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A new book *****

15 Mar

SOON –

Author –  Lois Murphy

Publisher – Transit Lounge Publishing.   2017

I loved this book, with all its Australian references and challenges of distance. I did not want to put it down. I recommend it highly.

Pete McIntosh, retired from his official police duties, speaks to us in typically pedestrian, Australian style.  He laments past life, family and career which  are his reasons for escaping to a reclusive lifestyle, away from large cities.  His health is poor, and he wants peace of mind.   Time was, when he bought his property, and this little town housed a school, some families and a small but more interesting community, which needed a police officer.

In retirement, he justifies his present situation – in 1999 – in the depressed, lost town in Western Australia, Nebulah, which resembles Wittenoom in Western Australia, the once booming industrial site for manufacture of blue asbestos.  Lois knows Australia and Australians well, capturing in the moods and characters of this story.

Inspiration for this ghost town story, stems from reality. The now almost totally deserted, blue- asbestos ruined town of Wittenoom ,WA, is mirrored in  Nebulah.  Soon implies hope for a future, which becomes less likely to happen, as chapters are turned. Like tomorrow, or anon, will it come?

Pete invites us to his home, frequently when his apple pies are in the oven. His thoughts and story enfold as we meet this tiny, diminishing, group of stayput friends in Nebulah, as disappearances and deaths fall victim to violent, sinister events and environmental ruin from a pall of mist at nightfall.     The Government has removed the township’s old signpost, and  its tiny population is ignored, forgotten, as they struggling  to survive.  No  shops , school or library remain just a  cultureless group of houses remaining occupied,  where “weeks flow through the calendar  like a sluggish river.”

Pete’s TV, practical skills, support, and basic life necessities are shared with his neighbours. They support each other in their predicament,  as they have bought their properties which are  no longer saleable.  They cling to their homes and memories from before the visit of a group of suits to their cemetery.  Land Agents, Mining spies perhaps, who disappear, along with some earlier residents.   Mystery and suspense hold our attention, as well as beautiful writing and interesting characters, the stay-puts.  Even when every task is difficult,  they say put, gathering together when possible. 

 Ghastly violence, ghostly images, disappearances and deaths occur frequently, as the friends network collapses. Darkness and terror pervade, by the weight of the nightly, malevolent mist. It is Winter Solstice, so long nights prolong the fear. What shall they find when daylight comes? There is no escape.

 That sluggish river of time, and the pall of mist in long darkness, are  cruelties. Weighted by fear, Pete and his friends reveal their character through conversation and task sharing.    Crisp conversations , Australian  style are good to read.   Li, the refugee lady from Kmer Rouge fights to take produce from her once organic orchard and farm to the nearest town, so far away, in her rattletrap, unsafe car, is a source for fruit basics, and a friend to bring back supplies, tobacco, alcohol and other necessities, from her market trips.

Although this is a dark book,  delightful  writing makes it a joy to read. Interesting and damaged characters, relationships, word pictures so lyrically written hold interest throughout.  Powerful mystery projected me from one chapter to the next

Supplies and visitors are rare.  Organic orchard products –such as apples, grown and marketed miles away, by Li – a refugee from Khmer Rouge – keep her always busy. She brings back supplies, tobacco, beer among them. Old vehicles, unserviced trucks covering many miles to nearest towns clattering along, race home in fear, to lock up safely, before the mist invades.    Unreliable servicemen, police contacts based many miles away give limited help occasionally.

There is a small community of dogs here too. Dog Gina, Pete’s best friend, named after his tormented ex-wife, is constant and loyal.   All living beings are affected nightly by the evil, violent,  cataclysmic curtain of mist; heard, smelt, seen, breathed, and inescapable. Birds have left, plants wither, in this wilderness.

While supernatural forces are not my usual book choice, and Mist is used as a metaphorical  character here,  it represents to me destructive forces bringing down civilised life, as we have enjoyed it,  today.   Currently there are 2000 Pacific Islanders being deported from their homes, as climate change and rising tides  threaten their safety.  Will some of them refuse to go, leaving all behind them?  Wars, droughts, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, starvation, disease,  displace people by the thousands. Will a few remain behind and face ultimate destruction?  What population levels are sustainable? How many residents remain at Wittenoom now, defying the odds against them? Are indigeneous families still there? With only 7 others staying put on their properties, what level of risk are they enduring?

As environments decay around us, surely our planet cannot remain sustainable. So, yes, there are uncontrollable forces, ideologies, greed, and savagery, and many more , destructive forces  influencing human life, just as does this lethal, intrusive mist. We need cautionary stories to remind us and this Australian perspective , so well written, is

As environments decay around us, surely our planet cannot remain sustainable. So, yes, there are uncontrollable forces, ideologies, greed, and savagery, and many more , destructive forces  influencing human life, just as does this lethal, intrusive mist. We need cautionary stories to remind us and this Australian perspective , so well written, is welcome.

I am looking forward to reading more of Lois Murphy’s fine writing – in her uniquely Australian way.

As environments decay around us, surely our planet cannot remain sustainable. So, yes, there are uncontrollable forces, ideologies, greed, and savagery, and many more , destructive forces influencing human life, just as does this lethal, intrusive mist. We need cautionary stories to remind us and this Australian perspective , so well written, is welcome.
I am looking forward to reading more of Lois Murphy’s fine writing – in her uniquely Australian way.

Such a good read 

Autumn 2018

2 Mar

 

Autumn in Melbourne, Australia, has arrived, and  I am hoping to enjoy it. It is my favourite season, I’m preparing to enjoy it , as  I find summer weather very tiring. It has higher temperatures more often, every year.

2017 raced away, and 2018 is settling in, even faster. Easter is almost here, and as Australians we are being told we are no longer what we thought we were for 230 years, but we are something different.   Well, unprecedented numbers of migrants are arriving in our capital cities, and our traditional suburban homes with their treasured back gardens and space around them for family life, are being knocked down all around us.   Traffic pollution and lack of infrastructure choke our air, and once again we are wondering when the next healthy fall of rain will refresh our gardens.   After a hot summer, will autumn and winter bring enough water to replenish our rivers and dam supplies?

A former premier of NSW Robert Carr, has just reminded us that if we put all of our desert continent’s rivers into the Mississippi River, they would not affect its flow one iota.  This fact is ignored as my home city, Melbourne, Victoria, for several years voted the world’s most liveable city, is changing to a carbon copy of the worst liveable, hideously overpopulated, fast, dirty cities ,  from where many of our new residents are escaping.

I posted this last Autumn – “Are we at the dawn of a frighteningly strange, new era? I don’t know whether to feel contentedly optimistic, or scared stiff?” I now know that, with thousands more arriving since then, this is unsustainable madness.  It is destruction of a culture, lifestyle and character which has stood us in good stead. Its roots grew  from

the great western civilisation tradition, superimposed upon thousands of years of indigenous aboriginal occupation.   

‘Growth’ is bringing disaster, confusion and unsustainability upon us. Immigration numbers need revision and control.  That is an urgent matter.   Apartment living is an unhealthy option, and vertical ugliness of architecture is depressing.

I believe I have known the best of Melbourne. I wonder if others agree with me as our climate brings extremes of heat and cold weather, destructive gales, and disappearing shorelines.   Overpopulation brings destruction, just as do polluted oceans and skies filled with machinery.      Quo vadis?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World has changed.

25 Feb

We hear that cry constantly now,  from many voices, don’t we? And we know that is true.  Authorities are being run by emotional groups, and the calm, disciplined, educated minds who prepare for, and accept leadership responsibly are howled down by hoards of motor-mouthed, self seeking zealots, determined to stop rational debate.  Personal abuse and insults are replacing respect for persons, and rational debate cannot proceed for the noises they make.   Can a law abiding society survive this racket?

Now, in February 2017,   we are  bombarded with noise pollution, wrongly called Music in my view.   Intelligent conversation and speech is overpowered,  by  raucous backgrounds of irrelevant instrumental or digital sound effects. Even advertisements cannot be heard for the rubbish screaming behind the voices.      Orchestral compositions have expanded into damaging aural assaults, especially for the players themselves, and deafening rock music has destroyed the hearing senses of the population for about 50 years now. Yet they scream for more.    This is happening above incredible traffic noise from the air and the roads around us.

I don’t know how one little blog post can do anything about this, but I wonder if any one has bright ideas which may  remind the wider, noisy world of their stupidity.  How can we make a difference, in a world of such invasion?  We are mindful of protecting our children’s senses,   eyes, skin, smell from dangerous environments,  but the sense of hearing is bombarded all day long from excessive noise. Once destroyed, hearing won’t return.

Technology invades ever faster, and sensitive nuances of sound such as human voices, and tuneful music is swept away in its path. Combining with music making away from technology, and speaking conversationally, rather than needing to shout at each other must surely be a wise goal for a peace loving community. Where may we find it today?  Most of  the Music Shops in my world’s most livable city, Melbourne, Australia, have closed now. Ghastly noises while you wait for ever to speak to someone on the phone are an abuse.  Radio and TV presenters need voice training and effective speaking advice before they are let loose on the public.   Monotonous, piercing mouthing of words is distracting and painful to hear.    Explosive dynamic changes in broadcasts are hideous too.

I cherish the music which is not ‘owned’ but shared quietly, easily,  by human voices alone, or with unamplified accompaniment on solo instruments.     Cinemas and concerts are far too loud, unbearably so  at times.   I’ve been prattling about this for a decade, so this rant is not a new one.     It happens to be a focus of mine which I can’t ignore.

Listen and learn are my tips for a society which cannot hear itself think. Share the music you can sing, hum and whistle which can bring happiness.  You don’t need an audience for that. It is a personal treat when you are alone too.   The less dissonance I need to deal with the better.  I’m glad I have a lifetime of enjoyable melodies in my musical memory. I am never lonely.   I enjoy my me time when everyone else goes to bed and I can think quietly.  Even so, the jet planes will make my house on the hill rumble when they power overhead from 4 am.

Time for a pillow now.

10 Interesting Facts About Johannes Brahms

22 Jun

#Orchestral String Players always enjoy the warmth of Brahms compositions. Beautiful music.

Take Note

by Jacy Burroughs

Brahms

1. Johannes Brahms was born on May 7, 1833. His father was a town musician who played a variety of instruments, mostly horn and double bass.

2. Brahms began playing piano at the age of 7. By the time he was a teenager, he was helping the family financially by performing in inns, brothels, taverns and along the city docks. Brahms is also believed to have begun composing early in his life, but destroyed his early compositions. He did not become famous as a composer until April and May of 1853, when he was on a concert tour as accompanist to the Hungarian violinist Eduard Reményi.

3. In 1853, Brahms met Robert Schumann. Schumann was so impressed with Brahms’ compositions that he wrote an article in his Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, praising the young composer’s genius and heralding him as the one who could…

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Summer Assignment Sheets

22 Jun

Time To Dance

20 Apr

Music Therapy research is providing amazing information about results, strategies and benefits of Music involvement in the education of those with disabilities. – musicbestbuys.com

Emma's Hope Book

Hearing music alleviates anxiety and welcomes dappled drops clasping gleeful feelings, radiating inward and outward simultaneously.  Like bursts of intense flavor, music explodes in the body.  Only a few stoic souls can ignore its command to move.  Dancing is the healthy choice.  Turn on your favorite music and give yourself permission to become a part of those notes.

Photo by http://jessso.deviantart.com/art/Dancing-Woman-in-Red-404347339 Photo by http://jessso.deviantart.com/art/Dancing-Woman-in-Red-404347339

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About me

13 Jun

You are invited to visit my Website http://www.musicbestbuys.com for up to date news of Musical Instruments Plus. My Facebook page and Ads can be seen at Musicbestbuys, and my Pinterest pages Music Education Ideas, and The Book Depository bring interesting links and support. My mission is to foster a love of music in people of all ag, and help them to share it.

Val Lennie

Johann Sebastian Bach in Weimar Johann Sebastian Bach in Weimar (Photo credit: pittigliani2005)

Melbourne Melbourne (Photo credit: nifwlseirff)

Bach Bach (Photo credit: Seabamirum)

Felix Mendelssohn's Leipzig study Felix Mendelssohn’s Leipzig study (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Johann-Sebastian-Bach Johann-Sebastian-Bach (Photo credit: tölvakonu)

English: contemporary advertisement (1845) for... English: contemporary advertisement (1845) for Mendelssohn’s six organ sonatas, op. 65. From the journal ‘Musical World’, edition of 24 July 1845 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, old monument in f... Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, old monument in front of the Gewandhaus, Leipzig (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 As a musician, I am fortunate to enjoy playing and sharing musical activity widely. I don’t need to travel far either, as there is appreciation for my skills close to home. Music has been a golden thread through  my life, and I hope that continues as long as I live.

When an infant reaches out and strikes just one piano key, instant response leads to curiosity and pleasure.  Further keys add to the experience which is wonderful to observe.At a very early age children try…

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About me

13 Jun

About me.

About me

28 Oct
Johann Sebastian Bach in Weimar

Johann Sebastian Bach in Weimar (Photo credit: pittigliani2005)

Melbourne

Melbourne (Photo credit: nifwlseirff)

Bach

Bach (Photo credit: Seabamirum)

Felix Mendelssohn's Leipzig study

Felix Mendelssohn’s Leipzig study (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Johann-Sebastian-Bach

Johann-Sebastian-Bach (Photo credit: tölvakonu)

English: contemporary advertisement (1845) for...

English: contemporary advertisement (1845) for Mendelssohn’s six organ sonatas, op. 65. From the journal ‘Musical World’, edition of 24 July 1845 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, old monument in f...

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, old monument in front of the Gewandhaus, Leipzig (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 As a musician, I am fortunate to enjoy playing and sharing musical activity widely. I don’t need to travel far either, as there is appreciation for my skills close to home. Music has been a golden thread through  my life, and I hope that continues as long as I live.

When an infant reaches out and strikes just one piano key, instant response leads to curiosity and pleasure.  Further keys add to the experience which is wonderful to observe.At a very early age children try to find a tune which they have heard and liked.

For me, at three years of age it was ‘The Bridal March’ from Lohengrin, heard on a large pipe organ as ‘Here comes the Bride’ in the lovely setting of a friend’s wedding in a city church with a large pipe organ. I checked out this age, as parents may exaggerate at times. Fifty years later our friends celebrated their Golden Wedding, and I was 53 then . The home instrument was not an easily struck piano, but a harmonium.  With a heavy, book filled organ stool supporting my back, left foot on the floor for stability and, being much too short  to sit on the stool and play both pedals, right foot was pumping the pedal to fill the bellows with air, I played the opening measures of the tune ringing in my head The names printed on those drawstops were fascinating too, leading to various tone colours. Diapason,Stopped Diapason,Flute,Corno dolce,Vox Humana, and Tremolo were among them, all available in a box powered by foot pedals. They had figures on them too, 8′, 4′ 2′ which made sense when I started to play pipe organs. The irregular supply of air to the bellows accounted for some very odd pitch and phrasing varieties, I thought this was hilarious, and laughed a lot  about it.

Before it lost popularity,  many Brides requested this item  as a processional. It is just one bridal processional of many, and  as a pipe organist I enjoyed playing appropriate ceremonial works in interesting venues; cathedrals, churches and halls – grand and humble, indoor and outdoor. Cathedral Services settings,  Parish church music and  major organ  works of J S Bach and other organ masters from different countries were played.

The J S Bach centered method studied with Bernard D Clarke, my teacher was highly disciplined, structured and a methodical  approach which brought a deep knowledge of the style and spirit of composers and their times. Bach taught the way to understanding musical styles, from that time, to today. This method derived from Felix Mendelssohn to England, where Sir Walter Parratt taught it to Dr  A E H Nickson who brought it to Melbourne. Bernard was one of his students. European Romantic and classical  compositions were studied, and played on large, resourceful organs in Melbourne, noted for colourful instrumental registration. I am not a lover of classically voiced instruments, particularly when they sound like a “box of ‘twhistles”., and key operation sounds like a typewriter to me.   My style of playing is influenced by phrasing I employ as an upper string player, and choral director. I think orchestrally, and enjoy a firm bass foundation. I enjoy making music with my feet!

 In the young city of Melbourne concert organs in Town halls, and theatre organs  preceded the symphony andf pit orchestras which now exist. They added great sensitivity,  grandeur and power to Church Services, Ceremonies and Concerts

Felix  Mendelssohn was a master of Symphonic writing, Concerti, Choral works, String and Organ Works also. His achievement in finding and performing the B Minor Bass  manuscripts of Bach has served us well.. As an organist in the Christian tradition and from a Jewish background, his oratorio ELIJAH, among other cantatas, is well loved. Choral training,conducting and playing of  this dramatic work, as well as other oratorios and choral works in churches and schools, and Direction of Civic choirs were artistic highlights in my career.The Book of Common Prayer provided a wealth of lovely language when set to fine music.

After leaving school at  fifteen,  my career in Church music began, simultaneously with working for a living as a Secretary. We were trained in skills of language, shorthand, typewriting and Bookkeeping as at the end of 1945, the post war period meant that many returned service people would need most of the  places in Melbourne’s one University, and others would require Secretaries as they moved back to the business world.

Many older musicians were away in the armed services, so fortunately an Organist was needed at the local Church of England. Limited power supplies in these post-war years meant that ‘brownout’ dips in power during services occurred. The sweet, small, antique pipe organ lowered pitch accordingly, but there were always willing friends to man the  hand pump in the organ chamber on these occasions. Suddenly pitch would lift and volume swell -with some chortling from the pump end- before settling  to a singable level again. Frighteningly uncomfortable levels of surging dynamics with commercial advertisements on TV today are a modern example of this with less access to correction. My rigorous, highly disciplined organ study commenced at nineteen.

Later still – by too many years –  a music degree ensured a long career in music education. Raising a family,studying,practising, church organ posts, performing, and  home studio tasks meant a busy life. My Music now means enjoying  playing my Clavinova Digital piano or Yamaha Electone organ at home, Retirement villages and Entertainment centres, Orchestral playing, and Accompanying, which I have always enjoyed.  Rarely heard music and thousands of  songs from our past,  are now revisited for  appreciative audiences.”It seems to me I’ve heard that song before”has become a theme for this activity which is proving mutually beneficial, therapeutic and enjoyable.

If you played for group singing in past years, and there is that box of old standards and community singing favourites  gathering dust in your studio, I urge you to review these songs, and share them with the Radio Generation, many of whom reside in Retirement Villages and Care Centres in your locality.  These people are hungry for them, and they lift their spirits. Hopefully the houses will have playable instruments available there. If not, you may find something of interest in my website, portable, easily playable, and great sounding  keyboards are reviewed there.

Celebrate the great singers who brought us words and melody, and bands who played the songs we danced to. Encourage singing and listening sessions as musical memory is a gift. Audiate the tunes stored there and share them, along with their personal memories. They were often learnt from non vocal recordings I like to ‘play be ear’ too.

People with speech difficulty can often sing fluently, and that is a miracle which happens often. With smiles and gentle waltzing, sometimes with walking sticks and  frames as partners, their move to the Dining Room for Afternoon Tea after a session,  provides a ‘lift’ from the daily routine. At one retirement home it was jokingly suggested that I ‘Bring my bed down’ as the sessions are highoy valued by staff and residents alike.  This is great feedback for any musician, isn’t it?

 Accompanying, conducting and leading singing for all age groups, whole school, groups from K-12, or youth to very old age, is a privilege which brought heart warming artistic satisfaction for me.    It’s a great ‘surround’ sound and a marvellous way to work with your community.    Accompanying Speech nights, or choral events  on the grand organ at Melbourne or St.Kilda Town Halls  were wonderful. Working with children’s groups is a special privilege.

For young students, Keyboard study is the finest entry to instrumental performance skills. They will learn techniques for ten fingers to play,  music reading from both treble and bass staves, concentration , and physical co-ordination between vision, hearing and fingers is developed methodically.  There is enjoyment in hearing fast response to simple striking of keys. They  will  learn to listen, listen, listen as well.

 While young bodies are growing,  to be seated and using balanced limbs is a healthier manner of music practice than many other instruments demand. Harmonic memory is developed, and intervals are learnt,  not only aurally but visually from the keyboard as well. When students  audiate their music and absorb true pitch discernment,this will remain with them as a lifelong, cognitive achievement and study skill for other fields. Listening is a skilful  tool for learning.

Keyboard study, for perhaps four years,  gives a firm basis for the study of other instruments later.  With reading established at critical ages for cognitive development,  skills related to other musical  instruments can develop faster, and the semitonal arrangement of black and white keys is a visual and  remembered aid for the study of major, minor and chromatic scales and chords. This is a great help for pitch definition and intervals of  harmony, and is a gateway to all styles of music study.

 

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