Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Prelude!

This morning,I awoke to music in my head:actually,that’s not odd as every morning there is some tune going around,but today the tune made me think quite a bit.You see,it was “The Prelude to the angry young man”,by Billy Joel.It starts with a rippling rock Piano introduction that Billy often plays as the intro to all his live concerts.Having tried to play it myself,I can vouch for the difficulty of executing it well.Its sheer excitement ,and the way he communicates to me says much about the beginnings of a future event.

To me,that is what Preludes do musically and they often propell us forward to action and purposeful activity.As I write this,I can hear Billy play this,and I can see him coming up unto the stage with his trademark grand piano and I ,probably along with so many others ,consider him an American,but an Italian immigrant descent.

Like all countries,American had its beginnings with struggles and turmoil and although their history is no where near as expansive as ours,they are still looked to by the rest of the world as guardians of freedoms that others can only dream of.Its no accident that artists have gravitated to the United States to live,and to express themselves through their art in this great country.For example,two of our rock music sons chose to make New York their spiritual home they were John Lennon and David Bowie ,and it is to these conditions that I feel all people should,no matter what their race,religion or politics should avail themselves too.

American by its definition is a continent.Why the state of Colorado could easily fit in to it the whole land mass of Britain,so that gives us an idea of the sheer size of the country.We in Britain often get our information about America from the two compass extremes.We either read,or hear about the Eastern seaboard of the United States,with New York,and Washing ngton D.C. or we are drawn in by the West coast with San Francisco and Los Angeles.We might know that there are over 50 states that go to make up the population,but we don’t always get the complex geo-political structures that are contained within their boundaries.However,we do get that when America closes its borders that usually the world becomes less safe,not more.When America appears to be veering down its own isolationist track,then that isn’t a good thing for the rest of the world.

As I write this,American musicians and artists have figured largely in my life as such.Their songs permeated my life as a child,and their intentions were the pursuit of freedoms,humanity and decency.All these are what artists do and sometimes at the expense of their leaders and would be moral guardians.

When artists create ,they do so ,not to get agreement,but to start a conversation,and in the case of America,they might well do so to start a conversation with itself.As the whole country was built on immigration,it’s not surprising that the melting pot that makes up the big Apple are on the streets.Its not surprising that women are demonstrating on the streets when they see their freedoms being eroded at the least,and threatened at the worse.

It is sad in many ways when leaders don’t appear to understand how and why freedom is so important ,and it is equally sad when fractures appear and opposing groups rise up.We in Britain,with our long history have observed the goings on in the United States ,with over a million people signing a petition regarding their fears about a state visit from the president of the United States.Now,I was a very Young boy when JFK was assassinated,yet I still remember those times and events.Moving forward to watergate and the bugging of the democrats campaign building,I remembered the impeachment of Richard Nixon,or “tricky dicky”,as he was then called.In Britain,where I soaked up all my life experience,the only time I had ever heard or had knowledge of the word “bugging”,was from James Bond films,and so my naive understanding of Politics across the pond had  their green shots from the turmoil of capital hill at that time.

Now the new President talks constantly about “draining the swamp”,and I wonder and maybe too much.You see,change on one hand can happen seemingly quickly in America,but on the other ,those deep seated freedoms of movement that the states have enshrined in their constitution won’t be destroyed by an executive power.

My faith in my artistic betters is still in evidence.You see,the American people are not,in my humble opinion,anymore taken in by “fake news” than we are in Britain.Good people in the rust belt states have lost jobs and dignity .Now wether that is due in the main to globalisation isn’t entirely known,but the hope is that America won’t turn in on itself.

In fact ,because America is,and remains so,a deeply religious land,a biblical quote comes to mind :Its from the book of Proverbs Chapter 18:1 and it says that the one isolating himself seeks his own selfish longing,or words to that affect.It is never really positive or bemificial for anyone to just seek the self interest,of self indulgent path in life,as it foments discords,mistrust and leads to hatred.

Nothing that is really positive will ever be achieved by adopting a judgemental attitude where people feel marginalised ,segregated and mistrusted because of their race or religion.

This blog post is in gratitude to those American musicians and Artists who have truly made life better for all of us.As America struggles publicity with who she is,with binary polarised opinion,with fake news,let’s just remember what the land has given our ancestors,our country and our way of life too.

Thank you.




You play a piece of music by Chopin and the listener wells up,

You explain why a sonata has patterns that we call form,

You play along with your pupil and you feel the tension leaving them,

You listen to them,your a life coach to them,and all that in one Piano lesson,

Just to think,it all started in a cafe in Indian Queens,Cornwall,1965.

Close encounters of a feline kind!

My laziness got the better of me yesterday,allowing me to pass on walking up to my local convenience store to purchase washing up liquid.So,on this Monday morning,with dishes piled to the false ceiling,it was judgement day and I just had to take that not so long walk.

My dogs looked at me as if I were the living dead at 7 in the morning,signalling that they had no intention of being my companions at arms as it were.So,while it was still technically dark,I gingerly opened my front door with a motion like a sprinter who had just false started.So,trying again to engage the lock ,I finally got out of the house to walk up to the shop.As I traversed across my gravel drive way,I spy a different creature perusing my every step.Yes,my neighbours cat was starring at me with those knowing eyes of hers.In that examination of me,in that second,nay ,that Nanno second she had summed me up with her gaze.You see,Mary and I have history,or should I say that one of my dogs and I have history.Mary ,that specimen of feline superiority wasn’t at all nervous by my tread,and my cadence was dismissed by her as if I were just another inconvenience to ignore.

In fact,Mary never let anyone get the better of her.Since the passing of Mr Buzz,who we had adopted following my nephew moving to France to work,Mary had become the queen ,monarch if you like of the community here.In a way,I liked to think that Mr Buzz had a hand in her training and in an odd way,I rather like these odd occurrences where Mary acknowledges that I’m that dog owner next door.

So,I continue on my way to the shop ,but as I go,I wonder about Mary,or,as she is now affectionately called in this little enclave “Mary the murderer”,or to be exact “Mary the murderer of other poor specimens.She has a bell,but she is most adept at moving in a way that doesn’t cause alarm.To be honest,I think Mary might be cleverer than my dogs,but I can’t prove it.

Well,that was my brush with Mary .It was short and sweet,but I doubt that it will be my last encounter.So,as the birds are singing high up in the trees that festoon our drive,I hope that they are on the alert for a rather canny felling with the death stare.

Alfie is down town in Bude!

When Alfie left the Knights of Tintagel,he realised that he had left Just a little piece of his past life well and truly behind him.His time there had meant a week long stay,time enough to visit all his old haunts and re-live some of the memories.As a caveat to that,Alfie knew that his version of events were at variance with others in his family.He expected that because coming from such a large family,you will always have differences of opinion,and you have to accept that as the roughand tumble of life as it were.

Walking along his route now in the direction of abuse,his mind sped back to memories of travelling up to visit his uncle Jack and Auntie Wyn.Jack was Alfie’s mother’s brother and was,I suppose,the mans man of the family.Decorated in the navy during the Second World War,he was Alfie’s least favourite of all her siblings,but his mother doted on him,bestowing almost divine qualities in this man.In reality ,Jack was probably somewhere in between of our opinions if truth be told.He was an AA man working the Strecth from Bude to Tiverton taking in the early sections of the M5 at that time.Alfie got quite bored of Jack telling these endless stories of various motorist failure to put oil in their car,of people getting flat tyres and the like.But,as is the case of us Cornish-With Alfie being no exception-Jack told the stories well ,that is,if you had only heard them once.

Alfie dwelt a little in his own thoughts about Jack.Now,I suppose,you would call him a bully because Alfie remembered just how aggressive Jack could if you didn’t agree with him.Jack was the first word,the middle word,and the last Ines in every conversation.You never really talked,you had an audience,and Alfie realised that this must have been extremely difficult for his son Michael.At the time,Michael was a great disappointment to Jack because he worked in a factory on an assembly line.Alfie,however,got on well with Mike,and he credited Mike with introducing him to the music of Petula Clark that Alfie would,along with the work of Tony a hatch and Jackie Trent.Alfie would also realise that he had quite a crush on Petula Clark back then in the late 1960s.

Wether it was because Alfie was now heading for Bude in his journey,or for other reasons not yet apparent,Jack,Wyn and Mike came back to him.He had thought that these memories had been buried deep inside his subconscious ,but as he walked things came flooding back.As they did,the dulcet tones of Pet Clark did too:”Down town”with that simple but so effective piano introduction ,and “Dnt sleep in the subway Darling “,and finally “Colour my World”,these tunes he heard for the first time on Mikes record player in their lounge,and he would be allowed to work the player ,use the stylus arm,load the 45s,and he was in a musical form f heaven.Petula Clark’s voice was vocally appealing to him ,and he got lost in it.Tony Hatch didn’t layer the sound so muc,and it still had that big band backing that would be the soundtrack to these great artists.He always felt good when these songs were played,and he remembered those weekends as the highlight for him.As regards to the drinking,the constant eating,the bizarre parties with the almost ensvitable brawling he found quite troubling to be honest.

With this mixture of emotions,Alfie walked on,he walked on in the knowledge that throughout his life,people had affected him for the good in ways that they never fully got because he might have been a child at the time,or they might have assumed that he hadn’t seen what he had seen,or heard what he had heard.Either way,Alfie knew that his journey from Porth to Bude had been,to him,at least,a success.Now,Alfie viewed success in maybe more of a nebulous manner than others,but Alfie concluded the following about his life:He was still living at 59,he was reasonably fit as this journey surely testified,he was liked My many,and loved by a few.He had been teaching the Piano for over 35 years,which surely is an accomplishment.

He would ,of course,have wished to have known his real father,but boy who struggles to get himself three ugh puberty,then into manhood wouldn’t.He would have dearly loved for his sister Shiela to have been spared the plague that was,and still is,cynical mental illness,and he would have quite liked to have had a daughter as well as his two sons.

As Alfie penned these words,he realised that there would be other events ,other memories,just other stuff to recount,but right now he was so glad that he wasn’t sleeping in the subway tonight.

Awake from Slumber.

By just taking out the traffic that normally streams past my house,it frees up my mind to listen to the morning calls of Mother Nature as a new day begins.As their songs herald a conversation in the trees,my Sunday morning beckons too.When that first cup of tea soothes the taste buds,when the side light supports your eyes,you start to force yourself to move out of slumber into action.

Sometimes ,as I have often had conversations with my teenage pupils about the concept of “the duvet day”,I know that I haven’t always got why there is a need to stay in bed when you are awake,and it is something that I accept is their feelings on the matter.Lets be frank,if they want to stay in bed until late,it isn’t a mark of their being right or wrong,it’s just how they feel.

Sometimes,as now,I might open the back door and just listen to the sounds that permeate through from outside as they seem real to me.Truthfully,I find the sounds of our gardens of a Sunday such a comfort.

Well,in many ways,it’s good that I do,as this relationship between my hearing and my mind has been a wonderful constant throughout my life and it fuels so many of my thoughts.Just as artists who are fuelled by light and colour get energised by it ,so much so ,that they have to paint ,well,I get a similar sensation with the early morning onset of these garden sounds as I like to call them.

Do they relax me?Why yes,I never break off from listening feeling more stressed or agitated,but rather,I feel a wave of peaceful emotion and I liken it to times when I have had a nightmare and then I have woken up and then eventually music comes into my head and I feel better,that peaceful release.

So,these are my thoughts,my personal muse on this Sunday morning before the day begins.

Here is hoping that your day might be energised by something peaceful,something that touches you.

Thank you.


Cossi up to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart !

As the music of Mozart has been in my mind today,I wonder where I would be without my love of music in life,You see,my love for music started way before my appreciation for literature which came comparatively late in life.This isn’t ,for me at least,a handicap,it’s more of a fact.

As I played through,in my head that is,the 29th Mozart symphony,I was brought back to my primary school at Indian Queens,and my teacher at that time who introduced me to this master.From that moment onwards,I was truly hooked on Amadeus.This interest was fuelled by ,at times,rather mediocre arrangements of the G Minor symphony for brass band,where I played firstly the cornet,then,as my lip settled ,the E flat tenor horn.As my teenage years moved into their mature manifestations,I listened to the Piano Concertos with my friend Jonathan Carne.We chewed the cud of what we thought were the hidden meanings of the master were.Those were vital years to share and develop my love for classical music in a safe environment.

Of course,now at my age,I’ve infested my brain with so much music from multi genres but I can still can honestly say that Mozart never is stale.He lives now as much as he ever did.When we fuse his artistry with his bemius then things happen.Having heard Ashkenazy,Brendel,Lang Lang,and Kissin play this master’s music ,I was truly blessed.This music is,and should be appreciated more by all,and I never heisitate to expose it to other people .

So,what is my point in this blog?Its that we should never knock music because it was written hundreds of years ago,we should never dismiss music that is current either,but we should strive to make good music,we should strive to expect the highest of standards from what we listen too.In these days of endless choice,let’s make sure that we expose ourselves to the best,

To me,Mozart is up there with the best ,he is still at the Zenith of artistic expression.
Thank you for your attention to my blog tonight!

My moment!

So,I’m sitting down after a lunch of one of the 57 varieties of soup,minding my own business,when I get a tug at my trouser leg.Its one of my dogs who has decided that he wants his walk-sort of my fault for not taking him out this morning.So,the tugging continues in earnest ,followed by his litter mate deciding to indulge in a barking fest !!This continues until I aquese ,and I take them out.

So,I take them out on their walk and it’s cold ,it’s sort of drizzle as well.As we progress around our route-yes,I am a creature of habit -where they proceed to scent mark the whole of the bushes that they see.As I think I know that dogs tend to learn most of their stuff via smelling,I sort of take it all in my stride.Passing quite a collection of members of the canine family in  the Dorset town where I liv,I realise that my dogs have friends ,like dog friends,and I indulge their little foibles.So after quite a few Paws for thoughts as it were,we carried on with our walk.Bearing in mind,that by now,the drizzle was increasing in intensity and I was beginning to get a move on.

After yet another pause in the constitutional,in what felt like an age,one of my dogs turned to me ,and looking up to me he just looked so adorable at me that I just melted.Truly,in that moment,I had forgotten that they hadn’t been that well behaved at all,but it didn’t seem to matter.

It made me think that we are all affected by moments that bring us joy in life,it might be a picture at a gallery,a piece of music,a smile,a kind word.In fact ,the list is endless if we seize the moment.

So whatever the Latin is for seize the moment :Lets do it,lets savour the good we have in life always.

The value in not always knowing!

When asked profound questions of a political or theological nature,I often have to say that I don’t know the solution.Now,that ,to many,is a sign of weakness,causing them to blag and bluster.But think on this if you will:What do you think you want to value most in a human being,let alone a teacher?Is it not their humility,their modesty and their honesty.
Yes,it would be great if I did have an u derstanding of these big themes ,but it’s never good to pretend,leaving people to rely on your well intentioned opinions,but not genuine solutions.Yes,saving face,embarrassments are all issues that we all face,but they should all be sacrificed really for the integrity of our dealings with our fellow man.

Take me,for example,I have a speck of talent for music,and that talent has allowed for me to teach the Piano and has done so now for over 35 years.However,at school,I struggled with Maths  and I never passed my o-level,or,for that matter,the old CSE either..Now,at the age of 59,I am taking steps to rectify that and I have been honest with the people who know me.Also,I have honest with m y pupils too.Now,I don’t detect anyone belittling me,rather I feel their support and they want to help me when they can to achieve this qualification.

You see,I know I achieve the small things in my life,but others value me for the person I am,and for the good I do for them.I do not have the solutions,but I do have some of the lubricant of life to love people,to show kindness to me,to inspire them with my love f the arts.

So,as a new day enfolds,I’m happy as much with my lack of knowledge as I am with my sage advice in subjects where I do.

Thank you.

Two sorts of fog!

Where it came from,I know not,this thick mist,this Pea-Souper,THIS FOG,

It makes surburbia seem threatening,it inhabits other people’s bodies so that they walk towards you but you can’t see them.

Weather people give out warnings,we all wonder when it will lift,

But ,us humans have fogged up bodies too,the type that turns a blind eye to suffering,mental anguish,and homelessness.

Why,this fog will lift,it will go away,and life will return to normal,but will the fog lift from my mind,will I see people as humans with hearts,or will I see them as “benifit cheats,”or “Scroungers”or single mums,

I hope that when the fog lifts that I may make a small degree of change to the compassionate side,the kindness side.

How about you?

Thank you .


Ebony and Ivory!

I sit at the Piano,and have done so for well nigh 50 years now,

Yes,there are all the notes of the orchestra at my disposal.

My fingers glide slowly ,but with deliberation,over the keys,

Those “songs in the key of Lfe”as Stevie penned in the 1970s.

As I improvised ,memories popped into my head,messages were read,

Playing notes,not playing others ,delicately feels no the hand on my shoulder of my supporters.

Why yes,playing can be lonely,but the emotional release is tantamount to tears,ivory tears,

So,I drench the keys with my emotions,and there is so much after 50 years.

Listening to the phrases,the silence in between the notes,I feel hope,

That blazing realisation that I have a speck of talent,a nucleus from childhood.

My ivory tears are spent,my playing falls silent in the midst of a remembered masterpiece ,

Yes,”Jesus dwelt within my fingers and massaged my soul,such talent that the world won now behold.

Why does the world knock its artists,its sensitive souls,when they are the ones that make the rest truly whole,

Fore where would we be without musicians and artists ?

They tell us what it’s like to be :Human.

Thank you.