Capture the Moment

One of the things we make sure to encourage in our workshops here at the Music Workshop Company is the recording of every performance or workshop process, whether using photography, video or audio. This is such an important element both for the participants and the school.

Taking part in a performance is a big deal for a lot of students and it is valuable to document their achievements. When you think about a stage show, its full run and publicity, it is the high quality images that really make you remember the event.

Splaat Media is a Hertfordshire-based business that takes this idea to its conclusion. Founded in 2010 by Greg McClarnon, a recent award-winning graduate from the University of Hertfordshire Business School, the company provides a free professional photography service for school productions and events.

We caught up with Greg to find out more about Splaat Media and what motivated him to start the business…

What does Splaat Media do?

We go into schools and live events to take photographs, capturing all the best moments. We work with international drama festivals and various independent and state schools across the country. Last year we provided photography to over 650 schools.

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Why do you think it’s important to offer photographs of events?

Often schools and sports clubs put so much time and effort into organising their school productions, sports days and prize-giving ceremonies only for it to all come to an end with no high quality memory being taken. Capturing all the best moments at these events has become a whole lot easier with the use of photography, and it’s now possible to provide parents, schools and clubs with the opportunity to keep a permanent record of their child’s or students’ achievements. For the children too, it becomes a proud reminder of something they have accomplished.

How does Splaat Media work?

We come into schools and clubs for free, meaning that there is no need to pay for an external, and often expensive, photographer. All the school or club needs to do is provide us with time, date and location. We’ll do everything else for them, scheduling the event into our calendar and assigning it to one of our team to photograph.

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We also offer a different level of service depending on the type of event. If the event is a drama or dance show, we take the photographs at the dress rehearsal and create an eye-catching display of prints for the parents to view after the show. We upload the pictures to our website for parents to view later.

For events like sports days and prize-giving ceremonies, we offer a live event photography service. At prize-giving ceremonies, our photographers take the pictures, and as the ceremony takes place we print the photos. Parents can take away a photographic memory of their child’s achievement straight away.

At sports days we provide prints on the day of the event, and we also allow parents to look through the photos, pick their favourites and purchase them on our tablet computers, using our Splaat photo app. They can instantly take away high quality photos of their favourite moments.

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So if you have a school show or other important event that you’d like to have documented at a professional level, Splaat Media might be able to help. Greg’s business has received glowing reviews and several repeat clients and the photographs are professional quality, creative and really capture the intensity of the students’ experience.

image001Contact details for Splaat Media can be found on the website at www.splaatmedia.co.uk or you can follow on Twitter @splaatmedia or Facebook.

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

As Christmas approaches, there’s always a race for the number-one spot in the charts. This year the Music Workshop Company team have been discussing their favourite seasonal music and have come up with their own top songs. Here’s a little bit about each of the team and their Christmas choices.

Maria Thomas is the Artistic Director and Founder of The Music Workshop Company. She specialises in Early Years, Creativity workshops and World Percussion workshops.

“My favourite is the 1961 song Christmas Time in London Town (words by Frederik Van Pallandt, music by David Flatau).

It was a favourite at my Mum’s school and I love the imagery in the words. It reminds me of trips to London as a child to choose a present in Hamley’s!

I also love the Calypso Carol/O Now Carry Me to Bethlehem, which is another favourite from childhood. I love the Calypso rhythm.”

Matthew Forbes is a cellist who also plays piano, mouth organ, kazoo, djembe, guitar, and mandolin…. And is a composer! Matthew leads workshops on Composition, Song Writing, Indian Music, African Drumming and Ceilidh.

“Easy. It’s Fairytale of New York by Kirsty MacColl and The Pogues. It has everything; sad, funny, ironic, moving, energetic, sentimental and festive. Perfect”

Colin McCann is a percussionist who specialises in Samba workshops but also loves leading Junk Percussion workshops.

“My favourite is In The Bleak Midwinter (words based on a poem by Christina Rossetti and music by Gustav Holst). I love the words; they are so emotive.”

Chris Woodham is a professional percussionist who specialises in World Percussion workshops but also loves leading Composition workshops.

“My favourite Christmas Song is When a Child is Born, by Boney M, (written by Zacar with lyrics by Fred Jay) which was released in 1981, the year of my birth.

It’s from the Christmas Album by Boney M that used to be a firm favourite in the Woodham household.  I’ve always been drawn to reggae, and the album includes lots of lovely ‘reggaefied’ classic songs.  I really like When a Child is born because it uses humming then a full choir and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, also has some spoken word and a key change. What’s not to like! It was recorded at Abbey Road and Air studios both of which I have been lucky enough to work at in the past.”

Sarah Ford is an actor, director and singer, and leads many of our theatrical workshops such as Play in a Day.

“My favourites are Angels from The Realms of Glory (words by James Montgomery to the tune of “Regent Square” UK) and Hark the Herald Angels Sing (music by Felix Mendelssohn, words by Charles Wesley, amended by George Whitefield and Martin Madan).

The first one is because it’s a grand, full-out sing and the second because I love singing the descant.”

Johanna McWeeney is a violinist and journalist who writes and edits the Music Workshop Company blog and newsletters.

“My favourite Christmas piece is Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride, an orchestral piece that dates back to 1948. The lyrics weren’t written until 1950. I just love the melodies, the witty use of percussion and the fun textures from the brass, particularly the horse at the end. It really conjures up Christmas for me and it’s great fun to play.”

Alison Murray is the Project Manager for the Music Workshop Company and liaises with clients to help them find their perfect project.

“Once In Royal David’s City, music composed by Henry John Gauntlet (1805-1876), words written by Cecil Francis Alexander (1818-1895), originally written as a poem.

Why?  The words of the song are so beautifully written, simple yet so meaningful, and of course when you hear the solo at the beginning, the sound is so pure and spine tingling. I have sung this song myself so often, since primary school days (a very long time ago now!) and we always sing it our church crib service, with everyone around the crib holding candles, it’s just magical.”

2013 Recap

We started the Music Workshop Company blog in April this year, and as 2013 draws to a close with end-of-term concerts, Christmas parties and New Year’s resolutions, we decided to take a look back over the last few months at MWC; and of course, a look forward to 2014.

Expo standMaria and Sarah had a great time at the 2013 Rhinegold Music Expo at London’s Barbican Centre, meeting clients and exchanging experiences and ideas. MWC will be there again for the 2014 Expo, which is on February 7th and 8th. It’s a great opportunity to attend seminars and workshops, and it’s a chance for us to catch up with participants past and present, to get feedback, and to help us develop our workshops. It’s free to register so come and visit the Music Workshop Company Stand and meet the team.

We’ve been developing our workshops throughout the year, and added some new workshops, including a vocal workshop for Black History Month. You can read about Black History Month, its background, relevance and musical significance, in our August blog. Other popular workshops we’ve looked at in the blog include African Drumming and Samba Music. We’ve run schools’ composition workshops, drumming workshops, world music workshops, and even collaborated with Stevenage Symphony Orchestra in an exciting project with composer Alison Wrenn.Goddesses

Here is some of the feedback we’ve received from schools, colleges and private clients this year.

“Very educational, hands on and kept children’s attention throughout.” Tony Tremelling, St Ursula’s, Composition Workshop, February 2013

“Very enjoyable and rewarding.” Gillie Pipe, Carers First, World Percussion Workshop, February 2013

“I was happiest with the creativity and fun aspect of the workshop.”Mohammed Wasiq, Cranford College, Junk Percussion Workshop, April 2013

“Many thanks for Saturday night. Both Chris and Maria were great and managed to get most people participating! It certainly broke the ice and everyone enjoyed it.  Thanks again, it was exactly what I had imagined.” V Williams, World Percussion Workshop (As part of wedding celebrations), May 2013

“I liked all the pieces that Matthew bought for the steel pans. I enjoyed working with him and the pupils all liked the sessions.  I learnt lots of new ideas that I will be able to use with the children.” Valerie Freeborn, Bensham Manor, Steel Pan Workshop, June 2013

“Engaging and enjoyable.” Rachel Brazendale, Gordon’s School, Junk Percussion, Samba & West African Drumming, July 2013Welwyn Festival photo

We rounded off the year’s blogging with some top tips on how to organise a Christmas or end-of-term concert. These tips are relevant to the preparation of any performance or concert, and we’ll be putting together an information pack with even more ideas. The suggestions in this pack are based on the MWC team’s extensive experience in workshop and concert organising. You can also read our advice on what to look for in a music workshop leader in October’s blog.

We hope our posts have been informative and interesting so far. If there’s anything you’d like to see in the blog, contact us with your ideas. Meanwhile, we’d like to wish all our clients, participants and musicians a happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year, and we hope to see you all in 2014 for more workshops, more music and more fun. Music Company

Drawing by Stickman Cards by Johanna McWeeney for the Music Workshop Company

Top Tips for Concert Organisers

As the end of term, and probably the end of term concert, approaches, here at MWC we have been thinking about exactly what it takes to make a great show.

You’ll be able to read all of our ideas soon in our new resource pack on concert organising, but for now, here are some of our top tips for a successful evening…

Welwyn Festival photoPreparation and Rehearsal

The performers need to know all of their pieces or lines, but make sure you don’t over-rehearse. Your show will be flat and uninteresting if performers (and staff) are fed up with the material before they go on stage.

Check that anyone speaking is facing the audience so their voice carries. Find a focal point at the back of the hall for performers to speak to.

Have a dress rehearsal. A run-through in performance order helps build confidence for the night.

If performers are walking on stage in a particular order, check they know which person to stand next to. Line them up outside the performance space and practice walking on.

Keep costumes, props and scenery simple. Don’t ask parents to supply costumes: it’s a nightmare for people who don’t consider themselves “arty”. It’s worth contacting your local amateur dramatics society, operatic group or theatre to see if they would mind lending you what you need.

Consider copyright and PRS issues. The music publisher can advise you on this.

Practicalities

What happens if your piano accompanist is ill on the night? Do you have someone who could cover or is it worth recording the music as back up?

Will you record the performance (audio, video or photograph)? Do you have the appropriate permissions from all the parents? Will you allow parents to record the performance or will you sell copies of your recording?

If you have an active PTA or other parent group, get them involved. They could make costumes, props and scenery, help backstage, sell refreshments or help with front-of-house duties.

ReedsThe Performance

A good front-of-house team is essential. They will be responsible for greeting the audience, directing them to their seats (the toilets, the refreshments) and stewarding in the event of an evacuation.

Whoever introduces the concert should announce fire and evacuation procedures. It’s also helpful to let people know where the toilets are, whether there will be an interval, if refreshments are available in the interval or after the performance and how to collect performers after the show.

If you have instrumental performers, make sure they have help tuning their instruments. Allow plenty of time to tune stringed instruments. Check that performers have everything they need; spare strings, reeds, mutes…

When performers aren’t using their instruments, they need somewhere to put them, particularly the percussion instruments which can make a sound with the slightest movement. Collect instruments straight after a performance (this can be worked into the staging) or organise for them to be put on the floor.

Performers should be encouraged to smile and bow after their performance. Practice this in the dress rehearsal. Bowing acknowledges the audience’s applause and allows the performers their moment of glory.

People who help with preparation, costumes, props, scenery, lighting, should be thanked. A thank-you card signed by the performers is a nice touch, and key supporters should be acknowledged before the end of the concert.

After the Performance

Make sure you’ve collected any equipment you need and that younger performers have all been picked up by their parents.

How will you celebrate the successful performance? An after-show party for the organisers, arranged by someone other than you, is a great way to share the post-concert buzz.

Good luck with your show!

If you have questions about any aspect of your Christmas performance, email us at info@music-workshop.co.uk and we’ll send you a reply. We’ll also share the questions and responses with others. Or why not join in our Twitter Q&A on Thursday 28th November between 4 – 5pm. Tweet us your questions @musicworkshopco and we’ll respond.

 

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