Month: July 2015

Blog no. 26: Diane Stewart

 Hello everybody, it’s Di here,

                                            So, if you take the week in Scarborough from Friday to Friday, here’s what has been going on for me this week. My week began with a relaxing day off, and the arrival of our eldest daughter, Tally’s, Exchange student from Austria. This is her second visit to stay with us, Tally had a wonderful stay with Daniela in Austria in December, and she will be with us until Thursday. They have lots of plans for the week, more of that later. 

                                            Saturday heralded a first for me. I had entered the Race for Life Pretty Muddy race, being held at York Racecourse, along with thousands of other women, and my five friends. We set off quite early on Saturday morning with trepidation, not quite knowing what we had let ourselves in for! We were just determined to have fun and raise some money for such a worthy cause. All we knew was that the course was 5 km long, with obstacles along the way, some of them muddier than others. Photos on the Internet showed people looking VERY muddy, so we were prepared for anything! We had made an executive decision that we wouldn’t worry about trying to run all the way, just to get from beginning to end. After a fun warm up, we took our starting positions at 12:15. 

And we were off…running…and we kept running, much to the surprise of us all! We had to get over things, crawl through mud under netting, climb up and over netted walls, tyre jump…you name it, it was there. Oh, and run quite a bit in between. We weren’t too muddy though, and were wondering when it was going to get REALLY dirty. That was saved until the last 2 obstacles- a sort of huge paddling pool filled with mud that we had to crawl through, and our favourite, the last one, a climb to a slide, landing in…you guessed it, a pool of mud! After a sprint finish, the sense of achievement, and that great feeling of working as a team was fantastic. I don’t know how I managed to keep my top so much cleaner than the others! Sadly, I had to dash home, as I was working in Hull later that evening, so I sat on my plastic bags in the car all the way home and had a very long shower. I would like to thank all the members of the audience, and the orchestra for their generous donations, which amounted to £230, which is fantastic. That brought our group total to £1392. If there is anyone who would still like to donate to Cancer Research, you can still do so at our Justgiving page



After Sunday’s 2 concerts, and the first outing of Butterfies in the Rain, and ferrying teenagers to and from Flamingoland…


…Monday brought the first Teddy Bears Picnic of the season. It was lovely to see the Suncourt full of dancing children, some of them visiting from Braeburn School, some from as far away as Spain, and we even had a special visit from Yorkshire Coast Radio’s DJ Dex.


On Tuesdays we only have a morning concert, so we’d planned a BBQ for the Austrian students and their partners in the evening. All plans were going well until suddenly, it looked a bit threatening and this happened! 


We thought the BBQ was doomed, but thankfully, the weather perked up, and all went ahead as planned, outside, until after 10. It was great to see them all together, some of them for the 3rd or 4th week spent together over the course of 18 months, so they were all getting to know each other as a group much better. A fantastic bunch! 
Next year our youngest daughter, Sophie is taking part in a French exchange programme. As my German is non existent, not that we needed it- their English is so fantastic- I’d better dust off those O level French text books! 
                                         Two more concerts on Wednesday, and always lovely to see familiar faces returning for another visit to the Spa. 

                                           Thursday morning meant a fond farewell to Daniela before the morning concert, but we will see her soon-she’s coming back in October to live with us for a month, so we can’t be that bad! Thursday was, as always, our request morning, and a very varied programme, leaning towards cello heavy, as it had been requested that I played 2 solos! I felt I deserved a treat, so a quick lunch with Mike at one of our favourite spots to build up the strength for the rehearsal for our Opera Gala. It was so nice to see Maria and Jeff again, and they sang beautifully throughout the action packed programme.   
A very enjoyable evening was had, and many people commented how much they had enjoyed the concert on the way out. 

                                       So, that is a week in the life of me, interspersed with bits of teaching, giving daughters lifts here there and everywhere, eating, sleeping! Still, this is the last week of term, so no more really early mornings after Friday! Hooray!! Here’s to the summer! 


Blog No. 25: Chloë Vanns

Hello all,
I’m normally the first person to write a blog but Mike has gladly beaten me to it this year! Once you’ve read my blog you’ll understand why… We’re hoping to give you an insight into life away from the spa (‘off the spa’ one might say), and for me that means teaching. 

When I started with the Spa Orchestra in 2011 I was convinced that I would be found out as not being good enough to play next to these amazing musicians, but in 2012 I was asked back and celebrated the orchestra’s centenary. As the seasons passed, it slowly has dawned on me that perhaps I’m here for as long as I wish. With that has meant a move over to Yorkshire, which I think is a beautiful part of the country, and the search for work to tide me over in the winter. As I mentioned last year, I have been fortunate enough to be working with the East Riding Music Service and since January I have been working four days a week. However, that has to continue in addition to the first few weeks of the season meaning I have had music coming out of my eyeballs since the start of June! I have just started my last week of term, and hopefully I won’t have to miss any more concerts after that, though I have found a great dep, Jonathan Sage who has been covering for me and doing a great job from what I hear.  
It really has been a last push through these past few weeks. On Friday I had three pupils sitting grade 1 exams. You would have thought the children would be nervous, but this is nothing compared to their poor teachers. I had to play piano for each of them which, after scraping through my grade 3 about 15 years ago, proves tricky. Being the end of term, various trips and sports days and performances get in the way of normal lessons so I had to make a few spaces where I could to fit in extra lessons. And after all that preparation, you have no control over how your students perform. Nevertheless, I have some great pupils who all pulled it out of the bag, in spite of their own nerves, and performed their hearts out. It should be a few weeks before we find out the results, but I am confident they will do well. 

In addition to teaching, I help run a music service wind band for players grade 2 – 5 and we have been rehearsing every fortnight since January for our summer concert on 12th July. This is something I really enjoy, and I have been working on my conducting with the ensemble. I think I am improving, and I will be conducting my most difficult piece yet next weekend, a medley from the musical ‘Wicked’. I have some great colleagues who have helped me enormously, and Mark from the orchestra can even be seen in our rehearsals encouraging a fantastic sound out of the young brass players. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how my arms wiggle really, it is how the band performs. Our very own orchestra proves how well musicians can perform without a ‘stick-waver’!

To summarise my hectic few weeks, since last Friday I have played a Peasholm concert plus 7 spa concerts, played an outdoor concert at Chatsworth House, conducted my wind band, taught 55 pupils plus 3 full classes, and done 3 exams. At music college, the buzz word was ‘portfolio’ career, meaning you had to diversify and have lots of different jobs to give yourself an advantage in a highly competitive profession; I think I have certainly achieved that.

Once more I am in awe of my incredibly talented colleagues who have shaped, and continue to inspire, the musician I am today. Thank you to all of you who support our orchestra, and who read this blog, we really wouldn’t exist without our loyal audience!