On Bullies, Power, and Politicians

Some 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

As 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.

Testing the waters...

As long-term readers will know, for some years I ran a Mutual Mentoring Scheme for Arrangers. This initially emerged as the number of requests I was getting for help grew unmanageable, combined with a realisation about how much I had learned about arranging from helping others. I could have dealt with the first factor just by starting to charge for my time (which I also do if you are still interested in getting my help), but that wouldn't give everyone else the educational benefit of analysing other people's work in progress.

A Christmas Thank You


Like many choirs, Magenta has had a busy Christmas season, and I always find myself heading into the holiday replete with the satisfaction of how the ensemble consolidates the year’s achievements through this intensive period of activity. I am sure every director feels this wonderful mixture of gratitude and pride when plans come together and the hours of rehearsal translate into delight on the faces of those to whom we sing.

So my Christmas eve post this year is to say thank you. Specifically to the collection of people who form Magenta, and generally, on behalf of choir directors to the singers without whom we could not make music.

...And Thanks for All the Cake....

Just before the recent LABBS convention, I came to the decision that I would stand down from the role of barbershop contest judge at the end of 2013. I have told my judging colleagues, and I am choosing to tell you in my blog so that it won’t be too much of a surprise to you next time we meet at a barbershop event and I’m not on duty. With any luck we may even get to talk about something other than this when we next meet!

It is simply that I have been serving as a registered judge for 13 years and feel like that's enough for now, thank you.

You know how it is when somebody gives you a piece of cake, and you think, 'Ooh how exciting!' And then they offer you another piece, and you think, 'Lovely!' When they offer you a third piece, the cake is as nice as it ever was, but you're a bit less excited by it. Sensible people don't wait until they've stopped enjoying it to stop eating.

Back on-line now...

Many apologies for the service interruption over the last two days. The hosting company was subject to a Distributed Denial of Service attack, which brought the server down, then ran into hardware trouble before restoring all the files from an off-site back-up.

The good news is that ultimately this all proved successful. I am not happy with the service level, though, in that it should have been possible to get the site up and running from a different server while they rebuilt it. More than 48 hours off-line is not good at all.

These are details that should make no difference to your life whatsoever. I am as yet undecided as to whether I need to seek alternative hosting services (balancing up my dissatisfaction with recent events and the unknown risks of leaping from frying pan to fire). But I'm really hoping I won't have to write a post like this again any time soon.

Coaching and Workshop Bookings

If you have had a coaching session or workshop with me in the last two or three years, you will have recently received an email that says:

Hello there!

I am getting in touch with people I’ve worked with in recent times to make sure I can meet as many coaching/workshop needs as possible. I find I’m having to do a fair bit of diary juggling for the period from Easter 2013 right round to Easter 2014, and I’ll be able to fit in more groups if I can sort out dates for multiple people at once rather than booking people in on an ad hoc basis.

Happy Holidays!

Well, my friends, the festive gig season has rushed through in its usual heady fashion and we're galloping towards Christmas itself. I hope your various concerts, carol-singing jaunts and other seasonal performances have been going well, and that you are all set for the big day itself. I've often thought that 'holiday season' is a bit of a misnomer for musicians - but then again, if we weren't out singing, what would we do with ourselves?

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