Tuesday 29 September 2009

Holy Michael Archangel

Saint Michael the Archangel,defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -by the Divine Power of God -cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Sunday 27 September 2009

St John Vianney

pray for us.

RH Benson Coincidences

This am after Mass I was having a chat with someone who mentioned a book by RH Benson; 'Come Rack! Come Rope.'

This pm I bumped into someone I have only met once properly who remembered (when I had forgotten) that I had expressed an interest in this book and she handed it to me wrapped in a jiffy bag.

Better read it!

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Sunday 20 September 2009

Elgar Serenade second movement


Thank you

to everyone/anyone who prayed for my Aunt.

She is getting on very well - out of bed in her own clothes and judging by the photo my uncle emailed us looking a very healthy colour.

Not bad for someone who was in intensive care on Thurs.

Friday 18 September 2009


As a Catholic and a musician, you would think that I had an idea of practising and I do, but the music practice bit is hard to keep up when you are out at work all day.

Tomorrow I play Borodin 2 all day. I've never heard it and I calculate that that I my not have picked up my horn since the Parish Music Evening. I'm hoping it's not a big blow. Or as my ever blunt section principal would put it 'a serious smack in the gob.' It can't be that hard. Horn player knowledge tells me there is a solo in there somewhere, but I'd know if it was for horn 2 (me), so I shall be safe.

Time to test my powers of concentration.... I hope my valves haven't seized up...
Ho hum.

On teaching smaller people

My school has two year 6 classes (10-11) before the other seven years and I am teaching one for the first time this year. They are very cute and apart from having tendencies towards putting their hands up to tell me random facts, are great. It does take a while to get stuff done, because I'm aware that they are more fragile than year 7 and so my usual snappy manner could cause distress and so I find myself having to wait whilst 6 boys regail us with their story every time I ask a question.

Anyway, we have this song which we do at the start of the year and we have to do major and minor, so to demonstrate I played it in Emin instead of E maj and they thought it sounded very melancholy and infact better. I left in a few augmented 2nds so it had a slight East European tinge too. As a naughty treat, we sang the first verse in E min and they went for it and it sounded really heart rending, sniff, so I suggeted (obviously in a teachery, this IS what we are going to do kinda way,) that we ended with verse 2 in E maj to cheer ourselves up!

I used to demonstrate the difference bewteen major and minor by playing Xmas Carols in different keys. We three kings is great when you make the verse major and the chorus minor! Musical vandalism in the class room.

So far, there seem to be some very interested boys in the exam classes and we staggered through the Elgar Serenade on Mon am, so the concert should be fine. 12 weeks til Xmas....

Tuesday 15 September 2009

To B or not to B

Played new AS boy the set works today, so he knows what we're up against. The reason we did that and not something a little more meaty, will remain obscure.

Anyway, after we'd listened to the three movements of Bach's Orchestral Suite No3 that he has to do, I asked him what he thought and he said he didn't like the B natural in the last phrase of the violin I part of the Air. Nothing specific then. After a discussion about why that note weakened the approach to the cadence despite being in a weak place in the bar, though in a syncopated rhythm and why the melody might fall to that note and having contrasted it with three bars previously where it's all very chromatic etc, whilst taking in the fact that Bach must have intended that effect, we decided that it was to make the beginning of the next movement go with a bang. He's right that it is a rather abrupt ending, all things considered.

Usually, when you ask boys for a rection, they say something vague about whether they like it or not and we move on swiftly to stuff they need to learn.

Sunday 13 September 2009

Brian Keenan

has just written an autobiography.

Sounds good.

Please pray

for my Aunt who will be having a heart operation on Wed.

Hopefully, she is presently listening to R3 as she likes Beethoven fifth pno conc a lot and it's taking her mind off things.

R3 Post Proms

can be a bit flat, especially as Sunday night is traditionally weirdo radio play night on the Third Programme, in my mind at least. Just as Sat pm is World Music(s) followed by Jazz and I have trained myself to leave it on in the interests of education and improvement.

Anyway, today they are playing the concerto finals of the Leeds International Piano Competition and three of the finalists chose Beethoven (another Catholic, yup, one trick pony me,) Fifth Piano Concerto, The Emperor. Fine by me.

Reminds me of the same competition when I was at school and everyone chose the Schumann Piano Concerto. Kept switching the radio on during the evening and getting the same piece. Tough on the orchestra. The next day I was in Schott's a music publisher/shop in London, (though yes I think the main office is Mainz, if we want to get fussy,) and the lady on the front desk was singing the last movement!

Another new vocation

Yesterday, I was again invited to the house of the Lovely Catholic Family round the corner to a birthday party. In fact, I even got an early invite to spend time with the deep fat fryer and fry up various veggies into crisps, (one who is tired of deep fried parsnips is tired of life,) whilst the garden had been transformed into a party venue with a gazebo, tables, chairs etc. The weather was utterly perfect for Sept; warm, with a breeze right through the afternoon. The garden looked beautiful and I would have loved to play in it as a child.

Anyway, the birthday man, for now he is 21, had I hope, an excellent day. Certainly all the guests were having a very enjoyable time. Some climbed trees, some played with a guinea pig and some just chatted to each other, all whilst eating lovely food. (I was in the latter category, to be fair.)

As often happens in these parts, people squint at me, thinking we probably have met before and then I suggest that maybe I taught some of their children. Fortunately, it's always the parents of the children who you have plenty of good things to rhapsodise about, not the ones in Leutgeb's multi volume black book of 'teaching incidents I try to forget.' Moving swiftly on and getting to the point, someone I used to teach has entered a seminary for an order, not in this country, aged 19 and there he was in picture, beaming in a cassock. Believe me, when you get a list of leavers' destinations - university, apprenticeship, work, seminary/noviciate is not one of the boxes with a number in it. It's not even a box.

Friday 11 September 2009

Impending tardiness

is my favourite phrase of the moment.

Spent another two lessons reading university application personal statements and gratifyingly one member of the form stayed up most of the night finishing a book so that he can write about it. I am minded to put that into the reference. He has got hold of the first year reading list and is reading through it and was complaining that the postal strike means that some of the books have not yet arrived.

The other boy has also read a lot so when I asked him what else he had read by Oscar Wilde apart from, 'The Picture of Dorian Gray, ' he rattled off a whole pile of stuff.

Now I must attend to me picture in the attic... after this week it's looking a little tired.

Thursday 10 September 2009

Trying to say the right thing

Spent much of this week talking to the Year 13 part of my form about the great unknown that is next year.

My favourite question is, 'What do your parents think?'

The ones who have to have the application in early are getting it together, the others have a little time. It's all sooner than they would like.

At the other end of the spectrum, I am for the first time reaching Year 6, who are, as yet very cute, but ask squillions of questions. They do at least wait their turn before telling you random facts. No-one left his bag, PE kit, lunch card, blazer in the room, so no tears so far. I just have to remain in gentle primary teacher mode and all will be well.

Monday 7 September 2009

Mahler 10

was the soundtrack of the disater that was my U6th year at school.

I listened to it so many times that I nearly wore out my friend's tape and she was forced to buy me a recording as a present when I went to university.

When I arrived, I discoverd the score in the library, copied out the first page and sent it to her. I bought the same friend the score for her 21st birthday.

Mahler never finished the symphony, but he had sketched most of it in short score by the time of his death and Deryck Cooke completed it in the 60s and then revised it in the early 70s.

The Adagio first mvt sometimes gets played alone, but the whole symphony rarely gets an outing. Tonight is one such occasion, at the Proms with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.

PS To the people who say that Mahler only converted to Catholicism to get the job at the Vienna State Opera, I say listen to the 8th symphony.

Thursday 3 September 2009

Leutgeb eats her greens

In between wowing the visiting schola on Tues with her Liber Usualis, TCD (The Choir Director, not Trinity College Dublin) from Brighton had a guided tour of my allotment. Having nurtured my kale from seed, it's looking quite perky, but not curly. I was waiting for curliness to set in but was informed, 'it's not that type.'

Dodging showers today, I was able to dash round, pick some any enjoy it for tea.

The kale comes via The real seed company, who save seed and then put it into little packets for you to plant. The kale comes originally from Sutherland, but is coping well with the tropics in the garden of England. Interestingly, listed amongst their seed providers is a sister from St Caecilia's Ryde.

PS When allotmenteers bore you going on about how fresh their food is, what they mean is that things like kale start wilting as soon as you pick them, so the ground to table time has to be short.

Wednesday 2 September 2009

Front or back?

Through a window, I caught a glimpse of the benches inside the Church the other day, just before Mass was about to begin and the Church appeared empty, which seemed really weird. When I got into the Church, of course, it was just that the congregation were polarised. Nothing to worry about, just some people go for the front and some the back.

Given a choice I go for the back.

So, without one of those handy poll things, where do you prefer to be in the Church?

Tuesday 1 September 2009

La Rentree

is just around the corner and this is the time of year when I get stuff organised at home.

So I've tidied the back garden and filled the brown bin with stuff, made a year's supply of jam, taken my winter coat etc to the dry cleaners, signed up to be on the elctoral roll, *cough* finally got round to updating my Driving Licence and filled the freezer with homemade stuff that can be brought out when I need one of Leutgeb's ready meals. Homemade tomato sauce from me own toms and herbs. :-) Mm might knock up some liver and bacon too.

I love my ready meals on days when I need to eat homecooking, but have not the time to do homecooking. Basically when I need my dinner now!

On to filling a bag for the charity shop... and deep cleanse the house.

It all makes me feel prepared to face the relentless onslaught, I mean deeply fulfiling work, which is teaching.