A Celtic Blessing

Catalogue Number:
Voicing:

Publisher:
Difficulty Level:
Year of Publication:
Duration:
Availability:

G-7550
Unison Voices & Piano (or Organ)
GIA Publications, Inc.
E / 1
2009
2 minutes
In Print

Printed Copy: RRP $1.80

From the publisher’s website:

‘The much-loved benediction “May the road rise up to meet you…” is given a setting of beauty and simplicity that is a welcome addition to the versions that have come before. The accompaniment is effective, but not complex, and the piece may be sung as a solo if desired. There is an optional lower part at the end.’

Reviews

‘This short choral benediction is written with such an endearing melody that children as well as adults will sing it with their hearts. Unison throughout, with just a touch of harmony on the “Amen,” it is a simple-to-prepare worship moment that makes a very nice concert closer as well.’

JWPepper Inc. Editor’s Review, 2011

‘Lovely piece! This was just perfect for my Year 6s to learn for their Leavers’ Service. They learned it in a trice and it sounds gorgeous – simple but with enough interest, including the second part in the ‘Amen’. Highly recommended.’

Reviewer on SheetMusicPlus, June 2012

Potential Uses

Concert, Recital, Teaching, Competition, Festival, Exam, Worship, Blessing, Marriage, Wedding, Benediction, Children’s Choir, School, Anthem, Church


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Three Meditations

Three Meditations for organ, by Lichfield-based composer, David BartonCatalogue Number: WL620012, WL620013 & WL620014
Organ
Publisher: Wayne Leupold Editions, Inc.
Difficulty Level: 2-3
Year of Publication: 2007
Duration: 10 minutes
Availability: Back Copies Available

In The Organists Companion; May, July and September 2007

Printed Copy: RRP $9.95 per issue (three issues)
Order from Publisher

 

Contents:
1. Movement I
2. Movement II
3. Movement III

These medidations are useful for a wide range of uses. They can be used individually and as a set, and many have suitable cut-off points for communion use.

Potential Uses

Concert, Recital, Church, Worship, Easter, Holy Week, Passiontide, Good Friday, Remembrance, Communion, Eucharist

Reflective Interlude

Reflective Interlude for organ, by Lichfield-based composer, David BartonCatalogue Number: WL630008
Organ
Publisher: Wayne Leupold Editions, Inc.
Difficulty Level: 1-2
Year of Publication: 2008
Duration: 4 minutes
Availability: Back Copies Available

In The Keyboardist’s Year, January 2008

Printed Copy: RRP $9.95
Order from Publisher

 

A short interlude suitable for all manner of reflective occasions and concerts. It is scored for full organ or manuals only, and is equally playable on the piano.

Potential Uses

Concert, Recital, Church, Worship, Easter, Holy Week, Passiontide, Good Friday, Remembrance, Communion, Eucharist

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Five Fanfares

Five Fanfares for organ, by Lichfield-based composer, David BartonOrgan
Publisher: Fagus Music
Difficulty Level: 5-6
Year of Publication: 2005
Duration: 6 minutes
Availability: In Print

Printed Copy: RRP £8.00
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PDF Copy: RRP £6.00
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Contents:
1. Fanfare for a Celebration
2. Fanfare for a Festival
3. Fanfare for a Procession
4. Jubilant Fanfare
5. Christmas Fanfare

As well as short announcements or fanfares, these are also useful postludes.

Potential Uses

Concert, Recital, Church, Worship, Wedding, Christmas, Celebration, Processional

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Pastorale on ‘Bunessan’

Pastorale on Bunessan for organ by Lichfield-based composer David BartonCatalogue Number: LMPP0902
Organ
Publisher: Lighthouse Music Publications
Difficulty Level: 3-4
Year of Publication: 2009
Duration: 3 minutes
Availability: In Print

Printed Copy: RRP $5.50
Order from Publisher

The tune “Bunessan” is most closely associated with the hymn “Morning Has Broken”, however, this Pastorale was written for harvest services in reference to the other set of words “Praise and Thanksgiving” which also now appear in many hymnbooks.  It will serve well for pre-service music or a reflective postlude, and is suitable for many occasions in the church year.

Potential Uses

Concert, Recital, Church, Worship, Harvest, Morning, Children

Festal Postlude on ‘Angel Voices’

Festal Postlude on Angel Voices for Organ, by Lichfield-based composer, David BartonCatalogue Number: LMPP0901
Organ
Publisher: Lighthouse Music Publications
Difficulty Level: 8+
Year of Publication: 2009
Duration: 4 minutes
Availability: In Print

Printed Copy: RRP $6.50
Order from Publisher

 

This piece, written in the style of Widor and Guilmant makes effective use of the French style of writing, with the tune in the pedal, accompanied by chordal figuration on the manuals. The use of the popular tune, now mostly associated with the hymn ‘Angel Voices, Ever Singing’ would make a useful addition to both the liturgical and concert repertoire.

Potential Uses

Concert, Recital, Church, Worship

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On the Box: 8 Pieces on a Television Theme

On the Box for Flute and Piano by Lichfield-based composer, David BartonCatalogue Number: DBM1114
Flute & Piano
Publisher: David Barton Music
Difficulty Level: 2-5
Year of Publication: 2011
Duration: 9 minutes

Availability: Out of Print

Contact for more information.

Contents:
1. News Beat
2. Nature Walks
3. Comedy Captures
4. Tearjerker
5. Beat the Clock
6. Cottage Gardens
7. Toys on the Move
8. Daytime Viewing

These pieces arose from the composer’s interest in Library Music and music for television. News Beat  brings us the news with a sense of urgency, while Nature Walks takes us on a stroll in the countryside. Comedy Captures provides a sense of light relief, while romance doesn’t seem to be blossoming in Tearjerker. Time can run out too quickly if you can’t Beat the Clock, then daytime programmes continue with a trip to the potting shed in Cottage Gardens. Don’t forget that there’s fun for youngsters in Toys on the Move, which is followed by lifestyle, discussion, cookery and antiques in Daytime Viewing. A set of fun and varied pieces for the whole family’s entertainment.

Potential Uses

Concert, Recital, Teaching, Competition, Festival, Exam

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Sight-reading doesn’t have to be stressful…

Sight-reading doesn't have to be stressful…
Pupil playing pianoMention ‘sight-reading’, and many musicians can already be seen running for the nearest exit. Over the years, two distinct sorts of sight-reading appear to have emerged: firstly, there’s sight-reading (i.e. playing a piece you’ve never seen before) and sight-reading (i.e. a test in a music exam).

In the same way as the term ‘practice’ now conjures up negative images, so sight-reading has begun to suffer the same fate. We once had an ABRSM examiner who called it ‘fright-reading’. In general terms, the two sorts of sight-reading mentioned above are actually no different. It is fair to say that one probably happens under more stressful conditions, but the underlying principle is exactly the same. So, whatever form it takes, how can we make sight-reading less stressful?

Every time you learn a piece of music, you’re sight-reading. That’s right, every new piece that’s been put in front of you will have required some form of sight-reading. It’s something that many musicians do on a daily basis. My flute, piano and singing pupils who I teach here in Lichfield often tell me that sight-reading in exams is stressful because you haven’t got very long to look at the music. I’m sure they feel they have a valid point, but my experience is that when you give them something to sight-read which isn’t identified as a sight-reading ‘test’, they spend less time looking at it than they do with the 30 seconds allotted for an exam.

As soon as you come across a new piece (whether it’s for sight-reading or sight-reading), there are going to be some things which are worth looking at: key signature, time signature, tempo etc. Remember that game you might have played once where you had to look at things on a tray which were then covered up and you had to write down all the things you could remember? Have you tried it with a piece of music? Try looking at it for 30 seconds then cover it up – how many different things can you remember? I’m sure you’ll surprise yourself.

Let’s be clear: sight-reading a piece is very rarely going to produce a perfect rendition first time. Personally (and I’m sure examiners would too), I’d rather listen to a rendition which keeps going and gives me a general outline of what’s going on, rather than a painfully slow performance where the player tries to work out every single note and rhythm one at a time. After you’ve looked at the ‘basics’, have a quick skim through the rest of the music. Importantly, can you recognise any repetition or patterns? Learners are often surprised to discover that a good amount of sight-reading tests are made up almost entirely of both these. Can you see any scales, arpeggios, sequences etc.

This applies mainly to pianists, but it may apply to other instruments too, do remember to check what position your hands need to be in: you can play all the right fingering, but if your hands aren’t in the right place, then I’m afraid none of the notes will actually be right.

What’s the most important thing about sight-reading? For me, it is to keep going. I’m forever telling my pupils to keep going if they make a mistake; many hope that by going back and correcting their mistake, this somehow cancels it out: it doesn’t! For exam candidates, I’m pretty sure you lose more marks by stopping and correcting errors than you would for making the mistake in the first place!

It is true that in an exam situation, time is limited. Once you’ve checked the basics, try the beginning and the end; if there’s time, try any other tricky passages. If you’ve worked out there’s a pattern, try this too – there is plenty of time if you use it effectively. Examiners are now expected to not only tell you you’ve got 30 seconds or half a minute to look at the test, but also that you can try out any bits you want to. To me, this is a fundamental point, and I look at it like this: Candidate A looks at the test for 30 seconds but doesn’t play anything; when they come to perform it, it’s a disaster. Candidate B looks at the test for 30 seconds and tries some bits out; when they come to perform it, it’s also a disaster…which candidate will get the higher mark? So much of sight-reading is in the approach. Candidate B showed they approached the test in the right way: Candidate A chose not to. The higher of the marks seems obvious to me.

Next time you’re doing either sight-reading or sight-reading, think about the process you’re going through. As you progress, you’ll get to know your strengths and weaknesses and this will enable you to best use any preparation time. Above all, keep going (my pupils tell me they hear me saying this in their sleep!).

 

 

 

How to Choose a Music Teacher

How To Choose a Music Teacher
Piano lesson in progressOne of the questions which comes up so often, not just amongst parents but amongst adult pupils too, is how do you go about finding a teacher? Surprisingly, even as a flute, piano and singing teacher here in Lichfield, I’ve had to find teachers for myself at various intervals. Here are some suggestions to get you started…

Where do I look for a teacher?

The best way to find a music teacher for you or your child is through personal recommendation. Maybe you already know someone who’s learning, and if not, ask around friends and relatives. Around 50% of my enquiries come through this method. Failing this, try the internet. A simple Google search will often yield results, either because teachers have their own websites as I do, or because their details are given on listings sites. Occasionally, if you have a local music shop, they might keep a list (some are selective though, and not always for the right reasons!), and in the past libraries often did the same. When I’ve been looking for teachers, I like to be able to read a bit about them and their teaching – personally, and possibly quite wrongly, I tend to ignore the sort of one-line name and telephone number sort of adverts these days. On my own website, I try to give as much information as I can about me and my teaching: in the end though, you can’t please everyone!

How do I choose a teacher?

The first thing is to think about is what you want from your or your child’s teacher. For example, you may have particular time or location requirements; you might want to focus on a particular sort of music; you might want a teacher who offers performance opportunities; or you might want a teacher who is skilled with a particular group of learners. Make a list of these things: it’s a big commitment, and it’s worth doing as much research as possible. This will hopefully help narrow it down.

What is a ‘good’ teacher?

How long is a piece of string? A good teacher for one person is not a good teacher for another: learning an instrument or learning to sing is a very personal thing and not all personalities ‘gel’ in the same way. You can look for qualifications, but these are in no way a guarantee of success. You’ll need to think about each teacher individually: how to they present themselves? Do they have the skills and experience you’re looking for? Do they show an interest in and enthusiasm for music and teaching? What do past/current pupils/parents say about them? Do you like the sound of them (there’s a lot to be said for trusting instinct too)? What things matter to you about a teacher? I fear that no teacher is perfect, so at one time or another, you may have to make some compromises, at least when you’re searching, otherwise it’s easy to discount all of them!

How to make contact?

Making contact with a prospective teacher is often the hardest part of the whole process. When you contact them, make sure you have any questions to hand; think about the things you want/need to know and find out. Gather as much information as you can: I sometimes wish people would ask me more questions! It is useful if you have an idea of your or your child’s availability too; sometimes teachers just won’t be able to meet these and it’s best to establish this early on.

Girl playing the fluteWhere to go from there?

Some teachers offer an interview lesson, some offer a consultation lesson, and some offer a trial lesson. To my mind, these are all much the same thing. I offer a one-off consultation lesson which is an opportunity to have a chat, and for me to give the pupil a taster of what having flute, piano or singing lessons might be like – there is no obligation to continue after this, though most do. I think it’s important that pupils and parents have the opportunity to meet face-to-face: e-mail and telephone is one thing, but they are no substitute for meeting a prospective teacher in person. Again, have a think about what you’d like to know before you go. Not all teachers offer a consultation lesson and some will expect you to sign up there and then – I’m afraid that with these, despite all your research, there’s an element of chance. Personally, I think that taking lessons is often a big commitment both in time and money, so an initial meeting is important.

What if it doesn’t work out?

I’d like to say that if it doesn’t work out, there are plenty more fish in the sea, but this isn’t always the case. Have a think about what you didn’t like: what was wrong with them? Have a think about the things you liked too! If there are plenty of other teachers locally, then you might be able to work your way around until you find one that fits. This isn’t always the case, and as I said earlier, there may well be an element of compromise. Another thing to think about is that a pupil-teacher-parent-relationship is something which will build up over time; don’t expect everything to be spot-on first time!

Good luck with your search! And…if you’re in Lichfield, Tamworth, Rugeley, Shenstone, Sutton Coldfield, Four Oaks or any of the other surrounding places, I offer flute, piano and singing tuition for both adults and children – you can find some more information here.

Help! I’ve got an audition…

Help! I've got an audition…
Girl singing music theatre or classicalI quite often get enquiries from people who need help preparing for an audition; indeed, several of my own singing pupils have needed help along the way too. For some people, it can be an audition for a local amateur dramatic production, but for many, it’s an audition onto an acting or dance course.

Dancers and actors are often surprised to find that many universities and colleges require them to sing at their audition, but it is now reasonably common practice. The most important thing to remember about auditions is that you only have a very limited space of time to show as many skills as possible.

So, how can you get the most out of your audition?

Prepare early…

If you know you’re going to be auditioning for an acting or dance course, find out as soon as you can whether you’ll be expected to sing at your audition. Preferably, find out soon enough that if necessary, you can get some singing lessons in time. A year of lessons before your audition can make a world of difference to your confidence and success. If you’re not able to find out early on, as soon as the information arrives about your audition, check up what you’re going to need to do. If you’re not already having singing lessons, now is the time to book some; a lot can still be achieved in a short space of time.

Know what’s expected…

If you need to sing at your audition, find out as soon as possible what’s expected. What type of song do you need? What level does it need to be at? Is there a time restriction? What skills do you need to show? Who will accompany you?

Choosing a song…

Once you know what’s expected, you can make a better-informed choice about which song to sing. To my mind, there are really two things you need to balance when choosing a song: (1) Something which demonstrates the necessary skills you need to show, and (2) Something which you like and are confident singing. An audition is not necessarily the time to choose something complicated which is really beyond the level you’re at. A lot of people auditioning for dance and drama courses are not singers: it is best to stick to something relatively simple and do it well. You will almost certainly need to obtain the sheet music for your song (a full version, not a lead sheet or chord symbols). If you can get some singing lessons in early enough, your teacher will of couse be able to advise on which songs might be a good choice.

Should I choose a song no one else will do…

Ultimately, this is an impossible question to answer! Quite often people arrive for their few lessons before the audition with a song which has been given to them by someone who’s said “Do this one because no one else will”. To some extent, it is true that audition panels tend to hear the same few songs over and over again, but overall, stick with what you’re confident with. If you’ve got the time and ability to learn something which is outside the box, that’s great: if not, that’s not a problem – giving a confident and well-prepared performance is more important in my view.

Preparing your song…

A lot of people are used to singing along to backing tracks. They normally get a shock when they read their audition papers to find that the venue will provide a piano accompanist. If you’re used to backing tracks, singing to the piano can be a new experience! If you’re going to book some lessons with a singing teacher to prepare for your audition, it is highly preferable that they be able to accompany you on the piano so that you get a clear idea how it’s going to be on the day. Ask them to record your song too so that you can practise it at home.

What are they looking for…

On the whole, each place will be looking for something different, but generally, asking you to sing is a good way of ‘putting you on the spot’; it is a good test of your confidence under pressure, asking you to do something which you’re perhaps not as comfortable with as dancing or singing. Overall, they’re not looking for a ‘finished product’ (they’re not looking to ‘show you up’ either!). The ability to sing in tune and to hold your line against the piano accompaniment is probably expected; being able to show character (particularly if it’s an acting course) and variety is very important: remember, you have just a few minutes to show as many skills as you can. Overall, I think that panels are looking for committment. They’re looking for you to perform as well as possible under pressure; it is always clear on these occasions which performers have put the effort into their preparation and which haven’t: don’t be one of the latter because it shows and it will colour their judgement.

Whatever your audition, be prepared! Don’t leave things until the last minute and if at all possible, get some lessons with a teacher who can help you get the best out of the experience. I’ve worked with a lot of singers preparing for auditions and am quite happy to provide a one-off or short series of lessons here in Lichfield to help you prepare.

If you think you’d like to make a career in the performing arts, then start some singing lessons as soon as possible – they’re a good investment!