On the Straight and Narrow

I’m not a violinist. Though I did pass Grade 5 in 1968, it took me another three years to reach grade 6 in 1971, a month after I started cello lessons. One year later I passed Grade 6 cello and, realising that doing both was not an option, there was no contest which to abandon.
So teaching violin, which I do at New College Worcester is hard for me. I have three violin pupils there, two had already started learning with the previous teacher, and a 6th form student who started learning only a few months ago. Demonstrating how to use the bow is very difficult with students who are unable to see what I am doing or watch themselves in a mirror. There has to be a certain amount of grabbing their elbows and physically pulling them into the right positions, though in this age of political correctness, a necessarily limited amount.

Just after I started teaching there, I talked to Stephen and one of my colleagues about the problem of keeping the bow at 90 degrees to the strings – I wanted a means of holding the bow in position while the pupil was playing and between us we came up with an ingenious concoction made of two chopsticks stuck to a chopstick rest, shaped to the belly of the violin and attached to the violin by devious means of a smearing of blu-tack. Young pupil K.C. was delighted with his “snake fangs” and they could be positioned either at the bridge or at the end of the fingerboard to stop the bow from sliding up or down.

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered a device properly thought out, designed, planned and manufactured for the job. It isn’t made from chopsticks – and it simultaneously stops the bow sliding up on to the bridge OR down on to the fingerboard. The college ordered two for me and this week they arrived.

The BOWZO was a huge success with both of my blind lads – K.C. asked if this was cheating and an enormous smile spread on C.S.G’s face instantly. “I don’t mind the neighbours hearing me practising now!” he said. I know how he feels – even I sound quite good!

I wrote to the people who make the Bowzo and asked if they make one for cello too as my partially sighted cellist has the same problem. They rang me back straight away to talk about it and have been in touch several times since. They hadn’t realised what a help to partially sighted and blind students this would be and are delighted to be able to help us. The college has now put them in touch with the music advisor at RNIB. Who knows where this may lead…

Published in: on June 28, 2009 at 7:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Jack and Jill Update

I have now had an email from the Australian Library to say that the music is still in copyright and I need permission from the publishers before they can send me a copy! Fortunately, J. Albert & sons of Sydney seems to still be in business 67 years after it was published – so I have now written to them for help.

The email is still wonderful but red tape, I could do without!

Published in: on June 28, 2009 at 5:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Wonders of the Internet

If you haven’t read the next article, I suggest you might want to do that before reading this one!

This morning (Tuesday 2nd June) I had an email from a lady called Carol from Liverpool, who had found my website during HER search for this wonderful lullabye. Her mother used to sing it to Carol’s children, though she remembers the words slightly differently.

An hour later, she sent another email – she had found that the Australian National Library had it listed and would supply copies.


Needless to say it is now on order!

The writers were Bernard Barry and Noel Jackson and the copyright date was 1942. I had tried Googling for this song but had put the first line in my search. Now I discover that if you put the “Jack and Jill” line it comes up with a link to Australia!

So thank you Carol, for finding my blog, thank you Carol for finding the link, and thank you Tim Berners-Lee for inventing the means by which all this could happen!

Now knowing who owns the words and music, of course if there is any objection, I will remove them from this site… but I rather hope that if this is noticed, the author will be tickled pink to know how much they are still loved by at least 8 people in the world that I know of!

Published in: on June 2, 2009 at 8:22 pm  Leave a Comment