General

Minor Changes in Availability of Arrangements

There have been some alternating rumbles of excitement and disappointment in the arranging community over the last year or two over a programme developed by Sheet Music Plus in collaboration with Hal Leonard. They have produced a list of about 1000 songs pre-approved for arranging, so long as you publish the arrangements through SMP. Anyone who has to grapple with the bureaucracy of copyright permissions for new arrangements finds their ears perking up when they hear of it.

The disappointment arrives when you realise that one of the excluded ensembles is choral. I’d been round that loop a couple of times when my friend Debi Cox had the bright idea of actually contacting them with a query, and established that while they don’t know when they’ll be able to add choral arrangements to the list, they are able to accept arrangements for chamber-sized, one-a-part a cappella groups such as barbershop quartets and contemporary a cappella ensembles, up to 8 parts.

Hurrah!...However…

New Feature: Availability Calendar

availabilityJanuary is one of the points in the year when I seem to spend a lot of time responding to emails enquiring when I am available for coaching and workshop bookings. And I spend a lot of it living with a mild background anxiety that, once I've told various groups which dates are free, and they've gone back to consult with their members, they're all going to come back and ask for the same day.

The obvious solution to this, and one which it has only taken me 7 years to think of, is to publish which dates are possible so people can consult amongst themselves before getting in touch to book. At the least, this will save us all a cycle of email toing and froing, and at best it will prevent disappointment when somebody snaffles your preferred date first.

Happy Holidays!

ChristmasCandlesOne of the things I find difficult to get my head round these fractious political days is how people can take offence at being wished 'Happy Holidays'. It seems a cheerful and emotionally uncomplicated message, which has needlessly acquired uncheerful and contentious baggage. Merry Christmas is another pleasant greeting, as is Happy Hanukkah. If people are worried about not mentioning which religious festival they're celebrating, why is Season's Greetings not equally suspect? It all seems so strange and arbitrary.

Living in a culturally varied city, as I do, I enjoy opportunities for mutual goodwill at various points throughout the year: Diwali, Eid, Chinese New Year are all focus of public celebration.

Choral Conducting Book Video Clips Now Available Online

Choral Conducting book coverAs I reported recently, both my books have been reissued in paperback. This is great news for anyone who was interested in them but put off by the cost of academic hardcovers.

However, the new print run hasn't included the DVD that accompanied the original publication of the second book, the one on choral conducting. This included footage of four conductors in action, each working in a different choral tradition, and formed the primary material for the detailed discussions in Part III of the book.

In order that new purchasers don't have to miss out on the full experience, I have uploaded all the clips to a youtube playlist. I have left this unlisted - so you can't just find it by searching - as the original filming was done for the purpose of accompanying the book, not general distribution. But I'll be more than happy to send a link to the playlist to anyone who has bought the book and doesn't have access to the video clips - just drop me an email to ask.

Look! Look! Book! Book!

Paperbacks: though without the lovely cover pic on the barbershop one...Paperbacks: though without the lovely cover pic on the barbershop one...

The repetition in my title is for two reasons. First, because *both* of my books are now out in paperback. And second, because this was a surprise to me. The copies just arrived by post, without any prior communication from the publishers.

But a very pleasant surprise, I have to say. Both books came out originally in hardback, produced by an academic publisher which mostly focused on specialised material printed in small numbers and marketed primarily to libraries. As as an academic reader, this seemed perfectly normal to me. Most of my reading of specialist material takes place in (or from) libraries too. They are very useful amenities.

Brief hiatus...

Just to let you know not to expect new blog posts for a couple of weeks. My attention is going to be on other things for a goodly chunk of August, and I am taking the opportunity for a proper digital detox while I'm at it.

Normal service will resume later in the month. I'm reasonably confident that you won't run out of stuff to browse in my archives in the meantime...

On Bullies, Power, and Politicians

bullying_catSome years ago I was walking in the park and met a group of children from a local nursery. One of them looked me in the eye and said, ‘You are wee-wee and poo-poo’. I confess I did not have an adequate reply to this; I was struck dumb by a combination of surprise to be so accosted, and the dawning revelations that followed on the nature of insults and their function in human relationships. The impasse was broken by one of the nursery staff who remarked, accurately, ‘That’s not very nice, Leon,’ and led him away.

Forgive me if I write a post that looks rather political, and therefore off-topic. Though it’s really about trying to understand human beings, and to process some things I’ve learned through the process of the UK’s recent general election. Helping us harmonise in the wider sense, so to speak.

Seasonal Harmonious Wishes

mulled_wineAs is my wont at this time of year, dear reader, I am going to neglect you for a week or so while I go off and do holiday-season things with Real Life People. I imagine you are doing exactly the same, so I hope you won’t feel too abandoned. Indeed, I hope you are feeling snug and loved-up (Northern hemisphere)/ carefree and summery (Southern hemisphere) with geographically-appropriate seasonal joys.

I wrote back in January about goal-setting, and found myself framing my aspirations for 2014 in terms of the qualities of experience I wished it to contain rather than a concrete to-do list. And I guess now is a good moment to check back in and see how that worked.

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