Monday, 23 July 2012

The Sun's Shining on my Blog!

The problem with being busy is that I've not had time to update the blog, and now there's so much to write I don't know where to start!  I'll try and give you a little flavour of all that's been happening the past 3 months ...

Juliya  (formerly Jujumaa)

Work with the piano, Jude and the Kora continues to develop, and we went down well at Hosenbury Festival.  We've changed our name to Juliya, as there is another group in the world music field with "Juju" in the title, and we decided that might be just too confusing.  Juliya originates from "Jaliya", a word for all cultural tools (like singing, music, storytelling etc) which we've adapted to include the Ju of Jude and Julie :)  Not just pretty faces, as my dad would have said :)

The Sileby Slappers

What a great summer we've had, despite the inclement weather, managing to avoid playing in the rain, and mostly the mud too!  We wowed the crowds at Loughborough's Picnic in the Park during the Diamond Jubilee week celebrations; we were part of a lovely charity fundraising afternoon with cream teas and other musicians, organised by Christine Coole and hosted by some elderly folks in Cosby; Paula McKillop invited us to play at Oakfest and joined us onstage to play for a very appreciative crowd in the grounds of Oakham Castle, and we rocked at Hosenbury Festival, where we're already booked for next year!   We're looking forward to working on some new pieces in the coming months.

Julie Wright, Phil Riley and Backwater

We've played a few gigs these last few months, particularly enjoying a return to the Criterion in Leicester, and slots at festivals in Seagrave and Tilton on the Hill.  Our next venture is in the recording studio with the piano - very exciting for me!  There are gigs coming in for later in the year, and I'll let you have the dates in due course.  Meanwhile, you can catch Backwater at The Boathouse in Barrow upon Soar on Sunday afternoons 29 July, and 5 and 26 August.  A really enjoyable venue right by the edge of the canal (or is it a the river?  I'm never sure!)  Always a good atmosphere, and they do good food too!


Well, where haven't I been this term!  Special Needs at Birchwood in Melton Mowbray, Key Stage 1 in London, Key Stage 2 in Huntingdon, Key Stage 3 in Retford and Ibstock, Key Stage 4 in Leicester and Teacher Training at Northampton University - I'm nothing if not versatile!

My regular students at Highcliffe Primary in Birstall and Glenfield Primary all did fabulous end of term performances, and the Year 6s are hoping to continue lessons at their respective high schools from September.  I also played percussion at the end of term concert with Highcliffe school choir and two other community choirs led by the wonderful Carolyn Necklen, who retired from her post at the school this year, but she will be continuing her freelance work in the county.

Eastfield School bought 16 djembes and invited me in to run several sessions with KS2 pupils.  Year 6 performed their pieces to the rest of the school, and by the end of the afternoon the whole school were singing and playing rhythms together in the hall.  Yet another example of how music can bring people together and make positive and uplifting vibes within the school and other communities.

Rothley Primary School PTFA paid for me to work with all the children, and then half of years 5 and 6 chose to have extra sessions and perform at the School Fete.  I made an executive decision to squash us into the school hall, as the clouds didn't look too promising, but we went down a storm (see what I did there?) and are hoping to continue drumming at the school in September.  Soar Valley Music (whose amazing percussion warehouse is in Rothley) and I then went back into school in the last week of term, using some of SVM's traditional West African and Samba instruments - let's see if I can upload a couple of pictures from this 3 way partnership ...

It was a great afternoon. The Year 6 teacher said it was just brilliant to see the children having fun after all those exams and tests and the pressure that has become the way of life for children in primary schools.  It's such a shame the powers-that-be don't seem to realise that productive learning isn't always about the 3 Rs, and that the arts can enrich the lives of children and adults alike!

What's Coming Up?

Well, rehearsals with Jude, Phil, Backwater and The Slappers continue, interspersed with a few summer workshops and gigs, but also some free time to spend in the garden, peacefully enjoying the sunshine and my gorgeous dog, Gemma, who is sadly suffering with cancer, and we're now on borrowed time ...

... no, this isn't my garden, just my dog!