Friday, 25 November 2011
I recently went to Cyprus for three days with Kristyna Myles and Pete Williams to do some work at a school where our friend Claire Thorpe teaches. The plan was to spend two days at the school, do some performances and a question and answer session with the kids, then some workshops and finish with a concert where their parents would come and watch.
I had been looking forward to a nice couple of days in the sun but I had to think again. It rained pretty much the whole time we were there; the weather had followed us from Manchester. Almost everyone we met apologised for the rain as if they were personally responsible, and said they struggled to remember worse weather at that time of year. There were some cracking storms though and it was great to see the lightning strike down over the sea.
On Monday morning I jumped out of bed enthusiastically at 5:30am (which equated to 3:30 in England) and we made our way to the school. We had to sign in with our passports as the school was on a military base. To kick the session off we performed one of Kristyna's tunes 'I Wouldn't Change A Thing' to the kids. I was playing bass instead of guitar for a change as it made more sense with the line-up we had. It's nice to be in control of the bottom end. The Q and A session was really fun, with questions including 'whats your favourite song?', 'what do you think of the X-factor?', 'how much practice do you do?', 'what organisations are you part of?', 'why do you love what you do?', 'are there any downsides to being a musician?' and 'what has been your favourite gig so far?'. I think we managed to negotiate them without talking too much rubbish. We played a couple more tunes to the kids and did some solo performances. I played a version of Stevie Ray Vaughans 'Lenny'.
After a break I split off with the guitarists and bass player and spent the rest of the day teaching them their parts. One of the older pupils had already learnt all the tunes so was able to help me show the others what to play. They were very quick to pick things up on the whole, although I did have to simplify some of the chord shapes as no-one knew what a major 7th chord was. In fact one of the pupils commented that I hadn't written the chord charts in English, haha.
Hit Jump to read on
On the second day we gathered in the school hall for a dress rehearsal. As well as the larger group performances, there were also individual efforts. I accompanied two great young singers who sang songs by Rihanna and Kt Tunstall, and Kristyna and I were joined by a fantastic flautist for a version of Coldplays 'God Put A Smile Upon Your Face'. In fact all of the musical talent was mightily impressive, and it was a pleasure to work with the staff who were all very helpful and welcoming.
The concert in the evening was a success, and thoroughly enjoyable. It was nice to play with Miss Thorpe again on a verson of 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough'. After the concert we went for a Mezze, an incredible meal where they bring out about 45 different dishes. I was warned to pace myself, and I'm happy to report I got it just about right.
You can listen to a radio interview from Cyprus and some audio clips of the students performing in the blog section of Kristyna's website.