each day - 2 x KS2 belleplates and 1x age 11+ djembe drumming, followed by concert performances on the last day. Brilliant time, and great children to work with. Lovely to see so many keen young and not so young musicians. Great organisation by the committee and quality parent helpers made it easy to get on with the music. Bumped into a few ex pupils (Haslingfield, Coton and Harmonia) which was lovely. Also enjoyed playing belleplates briefly with the staff.

Music For Youth Festival - 2010 - St Ives

A great day's music making with Harmonia and Spaldwick School.

Djembes, 2 choirs, sax sextet and band all received brilliantly positive feedback from the adjudicators (Sarah Watts, Robert Galliard). Wonderful support from parents and families and lots of great comments from other audience members.

Audience member "how do you get your little ones to sing so loudly?"

me "it's more a case of trying to stop them!"

Music alone shall live! October 2009

Well since September I have managed to organise a purely music working week. Having enjoyed teaching year 5 on Mondays for the last couple of years, I am now back to concentrating on my main interest.

Current timetable:

Monday - Youth Singers

Tuesday - Woodwind lessons, Wider Opportunities, Spaldwick Band

Wednesday - PPA music curriculum lessons, Spaldwick Young Singers

Thursday - Woodwind lessons, Music assembly, Composers' Club, Adult Drumming, Spaldwick Singers

This is also supplemented by Mentoring on the OU/Trinity Guildhall course, Leading Music Teacher commitments, and bassoon teaching.

I've just got a new/old bassoon thanks to the lovely Tim Sutton and am loving playing again.

Recent highlights:

Cambridgeshire Singing Day - stunning performance by Youth Singers after just 3 rehearsals!

VOCE8 singing day - inspiring course with bags of energy and humour 

So what now?

      Since handing in my notice at Haslingfield School I have been looking for more teaching work and am pleased to say I have been asked to work for CIMA (the County Music Agency), where I will be teaching everything from ocarinas to keyboards, Foundation Stage to Year 6. I will also be continuing to teach classroom music at Spaldwick School near Grafham Water (foundation stage to year 6), and at Coton School where I currently teach year 3-6. I have been made to feel very welcome and am enjoying being part of a happy team at both schools. The support of the headteachers in particular (3 of them since there are 2 at Coton) has been particularly reassuring and both schools are very keen to promote music making both within the curriculum and through wider opportunities. I will be continuing to run the Youth Singers at Haslingfield, Coton and Spaldwick, and also intend to make time for the Harmonia Singers (adults) who are such fun to sing with.

    There are vague plans for CABARET II (the revenge) ... possibly in September (one of the middle weekends), but no firm dates yet. It will definitely be a more interactive evening with a combination of quiz and entertainment. If you'd like to help with the refreshments side of things then we'd be thrilled to hear from you! We may run a bar this time.

    Other big news is that I shall be moving to Cambourne in July (rather unwisely, perhaps, on the day after term finishes). I've got a "luxury penthouse apartment" overlooking Lake Lambert (though I notice on the survey plans it is refered to as a pond). House-warming/birthday party to be held on September 2nd!


End of an Era :o(

As many Harmonia families will know by now, as from September I will no longer be teaching at Haslingfield School. I'm very sad to be leaving and it was disappointing to have to take that decision. I hope to be continuing music making within the village but will greatly miss the teaching staff and support staff who have been so wonderful, the fabulous pupils who made classroom music lessons so rewarding and the parents who have always supported me and appreciated the high standards we have reached. Many thanks to everyone who made my time at the school so enjoyable.

The Youth Singers, Young Singers and Harmonia Singers (adults) will hopefully all continue to run and I hope to see all the groups thrive and uphold the strong tradition of musical activities in the village.

The Empire Extends!

We now have 3 branches of Harmonia Youth Singers - Haslingfield, Coton and Spaldwick. At the moment Spaldwick is being run as a school choir, but I hope that from next term it will take on the same format as the other two. Coton has got off to a flying start with 16 very enthusiastic members who are already singing in three parts. We hope to do our first joint concerts in the Autumn. New choirs mean I'm thinking about a new uniform - perhaps with a different colour for each branch. It's wonderful to see young people singing so well in three different villages.

The future of music- funny vids

If you have any doubts about the future of music - follow these links!

(warning - not to be watched whilst eating or drinking due to likely mess)

Mad Trombonist

A new horn concerto?


Linton Bookfest

Spent yesterday at Linton Infants working with year 1 and 2 children on music to go with poems by John Foster. Despite my hacking cough and croaky voice we managed to get through everything just in time! Have put it together as both a CD and a DVD with simple pictures for each stanza. The DVD wasn't the original plan but it works really well and I think the children will really like it - at least I hope they do!

how many f's in Ofsted?

An interesting day doing boomwhackers at a school in Huntingdon, made more interesting by the presence of some ofsted inspectors. They stayed for a session and a half and then returned for the sharing assembly. This either means they were fascinated by the boomwhackers, were impressed with the workshops or were just victimising me. I'm hoping for one of the first two options. The children were great and I felt very welcomed by the staff in what must have been quite a trying week for them. Good to see friendly and enthusiastic teachers!

published! At last!

My latest offering into the BBC news magazine site was not only finally accepted but was the top letter of the day which surely means it was the best one. I'm so proud. It wasn't even that funny but I think I flattered the Magazine Monitor enough to be admitted into the inner sanctum of contributors. Incidentally the number of letters from Cambridge is totally disproportionate - maybe we should all get out more.

cross words about crosswords

I can't tell you how frustrating it was trying to get a crossword on the Youth Singers Club page! Anyway I finally succeeded and I know at least 3 people have bothered to complete it. 2 members of the choir have downloaded the programme and are going to write their own so I look forward to trying to get one of their creations on the site. The password for the club page is a big success on it's own! I've been told it's "the coolest password ever".. perhaps it'll be featured on one of those ghastly channel 4 top 100 programmes.

I'm really pleased with the helpful advice and comments I've had from friends and family, particularly regarding child protection issues etc. What stunningly responsible people I know! My list of things for the site is growing not shrinking and I'm guilty of keeping moving any kind of biog details to the bottom of the heap. I must get round to it one day.

making the website

Well it's taken me nearly all day but I feel like I've made a good start. There's lots more to come: I want to publish my belleplate arrangements (I have about 40), put on pictures going back over the last 7 years since Harmonia was founded, make a links page to some of the fantastic music sites I've discovered, work out how I put on my crossword programme.. there IS a way I'm sure, and obviously come up with some way of making my fortune and hastening my retirement.

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