The differences between a Conservatoire of Music and a University + What it’s like to be in the final year!

Ay ay ay!

It’s that time of year again. Naturally everybody will be on high alert with stress levels running at an all time high. Taking a moment to take a step back and see this is quite daunting, how we let ourselves get into a state of mind. On the contrary, it’s rather stress relieving to be able to step back.

That’s why…

In the final 16 weeks I’ll spend, as well as planning to study around the world, I want to take some time out on a meditation course. Having used Headspace for 2 or 3 years now, and incorporating 30-60 mins everyday it’s really time to take the step up.

As a final year student, it’s vital to have a plan even if it’s not a ‘set-in-stone’ plan. You have a base from which you can work from. I began this style of organisation at the beginning of last summer, that allowed me to have all four of my exams in the New Year to be prepped to their maximum.

Two exams done, another one soon to be completed and I’ve felt only the stress required to help in my performance.

Nice.

Some time off too? I think I can fit that in…

Essentially not only does this style apply to students, it applies to everybody. If you can plan all deadlines in the space of 4 hours a week in less than a month for the next 3-6 months, you’re not only saving time but you also allow free time!

In a conservatoire of music you see the same people in and out. Due to the audition process, there is only a selected number each year so everybody is a familiar face. Naturally, in an intense, high level working environment, where learning pieces in a week, on the spot with forever changing irregular hours with the same people day in day out is normality.

In comparison, university is far from different. Generically speaking, not only are the hours less and consistent – you also are surrounded by over 10,000 students in a single block on flats. We only have an approximated 1000 in the whole of RWCMD!! The events are also very different, our SU is probably about the length of 30-36ft long and holds a regular quiz, live music and a few social clubs. On the upside, we have a plethora of gigs, drama productions we can choose from that are either free or discounted. To be honest, the more tame social scene is really nice.

However, you can’t beat a huge two level SU where the events are party crazy and so much fun! On top of that you have a huge range of socials to choose from and the bar is of course cheaper with so many students. As far as I know and have experienced, that’s all there is to say about that really!

And afterwards?

Well us musicians will either and most likely will freelance and teach. Or for those who don’t have that intention, other career options could be and Events Manager, Radio Producer, Music Therapy, Technician, composing for Film/TV etc etc etc. Some will deter from music in search for a more stable lifestyle i.e. regular income, working hours.

Post university? All I know is that most will look for a job, most will get a job (more likely if you’re on a Graduate Scheme) One this is for certain and something all students have in common….

We simply have no clue! 😀

Annnnd on that bombshell I’m outta here!

Thanks for reading guys and don’t forget to share 🙂

#BlogNo.19

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The National Waterfall Site – El Nicho
The differences between a Conservatoire of Music and a University + What it’s like to be in the final year!

A story about Cuba

Hey!

I’ve been away from Cuba for 2 weeks now and all I want to do is go back. So to fuel that, here is what I did on my trip! I can’t give details of patterns etc. as it was all very new to me too, therefore, some sit-down and transcribe time is needed.

Being in my final year with exams literally around the corner, means that for now, I’ll have to postpone until I’ve got some chill time.

So, my first stop was in Centro Habana. Throughout the whole trip, we were learning about Afro-Cuban Folkoric Music i.e. traditional rumba such as Guiro, Bata rumba, columbia, guaguancó etc.

Here we learnt songs for a cajon ceremony, in order to learn these lyrics, you need to get them from somebody who understands the language. Sounds silly, but the words aren’t pure Spanish – due to the slave trade and the migration of African slaves, songs/language were the beginnings of influencing one another and thus people took parts of other languages that meant something in relation to the religion.

We also learned Guiro. Another fascinating rumba, the pure essence of drive and passion is immense. The main drivers (in my opinion) other than the Clavé, I get a real buzz from the Shekere and the hoe blade. The sharpness of these instruments locks everybody in, allowing others on, for example the conga drums, especially the Tumba (main solo instrument).

From here we travelled to Matanzas – a completely different vibe from Havana. Definitely less crazy (a little bit of craziness) and with that a notable difference in sound. The music of Havana is fast paced – Matanzas is more relaxed allowing space to here the melodies between the drums. We did Rumba Columbia <– can you hear the music?!

Then Cienfuegos – where we based as we went to Trinidad and Palmira. Trinidad is a B-E-A-UTIFUL place. As the group would say ‘Tranquillo!’ 😀 Trindad is pure Cuban music, with no outside influences. This is because they wanted to keep the music theirs, a part of the heritage and music they’ve developed. The drums used, were very similar to that of congas (see photo below) and the music sounds very different indeed! Likewise, Palmira also used different drums and there was no holding back. The main drum used as a message, could be heard up to 1 mile away and we could definitely hear that in a relatively small room!!

Finally, Havana. Last stop of classes, learning about Rumba Fransisco (again completely new) and all I have to say is it was a great way to end. All of the above can all be researched (be careful of the resources, there is lots of it and therefore it can get confusing)

The best way to learn, it to go to the country, go on a course in the country or where you’re based. Feel free to contact me if you’d want to know where you can get inside the world of Cuba!

Learning all of these new forms of rumba was an amazing experience. Now with enough contacts, I will be going back again and again and again. But first, it’s time to explore the next stop in the 1-2 year working ‘year out’ i.e. building a name for myself and travelling to Brazil, Africa (Senegal/Dakar) and India.

Next week, I’ll talk about the differences between a Conservatoire and University and what it’s like to be in the final year/prospect of leaving as a self-employed musician! Enjoy the photos! Hope you have enjoyed and gained some insight into my world.

#BlogNo. 18

A story about Cuba

What’s been going on?!

I’ve been away for a 2 weeks exactly and it certainly doesn’t feel like it! It’s really flown by and I unintentionally missed last weeks’ weekly Sunday Blog as I’ve been super busy (except the week where I took a Break)

So what have I been up to? 

Looks like I could only hack one week after college finished…and I was back in the ‘diff trialling a street performance version of Viktor Ullmans’ Opera – Der Kaiser von Atlantis with freelance Opera Director Polly Graham; check out some photos here.

Before all that happened I recorded pre-recorded loops for a piece I doing next year in my recital (I’ll allow a preview of what’s in store 😀  –>Leap)

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Recording pre-recorded loops

Back to the Opera – I’m not an Opera fanatic I’ll be honest, but when it’s quirky and contemporary, as well as it being intense…that’s my jam guys! Only 2.5 hours of essentially relearning a condensed Opera (originally 1.5 hours…this was 30 minutes!!!) This was so that people would stay to watch and also we had to travel from Penarth Pier to Grangetown Pavillion Winter Fare then Delikatesy Mis (Polish Café in Cardiff) It was thoroughly enjoyable and I hope for this project to develop further!

From then onwards I have been attending jam sessions in Bristol, playing and watching world class musicians in the local area to me, Frome! It’s amazing who is around you – go to some local gigs in your area, get talking and see who’s around. You never know if you’ll be watching somebody who plays in a famous group! 

Also, it’s been busy because I’ve been working hard. Mainly prepping my ideas for the New Year so I can deploy them at the most convenient time. For now I’m mostly practising, listening, researching and most of all. Learning. Investing in instruments (PSYCHED) and prepping for CUBA once again. I will be leaving very early in the New Year and will be away for 2 weeks, learning about Western Cuba/folkloric music and rumba! I can’t wait!

That’s all for today guys! Here is an album I recently listened to and fell in love with!

HAPPY LISTENING     MORE HAPPY LISTENING    LAST BIT OF VERY HAPPY LISTENING

Have a very Merry Christmas!

 

H

 

#BlogNo. 15

What’s been going on?!

Break

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The sumer gear collection…more latin gear has been added since 😀

The last week at the RWCMD came to a close on Friday! Now I’m back in my hometown of Bath and safe to say, my body has shut down. So I’m taking a break from playing for a little bit, so I can rejuvenate my mind and body.

Because of this, and also as a heads up, I may not be blogging next Sunday!

It’s important to take time off and I’m certainly one that can keep powering through no matter what, perhaps I’m stubborn but I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t been.

Listen to your gut more and your mind less.

It’s harder to be aware of this during the day than you think. 

Next week I’m back in Cardiff for rehearsals at the Welsh Millennium Centre (WMC) in the Cardiff Bay. I bumped into the Operatic Director for an independent/contemporary Opera I did over a year ago and now I’m playing in her test run of her own company. Even though Opera isn’t my thing per se, but when there is room for creative direction then who knows where it could lead to! This is something I’m really excited about.

Over the next few weeks, as well as spending time with family and friends, I’ll be working hard on my own ideas and planning ahead for the next two and final terms at the Royal Welsh. Just so that I can really enjoy my time in Cuba and not think about missing two weeks of college! There will be lots of photos and experiences shared come early New Year!

That’s all for today guys! Take some time out for yourselves too!

Songs of the week

Here are two songs that I hope will set you up for the week no matter what you’re doing!

Some cheeky Bileo – You can Win – this is from the early 80s and it’s a massive soul song!

Roy Davis Jr ft Peven Everett – Gabriel (Live Garage Version) – the sound of human nature and original music is a beauty when you mix it with electronics

Rest Hard, Work Harder.

#BlogNo. 14

Break

For Time To Come

Hey one and all!

A lot of my posts are mostly motivational or how I am feeling about what has happened in the week prior. Reflection is great, not only we can learn from our mistakes, but we can learn from what we did well.

A lot of musicians, tend to not think of themselves as a business. It takes a lot of time and dedication to get to where you want to be, no matter how many steps you will want to, and have to take.

I always have a practise diary. Every evening and every Sunday, I plan ahead of what I will want to achieve in the week ahead and the month. This way, you’re consistently reflecting and adapting to unforeseen challenges. I find this method I worked out, helps to build a stronger base for the larger picture. That being, building connections in an already familiar environment, to begin establishing who you are and what you can offer. Then, where you base yourself is mostly dependent on where the work is.

When it comes to monthly or yearly planning, it can be hard to tell how much of what you plan will come to effect. It’s a good idea, I think, to take advantage of all the opportunities on offer, with the long term purpose in mind. For me personally, I go to Jazz Jam sessions, with the purpose of improving my ear and playing, but also to expand my relations with new and existing connections. Existing connections, I’d say, are vital because it takes time to build strong relationships with people.

I go by this formulae

Plan

Expand

Apply 

Base

Let me explain ;

  1. Plan/Replan – This is essentially writing down what your ideas, goals and dreams and prioritising them in order of short to long term achievements. (I’ll get to replan in a minute)
  2. Expand – This is looking at each goal and expanding it to the opportunities that are available to you. The opportunities available is not only what is easily accessible, but they are also events that are in the present and future that may arise. You have to be on alert for this one, in order to make the most of anything. 
  3. Apply – #JustDoIt and be proactive. You will have to get out there, show up, make yourself known.
  4. Base – You must be aware when you are beginning to develop a base, from where you can start to replan. This means, when you have got a platform to work from i.e. regular income, base of connections, where you are based geographically, social profile etc. Then you can begin the process again. A never ending work frame.

It doesn’t matter how small the base is, as long as there is something to work from, you can start to replan and the replan could be very small e.g. Making a connection, in person and online, going to an event where the connection is and promoting yourself whilst learning and developing your skills on a practical level.

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THE NEXT STEP – I will be performing a piece that requires a loop pedal (see image) in May 2018. It’s time to get practical and explore electronics.

That’s all guys!

Thanks for taking some time out to read my Blog!

Albums of the week

Donny Mcaslin – Fast Future (Full Album) 2015 – Contemporary Jazz! Explore the personnel on this album!

Irakere (Cuba, 1979) – Live (Full Album) – Recognised as one of the first groups to establish Timba! This a Cuban dance and has influnces of Salsa, American funk/RnB and strong Afro-Cuban Folkloric music. Here is a taste of Salsa and Afro-Cuban Folkloric music – listen carefully and hear the similarities!

Thanks again everyone! 

#BlogNo. 10

For Time To Come

Goals, Ambition, Drive.

Expect the unexpected

Recently, I’ve been visualising my dreams. Not intentionally, but out of pure self-driven ambition. With hard work, I know I’ll be able to make those dreams into reality. Usually, it’s not healthy to imagine what could be, because we truly don’t know what’s around the corner. That’s what makes being a freelance musician so exciting though.

Where do I want to be and who?!

Currently, I’m striving not only to be the best I can be at drumming and world percussion; but also striving to project my ideas and concepts into an educational book as well as teaching! I think it’s so important to pass on ideas to those learning, which is anybody really!! This will take time, but that doesn’t matter. I’m here for the long run. 

This past week has been a week of feel good. I’m on top of my projects for college, this goes from arranging and composing to preparing my pieces for the final final recital! As well as projects that will put me in the best position possible, before I leave and thereafter. As well as feeling good; this week has been a realisation, not for me per se, but for others around me, now I can see what is ahead of me more clearly. In a music specialist conservatoire of music, it’s expected that we hone in on our craft on a daily basis. It’s not just about that though, in such a specialist place, it’s easy to forget that there is the world surrounding you.

Goal 1

Learn as many tunes as possible. Everyday, I will learn at least one song, know the chords, form and melody. Practising for amazing technique is one thing, but that’s not going to help you when you don’t know a tune/song in a live situation. I had a jam session on Monday and……yeah…..I need to know my forms. It felt like just about everything that could go wrong, did. If I’d known the tune, I probably would have been in better stead. Not only is this my new goal for jazz, but for world music, primarily Cuban as the music spreads throughout Spain, Africa, South America, so there is a lot of music language to cover!

Goal 2

Hone in on Jazz vibes. I have this urge, hunger to really delve into jazz harmony, primarily. Now I’ve come to the stage where I now need to master typical chord progressions, change from one chord/scale to another bar by bar, beat by beat etc as well as chord voicing and applying what I know already to jazz standards. That may sound a lot, but from the skills I’ve developed already, I know this is just a few little steps with a few bigger steps i.e. short and long-term goals.

Goal 3

Project my ideas to the world. I’ve touched on this briefly already. It’s fair to say that nobody what anybody else thinks, I will be perfecting my concepts, ready to put out there. It’s time now to, put it all into order and ask those who I know will be able to help me in one way or another.

Song of the week

I wanted to have only one song this week. This is sooooo groovy! This is a Cuban dance known as Chachacha – Enjoy!!

Orquesta Aragon – No me molesto

#BlogNo.5

Final words of Wisdom

Now let us play hide and seek. Should you hide in my heart it would not be difficult to find you. But should you hide behind your own shell, then it would be useless for anyone to seek you.

Kahil Gibran

Goals, Ambition, Drive.