Inside A Musical Mind – Part 2

Part  2- A Tragic Turn

The 1973 Chilean coup d’état was a watershed event in both the history of Chile and the Cold War. What followed was an extended period of social and political unrest between the center-right dominated Congress of Chile and the elected socialist President Salvador Allende, as well as economic warfare ordered by US President Richard Nixon. Allende was overthrown by the armed forces and national police. All hell broke out in Chile which meant a much needed diversion and reprieve for me. This horrendous up-rising allowed the Cavalo family to seek asylum in the UK and most importantly of all, the addition of another scared, small, brown boy to Wordsworth First School. I was off the hook!

Jose could run and I mean really run and he could fight like his life depended on the outcome which it had, back home. However, Jose could not speak a word of English. Now, I had never been any further than Devon at this point and the only Spanish I knew was Sombrero so the obvious answer was to put us together ‘cos we were both a bit odd. To my delight, in 1974-75, Wordsworth First School belonged to Jose and I. As it turned out, my new found ally could provide the necessary muscle and I the brains to ensure both our safety, domination of the playground, dressing up corner
and Mrs Goodwin’s undivided attention.

First day at Wordsworth First School, 1972

Sadly, all good things come to an end and by the Autumn it was clear that Jose and I would not be going to the same Middle school in the September of ’75. In fact, after a glorious summer of playing out doors when all the white children had to hide from the sun, I only saw Jose briefly again as teenagers when it was clear his life had taken a very different path to mine and he was entwined with grief, pain, miss-understanding and crime. The last I knew of Jose’s life was from the local newspaper. “18 year old Jose Cavalo paralysed from the neck down after crashing a stolen car.”

By Roger Moisan


Read Part 1

Music As Communication – An Indian Perspective

Ankur Biplav, Indian Musician
By Ankur Biplav
Music is that medium of communication which provides a way by which people can share emotions, intentions, and meanings. Music can exert powerful physical and behavioural effects which can produce deep emotions within us. It can generate a sense of peace and happiness within a person. Music be it vocal or instrumental has a deep impact on the human body.
Playing an instrument is a way to express and communicate our thoughts and feelings. In Indian music where ragas are the whole and soul of the music, Indian musical instruments conveyed the essence of raga without the use of lyrics. The beauty of Indian music is that it is an unusual combination of technique, structure and improvisation. So, even the person playing some instrument can communicate a lot of things to the audience through its playing of a particular instrument. Every instrumentalist, specially in India has a distinct style of playing the notes.
Some instruments like sarangi and violin are considered to be the closest to the vocals of a singer. Instruments like flute and sehnnai have effectively communicated the sweetness and richness of a particular raaga or the song. If one listens to Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia or Ustaad Bismillah Khan, its sure one won’t miss the vocals. Their instruments are sufficient to take the audience into a journey of melody and peace.
A Sarangi Player
 In Indian Music concerts specially in instrumental music concerts, I will regard the audience as the “consumers.” The quality of performance is dependent on the quality of the audience participation in this manner. It is definitely a two-way communication, where the performer and the audience share a symbiotic and mutually beneficial relationship. That is why, I regarded audience as the consumers.  The instrumentalist attracts more audience then a vocal musician because in vocal music their is a barrier of language. For example- a person who does not understand Hindi may not be interested in Indian Vocal Music but that person may be interested in instrumental music because it does not include any language.  When our Indian instrumentalists tour different countries for the concerts, its not just they go and play a particular raga but its like communicating the Indian culture through their instruments.
To conclude, instrument playing is an effective way of communicating one’s emotions and thoughts to the audience.If one listens to Ustaad Amjad Ali Khan’s Raag Malhar one could feel the pouring of rains beside him/her. Its not just the case with Ustaad Amjad Ali Khan’s sarod but if one listens to anyone of that level one can get the true feel and essence of the raga/song.

Musical Success

If you’re reading this article for answers, I don’t have any. I’m simply writing about goals I’ve had musically and how they were achieved. The definition of success has several iterations. The one I like the most is “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” Using this, success can be whatever your heart desires at any level. This makes sense to me.

Many times, when we set goals, we go big. I’ve done this so often it’s not even funny. The main problem I have with this is when I try and take on the world, I set myself up for failure, as there are too many components that need to be achieved for success. By breaking the big picture down into smaller goals, the mark for success is easier to accomplish. I’m not saying the task itself will be easy, but better than taking on the whole. This approach can be useful in life as well.

When I first started playing guitar, the only goal I had was to play on stage. At the age of 14 my aspirations were not about getting better as a musician, I didn’t have the mental capacity to think that way. It was to follow in the footsteps of my guitar heroes. In 1987, at the age of 19, I achieved this goal, playing in a cover band. I’m 49 now and still remember it vividly.

First off, I was terrified. Playing in front of people?! Not the place for an introvert. However, the music started and I got lost in what I was playing. I had never dealt with stage monitors or doing sound checks. I was amazed at how “quiet” it was on stage compared to being in front of the blasting PA. We did a very heavy cover of BTO’s “Taking Care of Business.” There weren’t many people at the show, maybe 20-30. However, I remember the drinks on the tables near the stage shaking, like an earthquake. That was one of the coolest things I had ever seen. However, even though I had achieved my goal of playing on stage, it didn’t feel right.

Fast forward a few decades to the age of 47. My first gig with an original band. I wasn’t an introvert anymore having gotten used to lecturing all over the country in my previous career. However, I was jumping up and down, trying to subdue the anxiety and butterflies in my stomach. Even though I had been on stage before, it was not at this high a level. I was lucky that I considered my bandmates friends and there was comfort in that knowledge. They were all seasoned professional musicians having played their instruments even longer than I. We hit the stage and played without a problem. In fact, the owner of the club approached us after and was amazed to find out we had only been together for two weeks. He said we played as if we’d been together for years.

I did feel a measure of success from that show. Actually, every time we play, even at practice, there is success. However, my dream/goal wasn’t truly realized until this past June. We were playing a benefit concert for ovarian cancer. My mom had died from this disease and I had decided to use the first guitar I ever owned for the show. It was surreal playing my 1984 Aria Pro II ZZ Deluxe that I bought when I was 16. I got off stage and my heart was pounding, my head was in a fog, I had to walk it off. I was nearly crying from the emotion running through my system. That was the moment I had dreamed about when I was 14. Many in attendance told me they saw something special happen on stage that night, truly inspirational.

I still have musical goals. I want to get better as a musician, not just a guitarist. I’d like to get back in the studio to record a full-length album; play on a big stage with a famous act; and so on. All of these goals need to be broken up into simple components to become achievable. It will happen in time with proper planning and support.

Success is a state of mind. To me it’s not about the money or being adored by millions, we’re not, yet. One of my biggest successes is realizing every time I pick up the guitar and play, I’m doing something very rare in this world. Not many people can do what we musicians do. When I put down the guitar after practice or a gig, etc. and realize I’m doing something very unique and fulfilling – that is success.

-Scott Duncan – MU Columnist

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Music education books to inspire. 2017-18 UK

Learning Strategies for Musical Success (2nd edition) demonstrates how the quantity and quality of practice is the greatest predictor of musical success, so that aspiring musicians of all ages and abilities can best bring about expert performance.

This inspiring, accessible guide will equip students, teachers, and parents with the methods and mindset to improve the likelihood of learning music successfully.

Superb reviews, available at Amazon in paperback or Kindle, or Alfred Music.

Bumblebee! Rounds & Warm-ups for Choirs.

More than just a collection of 130 choir exercises.  Timeless wisdom to help you get your choir into shape.

“An excellent publication, fun and varied. I have many different books with warm ups, but this is definitely my favourite.” – Sandra, UK

Available Amazon stores J.W. Pepper or Alfred Music.

Developing Musical Skill – for Students is a student guide for improving the quality of musical practice.

An original medley of timeless wisdom, evidence-based strategies and encouragement, Developing Musical Skill offers invaluable insight on the essentials of reaching musical excellence that are within anyone’s grasp if they possess the correct perspective and the correct way to practice.

Developing Musical Skill is guided by the philosophy that achievement in music, and indeed most other pursuits, is largely a result of intrinsic belief mindsets coupled with the quantity and quality of practice. By creating the optimal circumstances to retain and further accomplishment, any student can further their skills and abilities dramatically.

“A really great book! Well organized, clear and concise. I will be recommending it to my students.” – David Coleman, OHIO USA

Amazon or Alfred Music.

Modern Harmony Method: Fundamentals of Jazz and Popular Harmony is a clear and well organised text is suitable for students of harmony, arranging and composition, and for classically trained musicians wishing to further grasp the simple logic of jazz harmony.

Included in the 116 pages are comprehensive explanations, examples, exercises, and solutions. For school students, the course can be started in year 9 and worked through to year 13. The exercises and solutions are available separately as Sibelius files.

Amazon or Alfred Music.

Children and Learning provides guidance on how to support children’s education and all-round development. It includes clear explanations on the most effective and important strategies for cultivating self-determined, life-long learners.

Parents are disadvantaged in that they are mostly unaware of the teaching expertise of those in charge of their children’s education. This book concentrates on a few select fundamentals for reaching success. Essentially, this entails a can-do mindset, an understanding of the mechanics of how learning occurs –  and the time it takes, and the development of character traits such as commitment and perseverance. Amazon.

The Music and Keyboard series is for KS3 general music classes. Students work at their own pace through the exercises, and more skilled students are involved in assessing others. This is both fun and motivational. The course is not intended to be a full music course, but supplements singing, Orff and other parts of a rounded music curriculum. Given that the course can be continued over 2 or even 3 years, it is ideal that students have their own book. Bulk purchases attract a considerably reduced price (return email for this option)


All books Amazon, paperback or Kindle, or direct via return email. 

Developing Musical Skill – a presentation to music students, parents and teachers about how to practice.

It’s a simple connection but a powerful one. The internal drive required to pursue an activity relies heavily on the greatest of all motivators – making progress. For musical progress, nothing is as important as the quality and the quantity of practice time. This inspiring interactive, differentiated presentation will equip students, teachers, adult learners, and parents with the methods and mindset required to maximise the prospect of learning music enjoyably and successfully.  Content and concepts include repetition (blocked, variable and spaced, brain myelination) chunking (the brain looks to recognise patterns, why theory matters, short-term memory considerations) slow practice (the brain’s learning preference) the quantity of experts (Ericsson’s violinists), and of course the core importance of cultivating a growth mindset.

Just Landed: Gibson 2018 Acoustic Guitars

Gibson Montana 2018

Gibson Montana 2018 Acoustic Guitars are crafted in Bozeman Montana, USA. Gibson uses a blend of traditional techniques and modern machinery to build acoustic guitars to an incredibly high standard.

Some of popular music’s greatest hits were written on a Gibson Montana acoustic guitar. For artists like John Lennon, Bob Dylan and others, the Gibson J-45 acoustic is a staple on every recording session.

We are proud to announce at that we have the new 2018 Gibson Montana range available at Gear4music. From the classic Gibson Hummingbird, Vintage Cherry Sunburst to the iconic Gibson J-45 Standard, Vintage Sunburst, you can rely on Gear4music to find the brand new Gibson Montana acoustic guitar for you.

Click image to find out more.

Freedom For Musicians Supports Oxfam

Oxfam is a global movement of millions of people who share the belief that, in a world rich in resources, poverty isn’t inevitable. In just 15 years, extreme poverty has been halved. 15 more years and we can end it for good.

To spread that change and make it last, political solutions are also needed to tackle the root causes of poverty and create societies where empowered individuals can thrive. We will always act, we will speak out, and we won’t live with poverty.

Oxfam is a global movement of people working towards a world without poverty. And we won’t rest until we get the job done.

We respond fast in emergencies, and stay to help people rebuild their lives. We work on long-term projects with communities determined to shape a better future for themselves. And we campaign for genuine, lasting change.

Trumpet Legends – Timofei Dokshizer

Timofei Dokshizer was born on December 13th, 1921 in the town of Nezhin, Ukraine to the family of musicians. He received his initial education at the Glazunov Music College in Moscow under the tutelage of Ivan Vasilevsky. He continued his studies at the Central Music School in the class of professor Mikhail Tabakov. In 1950, Dokshizer graduated from the Gnessin’s Music Institute under the supervision of the same professor. Mr. Dokshizer received his Master Degree in conducting from the Moscow State Conservatory in 1957, studying with Leo Ginzburg.

At age 19, Timofei Dokshizer won the Soviet-Union brass instruments’ players competition and in 1947, Mr. Dokshizer won the International Competition in Prague, which jumpstarted his performance career. From that point on, his profound artistry and creativity set a standard of excellence for other trumpeters to follow.

He frequently toured the USSR and abroad, winning aclaim from critics who praised his timber, beautiful tone, unique phrasing, and filigree technique. In addition to his solo performances, Dokshizer worked at the Bolshoi Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Moscow. Here, he was revered for his brilliant renditions of some of the most difficult orchestral trumpet solos, particularly in Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake,” Prokofiev’s “War and Peace” and “Romeo and Juliet,” Khachaturian’s “Spartacus,” and many others.

His Repertoire was incredibly vast and included nearly everything ever written for the trumpet, along with works previously arranged for the instrument, from Bach, Haydn, Hummel, Albinoni and Vivaldi to his contemporaries, Shostakovich, Wainberg, Schedrin, Gershwin and others. Many works performed by Timofei Dokshizer were his own transcriptions, of which there were over 80 along the course of his lifetime. Among these were popular miniatures, originally written for violin, piano or voice by Kreisler, Sarasate, Debussy, Ravel, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rubinstein, Rachmaninoff, Chopin and he often included his own cadenzas for concerti by Haydn, Hummel and Arutiunian. Mr. Dokshizer was responsible for a tremendous expansion of trumpet repertoire, both through his own contribution to the art form and through compositions written especially for him throughout his life.

Nearly a quarter century of Mr. Dokshizer’s career was dedicated to pedagogical work. He was a professor at the Gnessin’s Music Institute and has brought up scores of talented trumpet players. He has left behind invaluable teaching materials. Mr. Dokshizer conducted and adjudicated countless teaching seminars, master classes, international competitions and festivals. He moved to Vilnius, Lithuania in 1990 where he lived until his passing on March 16, 2005.

Music Lifeboat – Every Child Deserves Access to a Musical Education

Our Mission

We believe every child should have access to music education. We are working on a solution to bring free music education to the world that is sustainable. We want to make sure that all young children, adolescents and adults have access to high quality music education. We work with and support music teachers and many non-profit organizations. 10% of all our proceeds go to The Harmony Project. Other proceeds go to sustain our free award winning music educational app BandBlast and help bring music education to underserved communities .

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