Gregory and Nusjaree Catholic Wedding Mass 1st of April 2017

I recently had the pleasure of organising the music for a Catholic Wedding Mass that was celebrated at the Parish I used to regularly attend, Holy Spirit in City Beach, Western Australia on Saturday the 1st of April, 2017.

I was contacted by the groom, Gregory Hall, two weeks prior to the wedding to enquire about various options that music could be included in his Wedding Mass. Gregory had initially approached my Father in-law after morning Mass at Holy Spirit with him thinking of trying to get the choir to sing. Unfortunately, the choir was not available so I was suggested as a good alternative to get excellent quality and prayerful / liturgically correct music in the short period of time left.

In the initial conversation with Greg he mentioned that he was thinking of just using recorded music and needing an operator, the main reason for this was related to volume, both Greg and Nusjaree didn’t want any of the focus taken off the importance of the commitment they were making to each other before God in front of their family and friends. They had concerns that live music might overpower the intimate atmosphere they were trying to create.

I made the suggestion that a piano with solo vocalist would be an option for live music which would be intimate and enhance the overall Mass rather than detract from it. After a few days consideration Greg made contact with me saying that they ad decided they’d like to have live music. The only stipulation was that the bridal entrance was a specific recorded traditional Thai song, “Love” which was important to Nusjaree to show the connection to her Thai heritage.

Over the next week Gregory emailed the various song names for the Mass through to me for me to source the music and prepare for they special day. I contacted the wonderful Stephanie Ryan to provide the main vocals while I did piano accompaniment and backing vocals. The songs they selected were:

  1. Pre-Music – Pachelbel’s Canon in D (performed by Simon Montgomery)
  2. Instrumental Music throughout the lighting of the candles (performed by Simon Montgomery)
  3. Here We Stand Lord (Traditional Hymn) for the lighting of the Unity Candle.
  4. Take Our Bread (Traditional Hymn) for the Offertory.
  5. Eucharistic Mass Parts.
  6. The Lord’s Prayer (Sister Janet Mead).
  7. One Bread One Body (Traditional) for Communion.
  8. Here I Kneel Before You (Traditional) for after Communion.
  9. Fields of Gold (Sting) Signing of the Register.
  10. Wedding March (Mendelssohn) Recessional Hymn.

The entire ceremony was one of intimacy and beauty. It is clearly evident that Gregory and Nusjaree love each other deeply and it was a pleasure to be able to contribute to the celebration to mark the beginning of their life together as husband and wife.

A huge thank you to Gregory and Nusjaree for entrusting me with the responsibility of organising and providing the music. In my conversation with Gregory at the conclusion of the wedding he was delighted at the quality of the music and how it was “just as he had imagined it.”

That is the biggest compliment a musician at a wedding can be paid.

I am available for booking as a musician or to organise musicians for your next event. Contact me for more details.

Trumpet Challenge Week 4

The challenge continued to throw up some interesting problems to overcome, this week’s I have not experienced for over a year –  numerous blisters.

The additional playing and stress placed on my chops in the previous week due to the amount of time and also range playing in (mostly on the tenor in altissimo) has resulted in mu lips being totally split and blistered up. I decided that it would be best to rest my lips and give them time to heal rather than try to play through the pain. I have tried to do the play though thing before, and even this week had to for a Musical Rehearsal, but if I can rest a little then it the blisters pass a lot faster and I can get back into it. Plus, let’s be honest, no one really likes spitting blood continuously.

I am hoping that this approach of resting will serve me well and next week will be a fresh start. It will be the beginning of school holidays next Saturday, here’s to hoping that with this comes two weeks of more than once a week practice. I still have a lot that needs to get done both school wise and actually getting some time with the family, which I really am looking forward, so hopefully there’ll be a little amount more regularly thatch be spent on the trumpet and my more established instruments.

Come on lips, time to heal up quickly!!!

Trumpet Challenge Week 3

The difficulty of the challenge has continued throughout this last week, especially in finding regular time to practice my instrument.

This week proved even more difficult due to some of the other gigs I had scheduled on top of my usual school teaching commitments. I received a phone call from Timothy Nelson, from Timothy Nelson and the Infidels, to ask if I would be able to join a band that had been put together to play at the Roadshow Record Club, the album being “The Travelling Wilburys Vol. 1”. It was a great gig but it meant that the 2 days I had to prepare the solos, needed note for note, put everything else on the back burner.

Another downside to this is I blew my lips out from this gig, I now have some splits and blisters coming up…hopefully these won’t last too long.

All of that aside, I did manage to get my practice down on the Saturday, the same 20 minutes as I have managed to commit to. This week’s session was quite a but better than the previous ones. I’m putting this down to a lack of lip fatigue. My Saturday morning is my big private teaching day, usually I have played throughout lessons for 4 1/2 hours prior to doing the trumpet practice. Due to my split lip this week I did not really play during lessons, the difference in tone and clarity of notes was quite good.

I would like to think that I’ll be able to get some more done this week…I suppose only time will tell.

I am still trying to work on getting the videos up, I’m having some trouble uploading files as they are so big. With holidays coming up in a few weeks I should have the chance to maybe workout how I can do this effectively…as always, it seems everything comes down to that one precious word – TIME.

Trumpet Challenge Week 2

This challenge is proving difficult for me to find a regular routine and flow of momentum regarding regular practice. The business of my teaching schedule at school when combined with my private teaching, practice on other instruments and then (somewhere in there) some family time is not leaving a lot of room for trumpet playing.

I have found that my range and consistency of notes has improved a little (despite the lack of practice). I am comfortably hitting from my Low A (beneath the staff) to my high A (one octave in total). I can play my Bb, B and C above this but not comfortably every single time. I am still finding that there’s a lot of mis-pitched notes which hopefully my dedication to long notes will assist in correcting.

My students at school know that I’m undertaking this challenge, they’re already asking for em to bring the trumpet in so that they can see my improvement / how far I’ve gotten. I think I might hold off on this until after the school holidays, this should give me enough time to get a little more confident!

My videos of the once a week practice are proving a little difficult to upload! As soon as I have worked out the bugs I’l get them attached to each post for people to have a listen to…hopefully the improvement will be heard in my playing!

Trumpet Challenge – Week One An Overview

One of my goals for this year to learn the basic trumpet. I’m not a brass player, I have no desire to move into being able to perform brass instruments at a professional (or even super high) standard. My intention behind setting this goal for 2017 is linked to my role as an ensemble director and educator.

I direct a number of ensembles at the school I currently work at, two of these are middle school ensembles that have brass players as members (a Concert Band and Jazz Big Band). I want to grow in understanding of brass instruments (fingerings and technique) to assist them in both their individual and ensemble musicianship development and I feel that one of the best ways to have more knowledge on the instruments.

I am hoping to try to practise my trumpet for 10 to 15 minutes, 5 days a week. This is the requirements that I place on my beginner students so it seems only fair that I try to apply the same principle to my own development!

I will be recording my sessions and posting the videos in post updates. It is going to be quite confronting for me to do this but my hope is that this will keep me accountable as well as show, over time, an improvement in my ability (if I do actually do the practise required).

If any trumpeters or band directors have any advice to give me in how to improvement please feel free to comment. I would ask that all comments are kept positive, after all my aim is to grow as a musician and educator rather than trying to showcase my ability on the trumpet…I know it’s very average at best!

 

A Chance to STOP and breathe.

I have tried to get better at regularly doing a lot of reading across a broad range of subject areas. I really enjoy reading a good Science Fantasy novel (yes, I know it’s a bit geeky) but I also try to read a variety of non-fiction books, various biographies from inspiring people. One of the concepts and actions that a lot of these inspiring people have in common is the importance laced on being able to take the time to stop, breathe, enjoy the current moment and reflect on the journey that they are currently taking. This concept is not just a secular or modern view on life but rather can be traced back to most of the large religions and spiritual movements through either meditation, prayer, pilgrimage and retreating.

Unknown copyTo be honest, I really am not the greatest at this whole stopping, enjoying the moment and reflecting on how I’m going emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically, relationally or accomplishments. I don’t think that makes me unusual in this fast paced world that we live in, taking time to try stop and “unplug” from our society is increasingly challenging in the digital age, however, I am trying to correct this. After all, a life not reflected upon is life that has not truly been lived and I want to be able to look back in one, five, ten, twenty, fifty / sixty years time and be able to see growth due to taking time to reflect and breathe.

My desire of wanting to consciously take the time to stop and breathe, enjoying the moment and my current state of life might seem contradictory to reflecting on the journey so far and also where it is I want to end up…however, I don’t see that these three ideals are mutually exclusive, but rather all interconnected.

Firstly, I am a product of what I have done and experienced in the past. My thoughts, actions and interactions have helped shape who I am to this point in time…the stopping and reflecting on who I am and what has occurred allows me the opportunity to see who I am truly am and why I am experiencing what I currently am…this gives me the power to change those things that I am not content with, enabling me to align my thoughts, actions and behaviours to become and achieve the various goals I have for my life. If I don’t go through this process then nothing will change…if nothing in my behaviour, thoughts and actions changes then the end result won’t change either.

Unknown-2This doesn’t mean I shouldn’t also be able to enjoy where I currently am. The point is me trying to enjoy the journey as I continue to move through life. Stopping and taking the time to spend with those who are most important to me, being my wife and children, enjoying the everyday interactions and celebrating who I am and who we are together should always be at the forefront of my mind. Having a gratitude for what I already have and experience is a definite necessity in this time of stopping and reflecting, I live a very blessed life and I should be grateful for what I have whilst having a desire to continue to grow and become the man I was created to be.

I am fortunate enough to be able to take some time over this weekend to do exactly this, stop and breathe. The school that I currently work at is a boarding school, we have a lot of country boys. Once a term, in the middle of it, our boys have a four day weekend to allow our boarding community to return home to their families, to stop and breathe. This post is me trying to do the same…how am I going at this half way point in Term One? Do I have the right balance in all areas of my life? Am I happy with how my students are progressing, if not, what do I need to do to help them become all they were created to be? Am I being a good father and good husband? Am I hitting my health targets? Hopefully this taking time to breathe this weekend will help with this and recharge the batteries at the same time as I am feeling a little depleted at the moment.

This day has gone a long way to helping already. A morning with my wife and children out at a really fun place was definitely the right sort of medicine. I cherish the times we get to spend together.

One thought that I have been having recently is try to get back into the habit of writing more. Maybe not just on m fitness posts as before but more about other goals, successes and aspiration that I am trying to achieve. I have thought from an education point of view I’d like to use it as a way to reflect on some of the different approaches I have been using with my students to teach Music during this year. Maybe I could do the same for some of my other goals as well…it’d be a matter of trying to find that right balance…always the concept I struggle with the most…balance.

Let’s see how I go!

The Power of Music as a Language

I am strong believer in the power of music as a unifier. I have always felt it is the one true universal language, it is possible for people from around the world who speak different languages and cannot communicate in other way to come together over a piece of Music and create something bigger, better and more beautiful than they could by themselves. It is a unifying force, indiscriminate in its nature, Music crosses over all social classes and demographics, races, cultures, religions. It is an activity for a team, it helps build relationships, unifying people in a common goal and outcome where everyone wins and everyone plays an important role in the bigger picture. Music helps teach valuable life skills including problem solving, team work, discipline and commitment.

14480659_1242952775736748_5444989310490045892_oI had a recent experience that help confirm my thoughts and beliefs when I was contacted by a parent wanting some additional lessons for their daughter while they were on holidays. The family were from Taiwan and were out holidaying in Perth, their daughter, let’s call her Mary for the sake of this post, a talented young clarinetist…the catch is that she could not really speak or understand a great deal of English. It would prove especially difficult considering I’m an Australian who really does slur his words, speaks with a have Australian accent and at a million miles an hour.

The question was, how would I go about teaching her? How could we work together to bridge this language barrier so that she got the most out of this experience?

The answer actually proved quite simple, through modelling. Every elements of the lesson I made sure that I modelled first, we followed the principle, “if you want to become better, do as I do…follow my example” and this seemed to work really well. We managed to achieve considerable improvement in Mary’s sense of time, rhythmic concept and tone production in a short period of time.

Playing Music managed to bring us together and communicate on a higher level to achieve a tangible result. Not only this but Music managed to teach Mary life skills and musicianship skills to assist in her future development as she returned home to Taiwan.

I have continued to think on these lessons, I feel that I have learnt a lot out of these myself. My personal pedagogy has been effected. Why waste time with words in lessons or ensemble rehearsals when they are not needed…maybe more teachers need to follow the principle of “do as I do” and model the behaviours and skills to their students…after all, isn’t this why we became musicians and educators in the first place? To play music and inspire the next generation to follow and grow in their understanding of the world around them, to fully express themselves and impact the lives of others?

I am hoping to see Mary again in the future, if not for more lessons then hopefully on the world stage somewhere as a Concert Clarinetist inspiring other young women to follow in her footsteps.

The Daily Challenge of Life at the Moment

I haven’t posted for a very long time on my website, it hasn’t been an intentional thing on my behalf just a fact that life feels like it has gotten away from me…

I have found it increasingly difficult over the past few years to just keep my head above water at times with the amount of “stuff” going on in my life and taking up time which is the most valuable resource a person has, after all, it is the only commodity one can’t make more of, only slowly lose it.

I love my life. I really do believe that I one of the most blessed men to ever walk this earth, I have so much going for me (and that is not me trying to boast).

My wife and children are my everything and why I try to do everything that that I am doing to hopefully become a better man, it doesn’t mean that at times I still feel that I fall short of being the husband and father that I want to be and that they need.

I have an amazing job, I am a musician. I get to go to work every day as a Music teacher at a beautiful school and get to share my  love and passion for Music and the Arts with so many young men, it really is a privilege. I am mindful though that with this privilege comes a lot of responsibility and my occupation isn’t without a cost to time away from those I love and hold dear.

Then there’s just the everyday run of life…that takes time as well.

So, why am I saying all of this? Is it to try and justify not posting for a very long time? Absolutely not, it is merely to try and give a broad picture on where I find myself at this moment in time, after all, a life not reflected on is a life not lived and I want to continue to make sure that my life has been one lived to its fullest potential…something that at times I probably don’t live up to as much as I’d want to.

Where am I at? What is it that I am striving for and am passionate about as 2017 continues to move along.

Putting it bluntly, I want to grow and be a better person. Hopefully by the end of the year I’ll be able to look back at 2017 and have grown and developed in every area of my life. I don’t think that I will necessarily have “made it” in any of the challenges I am undertaking but hopefully I can be at least one step closer in each of these.

Being a better me…what does that mean exactly?

Well that I believe can be broken down into a number of smaller categories and sections, I have been doing this every year for the past 7 years and there have been some positive results out of it…some of my goals I am going to outline below.

Goal One – Family.

imagesWe are created to not live in isolation but to live in community and, primarily, as a part of a family unit. I love my family both my core family of wife and children and my extended family (both my wife’s and my biological family). I have always tried to keep family as the core that everything is built around, they are why I work as hard as I do, but don’t always get the right balance between work and time with them. I am really going to try this year to keep the right priority and focus, spending quality time with them regularly being totally present.

Goal Two – Friends.

UnknownI have some great close friends, they are keenly loyal to me and I know that I can trust and call on them at any time of the day. These relationships have been built over many years of time together, sharing joint experiences both happy and sad times. The past few years have been challenging to get quality time with them regularly due to the business nature of my work and wanting to spend every spare moment with my family. I am going to try and work on these friendships more, not taking them for granted, throughout 2017. It doesn’t mean necessarily spending less time with family but more trying to get the right balance between being at work and being away from work.

Goal Three – Fun.

I used to know how to have fun and have a laugh. Somewhere along the journey I’ve become a lot more serious about everything in life. That’s something that I need to change whether it’s through being spontaneous in doing something, making light of a difficult situation and just consciously trying to smile more…I think this one for me will be a big challenge but they say that laughter is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Let’s give it a crack.

Goal Four – Fitness.

UnknownThese post are usually all focused on my fitness goals and progress. I have been exercising, but no where near as frequently or at the intensity that I’d like. This has been a result of the stresses at work and need to get in at much earlier times, combined with late nights and then injuries on top of it. All excuses aside I need to start back into a good routine as I am carrying a lot more weight than I want to be at this moment and a I worry about what the long term health effects would be if I don’t change something. Similarly I need to work on my diet. The stresses have resulted in me eating a lot more unhealthy food, sugary and salty…another aspect that will need to change in 2017.

Goal Five – Furthering / Formation.

UnknownI’ve worked really hard on some of these goals over the past years and am happy with some progress. I have managed to maintain a healthy (and manageable) reading regime of a minimum of twelve books a year (one a month) for the past four years. I’d love to read more but know that with the speed I read that it is just not feasible without having a negative effect on other areas of life.

I made the decision this year to really try and further myself as an educator. I am currently working towards completing my Certificate IV in Training and Assessment so that a Vocational Education Training (VET) Course in Music Performance may be a possibility at school. I am also looking at completing some Kodaly courses / accreditation over the next couple of years.

Musically I have started learning the trumpet, I feel that this will help me become a better band director in school through being able to share experiences and  knowledge with students…let’s see how that goes. I have also been working towards my Fourth Grade AMEB Flute performance exam…hopefully that will be done by half way through the year!!!

Goal Six – Financial.

imagesI have set some very specific financial goals. A book that I am currently reading, “The Richest Man in Babylon”, has really confirmed a lot of my previous thoughts and beliefs about savings and planning for the future. There’s been a lot of savings measures I’ve started to bring into my everyday life, trying to try the fat, as well as more structured budgeting to where money is going for saving/preparation for various planned expenses. Hopefully by the end of the year we’ll really start to see some dividends in this area of life.

Goal Seven – Favourable

A wise man once told me the importance in looking upon others with a sense of “favour” or good grace. This is something I really struggle with, always jumping to the worst conclusion as if I have been wronged. I’m really going to try and make the effort to look on every situation with good grace, showing favour and forgiveness to people always…I know this will probably be the biggest struggle for me but if I can take it one day at a time I might be able to at least improve a little.

The Challenges of Daily Life

Well that’s what the year 2017 is going to look like. Will I achieve all my Fs? Probably not…can I give them a red hot crack and see how far I get? Absolutely.

One sure thing is that I know I will fail a number of times (look any that, another F). But it really isn’t a matter of whether or not I fail but rather what I learn from that experience and, as I said to one of my boys at school during the week, how I respond to the situation after failing / being let down. There’s a lot I can’t change in the world and the environment I live, but what I can always change and work on is who I am currently am in my thoughts, reactions, speech and relationships. If this remains my focus I know that come the end of the year I will have grown and transformed.

Will I post more often in 2017…I hope so, but hey…who knows what life is going to throw at me.

The challenges I face in life daily are really and some are big of me but through the grace of God there is nothing to big that it can’t be overcome.

 

 

 

A Long Time Between Fitness Posts

Thursday 5th March 2015.

Whilst it has been a long time since I have posted any fitness updates to my webpage I can honestly say that I have been pleasantly surprised with the level of consistency I have retained over a long period of time.

2014 ended up being my best year regarding regular exercise, I didn’t miss a weekday from half way through July through to mid-December when I was holidaying on Rottnest (and even on Rotto I managed to fit in three 15km runs).

I did have some down time after Rottnest, not a lot happened exercise wise from Rottnest through to my return to school at the end of January, however, I have managed to pickup the routine again already with me not missing a weekday since returning to school.

I am yet to decide what my goals are fitness wise for this year, I have tossed up with the idea of running a Half Marathon at the end of May (HBF Run for a Reason) and then maybe the Half Marathon City to Surf in August as well. My first challenge will be at the beginning of May at school, the Inter-House Cross Country. I have challenged the boys in my Tutor Group (the Pastoral Care Form Class I have every morning) that for every boy who beats me I will donate $10 to charity. I am confident that there’s probably only one boy who will beat me, the fastest in the Year 9 cohort, however I’d like to even give it a good crack to beat him.

My training is consisting currently of a 20 minute cycle, I consistently am riding 10km in this time, followed by a 10 minute run running 5 minute kms. Today I increased the time running to 15 minutes keeping the same pace with tomorrow the aim being for 20 minutes at this pace. I would like to be able to work towards keeping a sub-5 minute km pace over an extended distance, I know this will take a bit of work and more attention to my diet.

The biggest hurdle to my achieving my best results is probably going to be related to sleep, particularly getting enough of it. I am still getting up at 5:15am every morning to exercise before work, however I haven’t been too disciplined with going to bed so far this year. This is starting to now make me feel that little more tired first thing in the morning and it’s harder to motivate myself to really push to my fullest capacity when at the gym.

There’s no time like the present to really get cracking!!!

Consistency is the Key to Success in the Long Term

Day 275 – Tuesday 30th September 2014 – Cardiovascular Session.

It’s been a long time since I have sat down to write a fitness update on how I am going in reaching my 2014 goals that I set out in “New Beginnings”. The year has proved to be a busy one and finding the time to sit down regularly and write about my fitness journey has proved challenging if not impossible on a regular basis. Having said this though, it has been pleasing to see me get into a good routine over the past eleven weeks of the year in completing cardio sessions.

Day 193_1I did have a troubled part of the year from mid-February through until the end of May, usually this would write me off for the remainder of the year, it is so difficult to get back into habit once you have lost it. I have been pleased that this hasn’t been the case, since the middle of July I have completed five cardio sessions almost every week, I have been rising at 5:15am and getting done a combination of riding, running and rowing with some abdominal work thrown in there over the past few weeks.  Since this date I have only missed four training days, this has always occurred as a result of me sleeping through my alarm clock in the morning (usually due to it not going off because of a flat battery).

In this time I have increased my average cycle distance from 10km in 20 minutes to averaging over 11km in 20 minutes with a personal best up at 11.5km. I have increased the work load adding in a 5 minute row on the ergo and a 10 minute run, the run is now slowly increasing in its intensity as well and I hope to be able to increase the length of this run in the coming weeks.

I did find that yesterday’s session is the headrest one that I have completed for a very long time due to the nature of it. The gym was closed until 9:00am with it being a public holiday in Perth, I know my weaknesses and that I would not complete any exercise if it wasn’t done early so I decided to go for a run. This is the first outdoor run of any distance that I have completed for a long time, and I didn’t hold back as I completed 10km inside 50 minutes. My legs started to burn towards the end of it, and I knew that they’d be sore later but I didn’t mind as it was quite an achievement for myself.

Today has been difficult, my legs are so sore and the session this morning at the gym I had to take easy due to fatigue. I did manage to complete my 20 minutes on the bike, riding only 9.8km, a 5 minute ergo and 10 minute run before spending a decent amount of time stretching out some sore and tired muscles.

I really enjoyed my run, moving forward I think I will need to incorporate one longer run a week into my program. I don’t overly want to drop a gym session so it might mean moving to a six day a week program. My program will need to change in the next week as I try to restart my weights program, there’s been very little of this done so far this year…things are about to get a bit more painful.

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