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Towards Harmony: 24 days to go / 8 June 2015

Takashi, Lloyd, Abi and her guide dog Bliss!

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Book your tickets for Colston Hall on July 3 HERE

So while the loud and proud celebrations at BBC Music Day have somewhat dominated things before the weekend, somewhere in the background I've kept up with my visits to various Paraorchestra members around the country.

Firstly, there was Gemma Lunt, our extraordinary saxophone player, who I will be featuring in my last video blog later this month. She studied at the Trinity College of Music in Greenwich, where she now lives, and can make a stonking sound on any saxophone. But my particular favourite is the soprano, and so I've asked her to play on that instrument for the duration of the piece. As we ran through her part, we discussed things that orchestral players frequently encounter, such as tuning, ensemble and tone. We both remarked it was so nice to be able to delve into these areas perhaps more than we've ever had chance to before in the context of the Paraorchestra, as one of the disadvantages to playing improvised music is that you are often concerned with form and process - basically, what do I play next?! But now I've provided a framework for the piece, form and structure should become less of a concern for everyone and we can focus on the nitty gritty things to do with producing sounds on a musical instrument. 

My next visit was to Matthew Wadsworth - definitely one of the leading lutenists of his generation, and an extraordinarily sensitive musician. In his spare time, Matt has enjoyed one or two daring challenges, as you will see from the video below (warning: not for the faint-hearted!)

Then on Saturday, I saw Abi and Takashi, our wonderful string players. I was quite exhilarated to see that Takashi has already learnt most of his part, and is already onto exploring interpretive questions. Abi is certainly not far behind, but asked for a mock-up of the piece with only her part in it.

You may wonder how some of our visually impaired musicians learn the music - well, it's different for every player of course, but most musicians with little sight rely on braille music, learning by ear or a combination of the two.

When Abi listened to the mock-up of the entire piece, she found it hard to hear her own part, and when I listened through to it again, I could perfectly see why. The solo string parts do tend to get lost in the mix on such a demo, so I have now provided her with a version that has her part isolated, which should make learning the notes much easier. 

Tomorrow, I have THREE musicians in one day to visit in the Cambridgeshire area, so I'm going to go get some shut eye now and I will report back tomorrow evening (if I've any energy left!)