Category Archives: Did you see this?…

Our selection of the weirdest and most wonderful things happening in music around the world.

Why was the Greatest Showman panned by the critics?

The Greatest Showman is the biggest movie success story of this century so far. With scores like 6/10 and just 2 stars from movie critics, it wasn’t expected to make much of a return on the whopping cost of producing it and yet audiences have loved it. In my opinion, it’s the music, and superb performance of it, which holds this film together. Big numbers such as ‘This Is Me’ and ‘A Million Dreams’ have captured the hearts of young and old with their feisty lyrics and singable tunes. Beside them however are more mature themes, both in the lyrics and the music, giving changes of pace which add an extra level of depth. ‘Never Enough’ and ‘Rewrite the Stars’ have soaring melodies and serious messages which are beautifully exploited by composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. The remarkable songwriting elevates this film far beyond what the critics were expecting.

It seems the critics were expecting a film that would explore the extremely interesting true life story of P T Barnum. It would definitely be a story worth telling. We already have the stage musical Barnum (1980) which loosely tells the rags-to-riches version of the tale. Both it and the new movie ignore almost entirely the fascinating real life story of a man who was an author, publisher, philanthropist and politician. An influential figure in prohibition and the creation of prostitution laws, he was also very vocal about the abolition of slavery, famous for saying ‘A human soul, that God has created and Christ died for, is not to be trifled with. It may tenant the body of a Chinaman, a Turk, an Arab, or a Hottentot – it is still an immortal spirit.’ This attitude of inclusion may have made some significant contribution to his desire to rescue the people who became part of his show from being persecuted as freaks.

So, the film doesn’t touch on much of this at all and yet it is captivating and fabulous. The simple answer is probably ‘sometimes critics get it wrong!’

Buy sheet music from The Greatest Showman movie for piano, ukulele, flute, violin and more here!

Twyford Tootlers Open Air Concert at enjoymuzic

We’d like to say a big thank you to Rachel from Dawson Music & The Twyford Tootlers for their amazing open air concert at enjoymuzic!  They even brought the good weather with them.

The Twyford Tootlers Open Air Concert at enjoymuzic
The Twyford Tootlers Open Air Concert at enjoymuzic

Don’t miss Rachel and Simon from Dawson Music performing as the Astor Duo at Church of England, Cramlington on Saturday 14th July.  They’ll be performing entirely original arrangements of modern popular music from 1970s until the present day. Music by Bruno Mars, Adele, Stevie Wonder and many more.

More info here…

Can Boys Play Flutes?

Back in 2008, I wrote a blog about how gender stereotypes affect young people before they even play their first note and the influences of parents, peers and the media on choosing an instrument (Read ‘What’s The Right Instrument For Your Child’ here). According to a recent study commissioned by the Royal Albert Hall, nearly a decade later, the steering of boys towards ‘masculine’ instruments such as guitars, trumpets and tubas and girls towards more ‘ladylike’ options such as the flute, is still just as common.

So why, when we have come so far in the last 10 years in our general attitude to sexism (women fighting on the frontline for example) do we still feel uncomfortable when a pink and dainty little girl announces she wants to play the drums?

Read more about the results of the Royal Albert Hall research here.

Top 10 music blogs and review sites

1) If you play ukulele, check out this fab blog packed full of tips, tricks and reviews by the well-known ukulele author and teacher Brett McQueen. http://www.ukuleletricks.com/blog/

Being the online presence The Guitarist magazine, it seems only natural that Music Radar would host some of the best guitar resources online, including these two….

2) Learn something new and improve your technique at http://www.musicradar.com/guitartechniques

3) Don’t buy an expensive piece of kit until you’ve read the reviews at http://www.musicradar.com/reviews/guitars

4) Everything you need to know to be a healthy and happy gigging musician from http://www.musicianwages.com/

5) Everything from creating a fab website for your band to tips on dealing with an agent http://www.musicthinktank.com/ deals with the big issues of the day affecting both professional and amateur band members.

6) If you enjoy supporting new artists and want to know about the next rising star before everyone else, surprisingly one of the best places to be is the BBC! http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/introducing

7) Stay in touch with the Classical music scene at http://www.theartsdesk.com/classical-music – CD reviews, performer interviews and brilliant snippets of trivia.

8) All the latest gossip from the Jazz world http://thejazzbreakfast.com/

9) Although it’s the blog of Alex Ross (the music critic at the New Yorker), http://www.therestisnoise.com/ also features reviews of the most influential productions and performances happening around Europe, as well as fascinating articles about musicians old and new.

10) http://www.soundonsound.com/ is one of the most informative music technology websites with an active and friendly forum for all your questions on set-ups, recording and software.

Female musicians are still battling hostilities within a male-dominated profession…

…according to Arts chief Jude Kelly. Speaking at the launch of the Southbank Centre 2014-15 season, Ms Kelly highlighted the recent career of US conductor Marin Alsop who was famously on the receiving end of some shocking sexism when she became the first lady to conduct the Last Night of the Proms last year. Many leading male musicians have made comments indicating that the role of conductor is too physically demanding for women and also implying that females cannot be committed to the shifting life of a musician because of their expected role within a family.

It’s all complete b*****ks of course, since the ability to perform in any role is down to the talent and life choices of every individual. However, we were wondering if any of you lady musicians have ever experienced any hostility from the male musicians you work with? Or what opinion you fellas hold on working with (or under) lady pros? We’d be interested to hear your stories.

Orchestra Image
Female musicians are still battling hostilities within a male-dominated profession…

 

Congratulations Frankie and the Heartstrings!

Anything that promotes new music, local bands and opportunities for groups looking to widen their audience is a good thing. You don’t often find bands who go to this level of trouble to do it themselves. However, as any band knows, promoters, record labels and agents come and go so taking control of getting the word out there is a smart move on the part of this indie band and their new record shop-come-gig-venue Pop Recs Ltd in Sunderland. Nice one guys!

Frankie and the Heartstrings

Nicholas McCarthy, The One Handed Pianist

We hear a lot about idols and role models in music but every now and then, someone truly inspirational comes along. Nicholas McCarthy is an award winning pianist who graduated from the Royal College of Music in 2012. He is currently touring the UK and USA and recently released his debut CD.

Pretty impressive stuff but here’s the bombshell – this guy only has one hand!! Nicholas was born without his right hand. He was told by many teachers that he should forget his dream of being a pro pianist but lucky for his fans he ignored them all and continues to delight audiences around the world.

We really enjoyed listening to some of the tracks from Nicholas McCarthy’s album, simply called Debut, hopefully you will too.

If you’re learning to play piano (using two hands!!), visit enjoymuzic for a great selection of easy piano music including recent chart hits, jazz and classical sheet music.