The boys are back where we used to live for another holiday orchestra, also known as no lie-in. J is in the older choir for the first time, K in the younger one, both are doing gamelan (J would want me to point out that he did advanced gamelan), J does recorder and K plays cello in a string band – his first time of cello there.

It has been great as usual, although the driving’s a bit of a chore. So far we’ve not been late, although cut it fine a bit. K managed to leave his cello there, which a nice lady put away safely when I phoned up. Phew!

As well as the tuition and performing, there are mini concerts by professional musicians to inspire them. This year it was Steve Bingham on the violin. He had a normal violin, which he was brilliant on – attempting to accompany himself doing Owner of a Lonely Heart by Yes (which brought back memories of my teenage paper round, as 90125 was on my personal stereo at the time). He even did the weird percussive bit in the middle by drumming on the violin.

His main thing is using an electric violin, effects pedals, bass pedals (like on an electric organ) and some other bits and pieces (including a laptop) to record himself live and then loop the recording over and over, adding in many layers of other loops. By the time he’s added in the last layer it’s like he has a bionic violin – when he uses his bow it’s like a whole song comes out and not just one part. Also it’s an interesting combination of live and pre-prepared. He has some programming set up in his kit ready to accept music to record and then repeat, but the music itself is all live. He did a Danish folk tune, Clocks by Coldplay and Pachelbel’s canon – marvellous.

I’m glad that he did say several times that all the gizmos don’t matter if you don’t have the fundamental technique on the violin.

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