My last post actually brought about a response from a (probably not so) avid reader. Ian Raisbeck, a good friend of mine over many years – and an extremely talented musician (player, conductor, composer, teacher) – got in touch regarding my compositional dilemma.

Ian suggested that sitting staring at Sibelius (or your chosen compositional programme) and typing in via the mouse can sap your creativity. His suggestion was to get a cheap keyboard and just play about with ideas So, with that in mind, a cheap midi keyboard has been ordered to plug in and play with.

I guess we’ll see what happens!


Fear of The Blank Page

The title of this post sounds like either a horrendous book, or a really terrible straight-to-DVD film release.

And to be honest, the content is probably as scary.

I launched this blog in a blaze of hype that I would be aiming to write one piece of (admittedly simple) music per week. Over the summer holidays last year I managed it. However, I haven’t managed to compose anything this year.

It’s not for the want of trying. It’s the Lions Youth Brass organisations 25th anniversary this year, with a big concert in June. It’s my aim to write a piece for the Beginners that commemorates this – Silver Fanfare, perhaps – but everything I’ve done has been firmly rejected on playback when I realise it sounds, well, pretty rubbish.

I open up Sibelius (my music writing software), open the ‘template’ file, stare at the screen for a bit, watch it stare back at me, then close it down. It’s not even as though I’ve got no inspiration for pieces; a railway journey, the silver fanfare idea, a village green, the top of a peak. The inspiration is endless. Yet the ideas are not forthcoming.

I wonder if Beethoven struggled like this?

It’s Just Not Cricket.

The English assault on the Cricket World Cup is officially over. It was probably over before it begun in all honesty, but after the defeat to Bangladesh the other day, their campaign is now totally over. In five games so far England have beaten just one team. Scotland.

Just let that sink in.

Defeats to Australia and what is an exceptionally strong New Zealand team were expected. Beating Sri Lanka was probably a slightly more realistic aim, but they got smashed in that. They then did what they had to against Scotland by making sure they won the game, before capitulating to a 15 run defeat against the Banglas.

So what went wrong? Put simply, everything. Muddled team selections. Muddled build up. Jettisoning the captain two months before the tournament. There’s just a few.

First of all, team selection. James Taylor had played at 3 in all the build up games prior to the tournament and made a super job of it. Fast forward to the first World Cup game and Taylor is dropped to 6, with Gary Ballance (a fine player, but with no recent games under his belt) placed at 3. Therefore England went into the tournament with two ‘proper’ test players in the top three; Ballance and Ian Bell. Ballance barely made a run and was dropped for the game against Bangladesh. He was replaced by Alex Hales, a man most people wanted in the team and an opener through and through. Where did he bat? 3.

The build up wasn’t great either. Having four years to prepare for the tournament would lead you to assume, quite rightly, that the management would know who their best leader is. Alistair Cook is many things, but he isn’t one of the best 11 one day players in England. So why stick with him for so long? Dropping him two months before the tournament and replacing him with Eoin Morgan (a good replacement I believe) was hardly an indication that the management did know their best team, or strategy. This was duly born out by the results, performance and selections.

So where do they go from here? Well, home, initially. After that, back to the well-worn drawing board. They need to catch up. You can’t look to just rotate the strike. The top teams are rotating the strike off good deliveries now and hitting anything that isn’t a ‘jaffa’ out of the park. England are too ‘classical’ in approach, generally spending their time rotating. A clean sweep is required, with new faces brought in.

This leads to the obvious question; If I was in Peter Moores’ shoes, who would I pick? Well I’d look for something like this…

Alex Hales
James Vince
James Taylor
Joe Root
Eoin Morgan (c)
Jos Buttler (wk)
Ben Stokes
Scott Borthwick
Chris Jordan
Stuart Broad
Mark Footitt

I’d also have Moeen Ali, Alex Lees, Chris Woakes and James Harris around the squad too. It’s perhaps hardly revolution, more evolution, but surely it has more attacking intent to it? It’s just my two pence worth anyway.


A case for the defence.

In my ‘We Can Be Heroes’ post I spoke about heroes, or role models if you’d prefer. I also intimated that there are many people in the public eye – particularly in the sporting arena – where I would be less than impressed if any future child of mine asked for their name on the back of their shirt. I also specified that the football world was full of these characters.

Well, today I feel the need to set the record straight.

Today, through work, I have spent an hour of my time working with a professional footballer. He – I won’t name him but I know some people will know who he is – agreed to give up his time to come and work for a session with a girls football team that I help to run. He proceeded to jump in at the deep end, happily running the whole session, focusing on goalkeeping, and at the end of the practice every girl went home happy, vastly improved and caked in mud!

Furthermore, he then asked if he could come to the remaining sessions and said he’d even bring some session plans! Needless to say, both myself and my fellow coach were delighted and were extremely quick to take him up on the offer!

It’s such a shame that some footballers give the rest of them a bad name, as this gentleman was a credit to both his profession and his club. I’m already very excited for next Monday!