Beautiful Russian Music For Piano

We have been rehearsing and playing a lot of Russian music lately in lessons. The music is suitably moody and emotive to many of our current students – they seem to enjoy the somewhat dissonant sounds at times and the fun rhythmic patterns!

There are so many great composers who have come from Russia. Often we just hear about the greatest of the great – yet this Russian music series has broadened our horizons on the variety that Russian music presents.

Check out ‘Russian Music for Piano’ by Chester Music and enjoy some beautiful tunes!

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National Curriculum at Schools in Uganda

As part of our current research project, we have been learning about the National Curriculum in Uganda. It is different to the model that we follow in Europe. It is based on a Curriculum Wheel that consists of eight Learning Areas. The Areas cover subject knowledge, but also general skills such as creative thinking and workplace behaviour.

Being a prominently Christian country, Religious education features in all primary and secondary schools. In addition to the usual subjects of language, science, mathematics, social science and physical education with creative arts, something called Life Education forms a part of the curriculum. This section focuses on life skills such as living healthily in the community and taking care of one’s personal health.

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Interestingly for us since we are specifically looking at music education in Uganda, music has been classed under Physical Education. What this entails is something that we are currently finding out and conducting a survey on current practices taking place – we will be sharing the interesting findings soon! In the meantime, you can learn more about the National Curriculum on the website of the National Curriculum Development Centre:

http://www.ncdc.go.ug/

New School Term in Uganda

New term at our school in Uganda has got off to a good start. Children at the Mother Ann nursery school and music students at the Buna School of Music have been busy with their new lessons and curriculum for the autumn term, which is also their last term of the year since, in Uganda, the school year runs from January to November.

Insightful Reading on Music in Uganda

This week we have been spending time on researching music in Uganda. Like other African countries, Uganda has a rich history in music. It has been particularly interesting to learn about different styles of music from different regions of Uganda – how the local languages, dances,tribal practices and singing styles have influences the current musical culture in Uganda.

For those of you who know more about academics and researchers in music, you might find it interesting to know that Peter Cooke collected vast amounts of recordings in Uganda back in the day! These can all still be found at the British Library.

For more in-depth reading and knowledge on this, we recommended the two books that you can see in the images below – they are very comprehensive and very interesting reading indeed!

Post-doctoral Research Study on Music Education in Uganda

We are pleased to say that we have been awarded a scholarship to carry out an investigative study on the music education system in Uganda, East Africa. The scholarship was awarded by the Society for Education and Music Psychology Research (SEMPRE).

The research study will investigate current practice in music education across Uganda in order to identify challenges and potential ways forward in the field. The study will consist of data collection with local music education professionals in four regions of the country in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the issue.

We delighted to be starting work on this important topic and we’ll be reporting any findings here on due course.

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Piano Cover for ‘Passionfruit’ by Drake

One of the things that I love about my job is that students introduce songs to me that I might not have otherwise paid much attention to, even if I had heard them on the radio. One such song is ‘Passionfruit’ by Drake. We worked on a piano cover for the song with a teenage student yesterday. What beautiful melody and catchy rhythm!

The Theorist on youtube has an excellent piano tutorial. There is also an option of downloading the sheet music – the link is below for you to enjoy!

Glastonbury Inspiration

There is always amazing energy at Glastonbury, but it seems that this year it was even more electrifying. With all the upsetting events of late, people got together in the name of music and we could see all the great energy at the festival this year.

For anyone looking for music inspiration this week, here is coverage from the festival that can be viewed outside of the UK as well:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/ec584f/live/cvv9mb

Piano Tutorial for Herbie Hancock’s ‘Chameleon’

This week we have been busy getting ready for grade exams. In the midst of business, we have managed to play some relaxing jazz music. One favourite for this week has turned out to be Herbie Hancock’s ‘Chameleon’.

You can find a good piano cover and tutorial here – it’s a nice listen on it’s own too!

Coping with Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety is very common – most musicians and music students would report to have suffered from it at some point in their lives. Even very seasoned musician admit to feeling very nervous before performing – for example, Rita Ora, the singer and recording artist, has admitted feeling extremely nervous before going on stage to the point where she feels like throwing up. She said that the only way for her to cope with it is to keep telling herself that she can only be as good as she possibly can and to do her best.

Now is the time of Grade exams and so many students are struggling with nerves.
There are some simple tricks to coping with performance anxiety – for some handy ideas, check out this list from http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/stage-fright-performance-anxiety#1:

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Performance Anxiety Treatments

Here are some tips to help you overcome your fears and shine on stage, on the field, or at the podium:

1. Be prepared: practice, practice, practice.

2. Limit caffeine and sugar intake the day of the performance. Eat a sensible meal a few hours before you are to perform so that you have energy and don’t get hungry. A low-fat meal including complex carbohydrates — whole-grain pasta, lentil soup, yogurt, or a bean and rice burrito — is a good choice.
Shift the focus off of yourself and your fear to the enjoyment you are providing to the spectators. Close your eyes and imagine the audience laughing and cheering, and you feeling good.

3. Don’t focus on what could go wrong. Instead focus on the positive. Visualize your success.

4. Avoid thoughts that produce self-doubt.

5. Practice controlled breathing, meditation, biofeedback, and other strategies to help you relax and redirect your thoughts when they turn negative. It is best to practice some type of relaxation technique every day, regardless of whether you have a performance, so that the skill is there for you when you need it.
Take a walk, jump up and down, shake out your muscles, or do whatever feels right to ease your anxious feelings before the performance.

6. Connect with your audience — smile, make eye contact, and think of them as friends.

7. Act natural and be yourself.

8. Exercise, eat a healthy diet, get adequate sleep, and live a healthy lifestyle.

Keep in mind that stage fright is usually worse before the performance and often goes away once you get started.

Piano Cover of Grieg’s ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’

Grieg’s ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ is a piece that has become very famous over the past 100 years. Although initially composed for a full orchestra, it is equally beautiful on single instruments and for smaller ensembles.

We have been working on this with different students on and off for the past year. Recently, we rediscovered it after a teenage student heard it on the Alton Towers TV advert and wanted to learn it.

We discovered a couple of excellent tutorials on youtube – see below and have a go a home! The piece is highly addictive so be prepared to get hooked!