Weddings, Circles and Psalms

Coming back from a big family wedding is always a tiring affair, and not just for me. The girls are all wiped out, even though we made sure they had an early night last night. Weddings in the middle of a school term are tricky to negotiate, although the proof will be in the school run at the end of the day!

Anyway, the baby is asleep, and I have done my homework for the afternoon (5 days until the theory exam…!) so I thought I would jot down some thoughts.
I started writing music almost exactly 3 years ago with my friend. We both had some time on our hands, and as we play in the same church music group, thought we would write some music to play with the band. On Sunday, the three year liturgical cycle came back to the very first psalm we wrote together! I wasn’t there for its second outing (see above re: wedding!) But it has made me realise how far I have come (and so has my friend) in the last 3 years. A change of career, but even more so, a real change in how I/we write music (both separately and together), even to the point that much more of it now gets written out properly on a computer, rather than rough sketches outlined on manuscript paper with no words…! All hail technology!

Which bring me to the latest news regarding projects. I now have permission from the copyright holder to publish a book of psalms. Just need to get on with the proofreading now! Well, not right now. Next week will have to do. After the exam…!!!


Reaping and Sowing

Every now and then, a seed of a germ of an idea comes to fruition. There are exciting times on the way from a musical perspective…
I have a friend who plays in an orchestra in Seattle (I think she may also work for them), who suggested that I write some music for a cello choir (the cello section of the orchestra is called a choir when it practises and performs on its own, it would seem!), so I arranged my Ave Verum for 4 celli, and so far it seems to have gone down well. My friend said that they will rehearse it properly over the summer, and maybe even record it for me!
And I have been asked by friends to publish some music they have written, two things so far… So all the paperwork that is needed now needs to be completed.
In the meantime, I continue to gather some private pupils and this very morning had a phone call asking me to come and do some regular work in another local school… this was a school I wrote to back in September (hence the title of this post!)

As if all this wasn’t enough, I have also now entered myself for the Grade 8 Music Theory exam – just over a month to go now!
And of course, the children are continuing to grow, learn and generally amaze me with their enthusiasm, their own musicality, and (in the case of the 2 year old) their ability to string sentences together!!
This being a daddy lark is ace!!

New things and CDs…

So. One of the interesting things about the program I use to write music is that it can convert what you’ve written to WAV sound files. This is very exciting because it means that, when I am happy with the piece of music I’ve written, I can convert it to a sound file and pop it onto a CD and then I have another product to sell…!

Once I get round to sorting out the website. Which I will.

In the meantime, I have bought all the kit to print CD labels. I have even made the prototype, with a blank CD and a first draft of a label…! The best thing about being able to do this is that I can sell the CD as a learning tool, or an accompaniment for places with no musicians, and as there will be no words involved, I am the only copyright holder. Which means there are no hoops to jump through and no permissions to be sought.

There are so many distractions though – ideas for new pieces: making sure everyone has a meal at teatime, finding time to do music theory homework, plus planning music lessons for schools and fitting in guitar (and now keyboard) pupils… Life is busy, full, exciting, enjoyable and, frankly, exhausting…!

But who would honestly have it any other way…?

Now, if you will excuse me, I think I need to get on with one of my (ever increasing) projects…

Decisions, decisions…

My budding career as a publisher has come to a decision-making juncture – whether to go the whole hog and invest in a full website that can upload sound files (which could be handy to give people an idea of what my music actually sounds like) and can also provide e-commerce (something very useful if trying to sell one’s published material!)

I know.

In many ways, I am a traditionalist when it comes to music. I much prefer looking at piece of written music and working out how it should go all by myself. I suspect much of the rest of the world prefers a shortcut or two, and being able to let people hear what I’ve written before they buy may well be a sound business idea, almost essential if this is to work effectively and be a means of at least supplementing my income. It is an outlay, however, and while there is money set aside, it needs a bit of careful consideration.

I suppose the decision comes down to this – am I serious about trying to make it work? If I am, it seems obvious that trying to get as much coverage and material available to as wide an audience as possible is not only desirable but essential.

I would welcome any thoughts…!


What is it about half term holidays that brings the tantrums out of my children…? I guess it’s having to spend all the time in each other’s company. And maybe they miss school and the routine a little bit…?

Anyway, once the afternoon tantrum was out of the way, we all piled into the car and wandered over the Pennines to Halifax and Eureka, the museum for children of all ages. Daughter number 3 loved it, as there were so many buttons to press at just the right height! Daughters 2 and 1 also had a blast, especially when they were pretending to be doctors or dancing in the sound room, and the consensus was that we would be returning soon!

And now, whilst keeping an eye on an orange that is currently boiling in the kitchen in readiness for cake baking tomorrow, I am researching song lyrics for an upcoming band gig – yes, we’re putting the band back together! Although the football on the t.v. is proving a little distracting! All hail the half term holiday!

Music to order

I wrote a psalm last year for use within the Anglican tradition, as a favour to an old friend as a Christmas present for his mother. The same friend has now returned and asked me to write something else, again for use within an Anglican service – never let it be said that I am not flexible and able to come up with the goods! And this time, maybe charge a small composer’s fee…!

So, I am going to write a setting of the “Veni Sancti Spiritus” for my friend’s friend, who is on the road to vicarship. And I am looking forward to setting such an ancient prayer.

In other news – daughters numbers one and two are now on half term holiday (and so is their mother, rather wonderfully!). Today the older two have been to two birthday parties (poor youngest only went to one, although she did get a party bag from each party!!) A week of fun beckons, including swimming lessons and a trip to Eureka! near Halifax. Not sure who’s going to have the best time, them or me! There’s the obligatory holiday shoe size check that needs to happen, and in and around all that there are plans for me to teach guitar and keyboard lessons and host “band dinner” (with a possible band practice a couple of hours before dinner – as my wife suggested, the band will be singing for their supper!). So, busy busy busy!

All of which doesn’t leave much time for writing. I have, however, got the keyboard version for my Mass setting completed and have a couple of places lined up to road test it for me! More information about when it is available will be broadcast nearer the time!

Now, I suppose I should read a bit more of my homework book – the ABRSM guide to music theory…!

Published Composer!

All the necessary approvals and copyright permissions have been given, and my Mass setting has now been published! By which I mean, I have had delivery of paper, card, plastic covers, a long armed stapler (ahem!) and comb binders in order to print and then distribute copies!

And, even more exciting, within 48 hours of announcing publication on Facebook, I had my first confirmed order which has not only been dispatched but delivered!

It feels amazing to be able to say I am a published composer (even if I have published it myself!) It’s been a journey, an odyssey if you will, of discovery about processes, labyrinthine procedures and the joys of proofreading! But now I am well equipped to do it all over again when the keyboard version needs to go through the same process! And I hope that this won’t take too long – I’ve finished writing it and am hoping to road test it soon in a nearby parish.

And even more exciting, I have also published my setting of the Ave Verum Corpus – my first customer also bought some copies of this as well as the mass setting, so I am doubly published!

Now, all I need to do is get on the marketing and publicising trail and my first million will be just around the corner…!!!

And so the projects keep mushrooming – my family challenged me to write a new tune to a traditional carol that they decided they didn’t like, in time for Christmas just gone. I accepted the challenge, and completed it in time to have a family singsong on Christmas Day. Unfortunately, booze and all the rest of the Christmas Day rituals meant that it didn’t get sung until second Christmas with the in-laws. So, after letting my music theory teacher have a look, I now have the idea of re-writing a number of traditional carols, maybe in time for next Yuletide…

An old friend of mine has moved to Seattle. She works for Seattle’s orchestra and suggested I write something for their cello choir.

Still looking at trying to publish a set of psalms…

The list of things to do doesn’t get any shorter!

In other news, proud daddy moments happen all the time. Daughter number 3 has just turned 2. And has started copying her sisters in singing “that” song from Frozen…
Daughter number 2 had her class assembly on Friday and read so clearly and competently. She even helped one of her classmates who was not so confident, but without taking over.
And daughter number 1 seems to have almost completed her first short story, complete with illustrations. Maybe she needs a publisher…!