(Dis) Connect.

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Many many more weeks of lockdown have passed by in a bit of a blur if I’m being honest. Health continues to grumble along keeping the days uneven and the feeling that progress and life have stalled a bit …… but I imagine everyone feels that at the moment from time to time (or maybe all of the time!?). It’s easier to get a grip and “buck up a bit” on some days more than others which is not to say that I’m stuck in a cycle of constantly being a misery chops …… more that I think that of late there have been a few more misery chops days than previously. The mind and body are seeking a bit of respite but currently there is none to be had …… so I’ll resume muddling along for now and grab ahold of the good days whenever they come along. The above picture is of Burghead beach in Moray and was taken by Donald E. Ross. I get lost in the ebb and flow of waves connecting, disconnecting and then reconnecting with the sand.

There have been lots of things to get stuck into though. Rehearsals and open sessions with Sonic Bothy have been happening with live captioning as I hear very little useful audio through online platforms. We’ve chanced upon an amazing captioner, who besides captioning words, talks, meetings and conversations vividly describes sounds and music in the rehearsals and sessions for me. Think madrigal and word painting and you’re just about there such is the depth of her descriptions! I had first worked with this particular captioner with Drake Music in the last while and a few weeks ago she had the “delightful” task of captioning my first ever webinar about words and music and ending with some Dada voice work stuff. Humour seems to creep into most things I do and she said she could hardly type through laughing so much. So that’s nice. And webinars …… ooh that was a challenge I hope never to repeat for at least a year and a half! A good challenge and way out of my comfort zone. I think it’s the being “out front” thing which I find most difficult which probably sounds a bit weird because I do perform from time to time but being on a stage I can do while public speaking is akin to sitting on really hairy prickly cucumbers …… on purpose!

Can you believe that it’s actually June …… where the flamingo did May go!? That’ll be that blurring of days and weeks thing. And does anyone else feel as though they have done not that much at all in the past 10 weeks!? As if the time passed blankly looking at the wall or something …… in that good timing of stuff that sometimes happens I’m nearing the end of a two week online workshop with Imaginate which looks at you and your practice and works gently through a series of tasks which have an unexpected way of actually making you think about things in a non-scary and fairly deep and meaningful way. It is gently bringing me back into the present and kick-started a mindfulness practice which had abandoned me so far during lockdown. I’m using the word gently a lot ……. can you gently face things? I hope so. That’s what I’m aiming for …….

Besides the really scary webinar task we also had a question to respond to at the Drake Music artist residency this last month which asked us to ponder on the themes of “connect and disconnect”. As I feel quite disconnected a lot of the time anyway owing to my own shortcomings in personality and a propensity to hide I wondered what it would be like to spend a couple of weeks engaging online as much as I could and so I turned up to every captioned webinar and talk on music and disability arts and Covid possible. Was it illuminating? A lot of them were awfully interesting to be fair so that was quite good! By the end of it I was talking a bit in them, trying to contribute but not feeling comfortable doing so. Did I network or find a voice? In reality it just confirmed what I knew before in that I’m rubbish at this sort of stuff and that doing more of it in a way I was uncomfortable with wasn’t going to make me any better at it. So I’ll probably go back to being quiet in these online gatherings but will try my utmost to be an active listener! It was really interesting to “be out there” a bit more though and I’ll certainly continue with that albeit in a quiet way.

I’ve had a nice commission for a new song come in and I’ll waffle on about that more in the next post. I’ve also applied for 2 things which may or may not come through but it seems important to keep trying at least a little bit. I did write a fair few lyrics in May although so far they haven’t come together with music yet in any pleasing way so this month I have a song without words. It’s about connecting and disconnecting and is called (funnily enough!?) …..  (Dis) Connect .

Actual time off ……….

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It’s July and like many others I’m taking some time off. The first half of 2019 has involved a lot of travelling and this month I’m aiming to stay still! Not going on holiday, staying at home, watching Wimbledimble and having a break from trains and ramps and things …. heheheheh. What a weirdo! Never mind!

Perhaps I’ll even find a moment to read up on formatting a blog post ……

Next month I’m going to be working with Sonic Bothy an inclusive contemporary music ensemble based in Glasgow and starting properly on the Fellowship with Trinity Laban. Until then enjoy the mixed weather and summer days!

Early summer ….

Thanks mum Allori for the purple delight below!

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I’ve been back home from the Sound Symphony tour for a few weeks now. It’s difficult to describe in a few words how wonderful and transformational the whole experience was so I’m not going to even try!? Well, except to say that I have a deeper understanding of what’s possible for me and judging by the opportunities currently circling this definitely seems to be a new phase in life, career and whatnot. Ruddy marvellous.

One thing that has featured heavily during the past few months is that little word access. If you have difference as a human in any shape or form this word can have a huge impact on almost everything you do. I’m not known for speaking up about things which isn’t always useful but if you know me even a little you have probably noticed that I don’t really like to create fuss or to draw attention. In other words, I mostly like to hide ….. a lot. But recently there have been 2 such starkly different experiences of access by 2 different organisations in my days that I’m not entirely sure what to make of it all to be perfectly honest. So what makes good access? It turns out it’s really simple and begins with the question “What do you need to happen to make this possible?”. One organisation got this very right in the past month and one very, very wrong …….

Early summer rain has brought a different pace after the excitement of touring. I’ve taken a little time to be ill and to take stock. Snot seems to await those days off after you’ve been ridiculously busy! Lovely stuff! I have a big decision to make with work, a bit of space to dream and a Trinity Laban Learning & Participation Music Fellowship to keep me out of mischief. I’ll waffle on a bit more about this in the next post. Not very exciting this blog is it!? Och well, just having a go and pondering things ………

Sound Symphony.

Here is a random image of a lovely flower given to me by Barbara Hockaday!

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I have no idea how to format a blog post so you can follow my progress over the next few attempts … So I’ve been working on Sound Symphony for the past 3 weeks. It’s a sensory theatre show for young people with autism and I’ve been involved in the devising and rehearsal process. It’s been a constantly surprising, creative, wonderful and exhausting experience so far and working with a team of consistently kind and creatively inventive humans. I’ve not done anything quite like this before mainly because I haven’t done much theatre but it’s definitely an area that’s making me very curious …. In my last theatrical endeavour with Graeae in 2014 I had expected to be a background musician and was very much mistaken. Once I got over the initial shock I kind of loved it but it felt very removed from what I usually did in music. Being out of your comfort zone for a time every now and again is not necessarily a bad thing. As with Graeae’s Threepenny Opera, performing in Sound Symphony is really uplifting and creatively refreshing. Sound Symphony is a new way of working in some senses but also brings together a lot of skills and experiences developed along with the passing of years. One more week until performances begin ….

Hello there!

Trying out this blogging lark again 5 years after the last one. I’m not sure where the time goes – if you ever find out let me know and I’ll pop over with a net ….. I’m back here mainly because I’m about to venture into a new theatrical adventure and thought it might be slightly interesting to write about it. (I can’t guarantee that it will be interesting to read though!). After losing my beloved hound last month to old age and being in a bit of a low, have been feeling a little like a change of pace is needed professionally to shake up those creative juices. Is creativity a juice? Does it have a flavour? Mine feels a little flat of late and in need of some fizz. And then an unexpected project comes along that threatens to be brilliant but also to shove you out of that nice comfy comfort zone you’ve been existing in. Ah well! Let’s see shall we!?