Lockdown hasn't stopped the music!!

On March 14th I put my violin away in it's case and made my way home for the evening just like I would after any gig.  I had just played at a beautiful wedding in the Moorland Garden Hotel.  Little did anybody know what was about to happen across the nation.  Lockdown! What did this mean?  In short, all live music work would be cancelled or postponed.  No more weddings for the foreseeable future.  No more Rock Choir rehearsals or Rock Choir gigs for the foreseeable future. More importantly for me I think - no more musical interaction with other musicians.  What do I do now?  It is so important at times like these to keep a positive mind and to keep a healthy mind and not let things get you down.  Yes there have been bad days and indifferent days where you start to wonder if there will be any gigs ever again and we are certainly not out of the woods yet.  We have just entered July and I am making this written note of what I have been doing since lockdown began.  First things first - get in touch with all my clients and re arrange all the gigs in the diary until at least October 2020.  It was a difficult task but thankfully this has been done and achieved with success.  What about Rock Choir?  We cant meet like we used to and every gig in the summer programme has disappeared because all the events have been cancelled. As you can see from the photo I have had to get my head around the latest technology as the only way forward was to move the choir online!  Those people that know me well will also know that this wasnt something that I found particularly easy and certainly not an enjoyable prospect!  With help from many friends and colleagues, far more knowledgeable than me, we did it!  I host three Zoom choir sessions every week.  To start with I was very unimpressed!  How can I run a choir and not be able to hear them sing? (Singers have to muted due to the latency!) I am just conducting my mac!  Urgh!!!! Over time I have come to realize that you have to make the very best of any given situation.  It was Zoom choir or no choir. Alongside my lovely choir members we have learnt to really enjoy Zooming.  Its lovely to see each other and I can teach the choir new material and we can sing through older songs.  Yes the members are singing in isolation but you can see your choir buddies and you can hear them in the rehearsal tracks so it is close to what we had!  We are coming to the end of a very different 'virtual' term but it has been a great experience.  Alongside Zoom sessions I have put together individual video tutorials for each section of the choir for each of the five songs that we have learnt together.  We have had facebook live sessions, Zoom quizes, fancy dress sing alongs as well as a lockdown recording project with the members for We are the Champions by Queen.  (This was brilliant by the way!). 

As a violinist I have been grateful in many ways for the down time.  It has given me the time to practice so much more which I have really enjoyed.  I have been working on new arrangements of songs and pieces ready for when we can get out there and gig again.  I have been a part of some recording projects alongside local friends and musicians.  All in all I am making the very best of a difficult situation.  We still dont know when large weddings will start again and we still dont know when my choirs can meet up safely so this may only be 'half time' at the moment. If this goes on for a long time then I may well come back and give you all an update.  In the meantime I am in a good place, enjoying the downtime and practice time and enjoying working with my choir members to keep us all singing and in good health! Take care and stay safe.

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Dartmoor Wedding and St Patricks gig...

Lovely wedding ceremony yesterday at The Moorland Garden Hotel. Congratulations to Olivia and James on a beautiful wedding. Olivia walked into Canon by Pachelbel. I played 'All of me' and 'Say a little prayer for you' during the signing of the register and the wedding party exited to 'Sky full of stars' by Coldplay. This was my first visit to this hotel and really enjoyed my first experience. Lovely hotel, lovely setting and lovely staff.  Busy day yesterday. After playing at a wedding in Yelverton I dashed back to Dawlish to play at the St Patricks night at the The Ugly Duckling Dawlish. I joined Francine (Guitar and vocals) and Colin (Bass) as we played Irish jigs, reels and airs and other tiddly tiddly tunes. We also had a good sing of many classic Irish songs. Lovely evening with lovely food in a lovely restaurant. Thank you for the invitation to play.

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A very special Rock Choir experience.

We spent a lovely afternoon yesterday visiting a school for children of all ages who have both learning and physical disabilities. We were invited to perform because three of our rockies are teaching staff at this amazing school. What a wonderful and extremely humbling experience it was for us all! The kids, aged from about 5 up to 18 loved it! They sang and clapped and danced throughout the set and were totally engaged with the choir. One young girl signed the entire performance of 'All of me' - stunning. I love these small, intimate and personal gigs as do all the rockies who by the way were awesome! Thanks everyone and well done to the four rockies performing their debut gig! You were amazing!

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What do we do in the winter break?

January and February is always a little bit quieter in terms of concerts and gigs.  This gives us the oportunity to have a little breather.  We still continue to practice and work on new material.  We recently spent the afternoon meeting clients at Bovey castle for their Wedding open day.  I have also been busy arranging new pieces for weddings and events coming up in the spring.  These new pieces include Tchaikovsky Waltz from Eugene and Onegin and Tightrope (Greatest Showman), Never Gonna Let you down (Rita Ora) and Past the point of no return (Phantom).

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Christmas Wedding at Langdon Court, Wembury.

Lovely Christmas wedding at the very beautiful Langdon Court. Congratulations to Laura and Matt on a lovely wedding. Busy one for me (as I like it!). Violin for the ceremony (All of me, I will wait and Best day of my life). Upbeat tunes and songs on the violin for the drinks reception. To finish off the day I played some background piano classics for the wedding breakfast. Phew! That is it for the year now.

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Traditional Christmas Wedding at Ottery St Mary Church

We played at the very beautiful Ottery St Mary Church today for a festive Christmas wedding. Although the weather was awful outside there was a warm and festive atmosphere inside. This was a wedding with all the trimmings. String Quartet, Organist, Choir and Bell Ringers. Pachelbels Canon for the brides entrance and then some of Handel's Water Music for the signing. This was our final gig of 2019. We would love to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a huge thank you for following us this year and in fact this decade. 2020 is already looking like another great year for the Exe Valley String Quartet. Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year everybody!

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Exe Valley String Quartet play for 'Light up a life' service in Exeter Cathedral

Last night we played as part of the Light up a life service in Exeter Cathedral and as always it was a real pleasure to be a part of such a special evening. We played a new arrangement of 'Something inside so strong' as the book of memory was brought forward and the congregation spent time reflecting and remembering loved ones.

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Rock Choir Rock Yurt in Cornwall!

Well, in all my years in the music business I have performed and conducted in some wonderful venues but this is my first ever performance in a YURT in December!! A huge shout out and well done to Rockies from Saltash and Plymouth with one or two very dedicated rockies from Torquay and Newton Abbot for not only turning out to sing in awful weather - well done for finding the Yurt!! I have to say though it turned out to be a cracking night with a great audience. I know I am biased but I think we sounded particularly good last night. The singing was full of passion, intensity and energy. Really good! On to Tavistock on Sunday. Thank you Miss Ivy Events for a gig with a difference!

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Beyonce and Bach at Exmouth Wedding!

I always enjoy a traditional church wedding. On Friday I was at St Johns Church in Exmouth to play for the wedding of Stevie and Ryan. It was beautiful. The acoustics were great and the guests were very appreciative. I was on the piano for the hymns and the violin for the pre ceremony, brides entrance, signing of the register and wedding party exit. It was so nice to play Ave Maria, Air on G string, Greensleeves and Canon in D. I then played a bespoke and incredibly unique arrangement of Beyonce's Crazy in Love!!! What a job - so cool!

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100 Rockies singing for the Guide Dogs in Newton Abbot

Wow Wow Wow!!! What a sound, what a gig, what a choir! We had a brilliant day in Newton Abbot singing for the Christmas shoppers and raising some serious money for Guide Dogs South West. 100 Rockies singing passionately is a privilege to stand in front of and direct! You were all awesome and I am very proud of you all this evening. Huge thanks to Phil at Prosound Solutions SW Limited for doing us proud again with the sound. A wonderful Rock Choir vibe today. We go again at Cockington Court tomorrow at 1pm. Harrison is putting together a video of the day which I will share with all when finished!

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Rocking Teignmouth!

Rockies from Teigmouth, Newton Abbot and Torquay had the pleasure of rocking Teignmouth at their Christmas Tree Light switch on event last night. It was a lovely festive afternoon and evening with live music, stalls, festive food and drink and a lantern parade. The rock choir rounded off the event and as always looked and sounded superb!  Well done rockies on another great night.

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Rock Choir rock Tavistock

We had lovely day out yesterday in beautiful Tavistock. We went as a family to look around the markets and the historic town which was a really nice thing to do in the lead up to Christmas. I then joined 60 rockies and rocked Tavistock in the evening as they turned on their Christmas lights. It was so nice to see some past rockies in the crowd supporting the choir. Considering there was no sound check for anybody we sounded fab! Yvonne and the children who were in the crowd said it sounded great! Well done everyone and thank you Tavistock.

 

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Somerset Weddings

I have just come to the end of another busy weekend as a wedding and event violinist and pianist. I spent the weekend in Somerset playing at the very lovely Coombe Lodge at Blagdon and also today I had the pleasure of playing at Clevedon Hall. Both stunning venues (even if Saturday was very wet and windy.) Two lovely weddings and as always a privilege to play at both. Requests included All of Me, A Million Dreams and A Thousand Years. I also played on the grand piano at Coombe Lodge for the drinks reception including a bit of Bob Marley for the bride! Congratulations Sherrol, Chris, Rhiannon and Sam.  Nice to be back in Weston Super Mare as it gave me the chance to catch up with mum and dad and my sister Sarah.

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Exe Valley Strings at Rockbeare Manor

I had a lovely afternoon with @ExeValleyStringQuartet yesterday. Even though the weather was wet we played for a really beautiful wedding ceremony and reception at Rockbeare Manor. We played the wedding theme from 'Up' which is gorgeous and then we wrote a bespoke arrangement of 'Came here for love' for the bride and groom which is another great tune for strings to play.

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Traditional wedding in a beautiful Devon Village

I have just had the privilege of playing at a beautiful October wedding in Spreyton near Crediton. A real traditional feel today with a church choir and a traditional wedding ceremony set in a lovely Devon Village. The violin stayed home today as this was a piano gig. I played the Prelude in C by Bach for the guests while they settled down. Pachelbels Canon on the flute with piano accompaniment was the entrance music then I accompanied the Spreyton Singers as they sung the very pretty 'Songbird' by Eva Cassidy and the rousing 'Best Day of my life' for the exit of the bridal party. Congratulations to Tasha and Chris on a lovely ceremony. Best wishes for your future together.

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Solo wedding in Salcombe Harbour

Today I had the privilege of playing for Justine and Bens wedding in Salcombe. What a beautiful place to get married with the harbour as the back drop. Lots of musical theatre and film music today all on the electric violin. I also accompanied an amazing vocal quartet on the piano in the signing of the register as they sang original arrangements of 'Is this Love' by Bob Marley and 'All you need is love' by The Beatles. A fab day!

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New Barton Barns wedding in Wembury

We have so many beautiful places on our doorstep here in Devon. Today I had the honour of playing for Hayley and Dean as they were married at the stunning New Barton Barns in Wembury. Hayley walked down the isle to 'Paradise' by Coldplay and then we had 'A Thousand Years' and 'Stand by Me' during the signing of the register. The wedding party started the celebrations by walking out of the ceremony to 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love' by Queen. I then accompanied the guests drink reception with this amazing view of the sea. I played electric violin for this programme. Just Wonderful!

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British Philharmonic Concert Orchestra Theatre Gig.

Orchestral gig with British Philharmonic Concert Orchestra in Weston Super Mare. Last night of the proms classics as well as a full programme of British Orchestral music. Really enjoyable play!! I particularly enjoyed playing the Pirates of the Caribbean Orchestral Suite and the Phantom of the Opera was amazing!  We now go off to The Hexagon Theatre in Yeovil on Friday for the next show.

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Bovey Castle Wedding with EVSQ

We played at the very beautiful Bovey Castle today for another beautiful wedding. Slightly 'light jazz' feel to the requests today. Etta James 'At Last' and Gershwins 'Summerime' for the signing of the register. Really lovely pieces to play as a quartet. We played 'Signed Sealed Delivered' for the exit of the bridal party which was a new one for us but again very cool to play. 'Beaky' the parrot liked the music very much and even 'wolf whistled' some of the ladies at the wedding!

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Ever After Dartmoor wedding with Exe Valley String Quartet

What a scorching day it was Saturday for the wedding of Hannah and Richard. This was our second visit to the very beautiful Ever After - A Dartmoor Wedding. A busy gig as we played for pre ceremony drinks on the lawn. We then moved onto the ceremony where we played Hey Jude and Stand by Me. As the groom was a big Spurs fan we were asked to play the wedding party and guests out to the theme from the Champions League Football show. It went down well with all the guests. Then off to play lots of upbeat pop and rock covers for the main drinks reception. Congratulations to Hannah and Richard. Fabulous wedding!

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