Music Party App by Scott Tucker

Talk to anyone in the music education field about Scott Tucker and there’s sure to be words like ‘profound’ and ‘genius’ thrown around. His latest app for children and adults coming out later this year gives more fuel for the complimentary fire.

Whether its teaching children to clap a rhythm, giving private lessons to college students, or designing apps, nothing is out of bounds for Scott Tucker. He has pushed the boundaries of both the education and music teaching fields and has no thoughts of stopping anytime soon. Conductor’s Apprienctice is his newest addition to the online education genre and it is no simple game for kids. 

The app covers from kindergarten and with updates, to college level theory and beyond. A living, breathing, computerized musical tutor to grow as you do is something that hasn’t quite been perfected until now. With all the latest advances in technology it is possible, but only with Tucker’s expertise in the field was it able to become a reality. There is more than 25 years of personal experience crammed into the app, not to mention all the additions of past and present musicians and educators. 

Over the past several years Tucker started digging into the tech side of the music education field. He found that while there was means to make large jumps forward, there was still a gap remaining to link the music with the technology. Tucker filled that gap and plans to keep going until it becomes a mountain. He says this is only the beginning with future updates including live videos, jam sessions, virtual orchestras and more. 

The app will be available to all educators by the end of the year with public availability to follow soon after.


Posted in General

‘Politics and art are never as far apart as they seem’

In today's Guardian, Polly Toynbee - who is chair of the Brighton Festival - has strong words for those in politics who would like to slash back the arts and the nation's children's education in them to starvation levels. You can't be good at anything, she suggests - including politics - if you have a one-dimensional brain. Please read.

Yesterday along popped a press release from Sistema Scotland, with lots of facts and figures and quotes about Big Noise in  Raploch. You can read the Glasgow Centre for Population Health's findings here.

I was going to add some commentary, but I think these quotes speak for themselves.

I have never seen a piece of work come into an area, target so many people and have such an impact in such a short period of time.”
NHS Manager, Glasgow

“The music, how we hear music, how we get involved, build up your communication, build up your confidence.  Coming to Big Noise, you’ve got people you know and people you don’t know.  You’ve got music behind your back, pushing you.  So it’s like somebody pushing you to do something but its music and it’s pushing you to make good things like building your confidence.  When I started Big Noise I was shy, look at me now.  Anyone can achieve any goals they want”
Participant, Big Noise Raploch

“[Child’s Name} can be hard to manage when he’s in my class.  But the difference when [a Big Noise musician] came in!  Because it was something he could do, you could just see in his eyes.  …Being taught on the violin, he was just so proud of what he could do.  That’s a child that stands out in my head for the impact there can be, on a child who’s very hard to reach, in many ways.”
Primary school teacher, Govanhill

I’ve certainly seen concerts down here, where all the communities are mixing together.  The Arab community, the Eastern Europe community, the indigenous Asian community, the indigenous White community, they’re all mixing together.  The attendance at the concerts is phenomenal.  They’re packed, absolutely packed.  It’s great.  Sometimes the families, when the children are not directly in front, you see them creeping up closer and closer to the stage and just being totally mesmerised.  I think it’s a great unifier.”
          Primary school teacher, Govanhill

Posted in Classical Pit

Woolf Works – it does

Federico Bonelli & Alessandra Ferri (photo: Tristram Kenton)

The wonder of dance is that it makes the human body capable of expressing extreme emotion through movement alone. And what a treat it is to see Alessandra Ferri portraying the anguish of the suicidal Virginia Woolf simply by walking across the Covent Garden stage. The Italian ballerina, who left the Royal Ballet for ABT in her twenties, is now 52 and back from what looks to have been a premature retirement. Artistry oozes from her every centimetre; delicate, vulnerable, dignified and technically flawless too, she is a privilege to watch. Why should it be assumed that dancers will retire in their forties? Why should they, and we, miss out on the fruits of mature artistry?

Woolf Works really does work. Wayne McGregor's choreography in the past has often been virtuosic, intellectual, trendy, or all three at once, yet it's in poetic vision - expressed in whatever medium - that the best creators live on. McGregor has in the past offered flashes of that poetry in moments like Raven Girl's final pas de deux. But here, at least in the first and third sections, the physical poetry of emotion is there in force. It's as if he has found his true voice lying beneath all the bedazzlement and is now letting it sing. Edward Watson in 'I Now, I Then' (based on Mrs Dalloway) as the shell-shocked World War I soldier Septimus accompanied in Max Richter's score by a keening solo cello à la Elgar, matches Ferri and her younger self (Beatrix Stix-Brunnell) in the evocation of that poetry and is a special highlight.

Steven McRae & Natalia Osipova (photo: Tristram Kenton)
Natalia Osipova and Steven McRae (right) navigate the central section, 'Becomings', with the expected magnificence, Osipova's legs reaching what looks like a 240-degree extension. This episode - based, but less tangibly so, on Orlando - perhaps overstays its welcome; half an hour is a long time for any composer to sustain variations on 'La Folia', especially this loud, and while the idea was always that one dance idea begins while another is still in full flow, it can at times be hard to know where to look - whatever you focus on, you always feel you're missing something else. This episode is constant movement, a collage of ideas flashing and whirling by in a continual state of evolution, stunningly lit with lasers through dry ice (though the gold crinkly crinolines are a bit garish).

Finally, in 'Tuesday', Woolf's suicide note and her death blends with the stream-of-consciousness flow of The Waves, unfurling against filmed sea breakers in slow motion; a tender duet  takes place as she pays heart-rending homage to her husband, before walking into the water-embodying corps de ballet, is partnered by them, becomes one of them.

Richter's score is studded with moments of impressive imagination; its surround-sound electronic effects, the use of chamber music moments, voices - notably Virginia Woolf's own at the outset - plus the sounds of nature or of a much amplified scratching pen add constant new dimensions to the minimalist-derived style. Tchaikovsky it ain't, but it serves this multimedia dance theatre experience strongly and is an organic part of the whole.

If you love Woolf Works as much as I did, by the way, and you want a different kind of souvenir, I can highly recommend Caroline Zoob's gorgeous book about Woolf's garden at Monk's House. We see filmed glimpses of this garden in 'I Now, I Then', but the book is so beautifully done that it's the next best thing to visiting the place. In this strange world of ours, too, it is also possible to download an e-book of Woolf's complete novels for all of £1.19.

Woolf Works continues to 26 May. Book here.

Posted in Classical Pit