Christopher Bill’s amazing “Happy” Trombone Loop!

There are loads of ways to make exciting and enjoyable music – we all know it’s great fun to sing in a band and play in orchestras and we are all well versed in the art of shower singing, but a very talented Trombonist has introduced us to his super cool way of making tracks – with a looping program called Ableton Live 9. Have a listen to his ingenious arrangement of Pharrell Williams’ song, “Happy”.

Christopher Bill, the trombonist you’re watching in the above video, is a classically trained trombone player currently studying at the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music in New York City. If you enjoyed “Happy” then why not check out his YouTube channel? You’ll find delights such as Frozen’s hit track “Let It Go”, constructed of nothing but clicks, claps and some very skillful Trombone playing.

If you’re really impressed and want to try it yourself, check out audio loop programs such as Ableton Live 9Ambiloop and ReCycle have a go!


Nora The Piano Cat

Music is used by people of all walks of life as a creative outlet, as a means of expression and for entertainment. From new born babies napping to Mozart, to the great virtuosos like Paganini stunning audiences all over the world, music is for everybody – but had you ever heard of a musical cat? We hadn’t, until we discovered Nora the Piano Cat.

Nora was adopted from an animal shelter as a kitten, and despite being a right handful, proved herself to be very talented indeed. She used to watch her owner Betsy teach the piano, and one day decided to have a go at playing it herself. Nora soon became a YouTube sensation and was spotted by Lithuanian conductor, composer and artist Mindaugas Piečaitis, who wrote “CATcerto”, a very special piece of music featuring Nora and her talents. The world premiere of CATcerto was performed by Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra in the Klaipėda Concert Hall in Klaipėda (Lithuania) on 5th June, 2009. Have a watch!

So, if Nora can do it, what’s to say your pets can’t? Who knows, you might have an international star kipping in your cat basket.

On another musical animal related note, an abandoned dog found at Glastonbury Festival has been promised a new home with country singer Dolly Parton after it was named in her honor. Read more about Dolly and doggy Dolly here!

Tim Vine’s Marvelous Metronome

We just discovered a funny sketch by Tim Vine about his not-so-marvelous “Marvelous Metronome” – have a watch!

We hope that your metronome works a little better than Tim’s, but if not, check out these free metronome apps that you can download for iPhone or Android.

iPhone/iPad Metronome

Android Metronome

If you’re thinking of buying a traditional metronome, have a look at the various designs available on the MusicRoom website – they come in all shapes, sizes and colours!

The Rig

In case you’re not already aware of it, Becky and fellow musician Amy Kelly have been inspiring kids and grown ups everywhere with their innovative, interactive junk percussion installment, The Rig. We are delighted to announce that Becky and Amy have just received confirmation of a grant from Arts Council England to develop four new mini rigs which are wheelchair friendly and suitable for tiny tots. Have a look!IMG_6090-4They have also received funding for an 11 days school tour of schools in Lambeth and Greenwich during May and will also be visiting the children of Great Ormond Street Hospital, which is very exciting news indeed.


The Rig is full of exciting and fun things to discover and sounds to make. Have a look at The Rhythm Rig and The Bells Rig!

The Rhythm Rig IMG_6140-26The Bells, The Bells!! IMG_6162-32If you like what you see and want to discover more, have a watch of these two videos demonstrating different Mini Rigs, the Rhythm Mini Rig and the Tin Can Telephone Mini Rig!



It’s A Crying Shame

Stephanie Legg

I am a self-confessed lunchtime concert addict and I think in the time my addiction has grown, I have not only attended an insane amount of concerts but unfortunately I have also witnessed some rather disappointing human behaviour. For example……Would you take a very small child to a classical concert? Perhaps you thought, ‘It’s a Saturday afternoon and as there happens to be a free lunchtime recital of Chopin at our local church, what a nice and affordable way of exposing my child to some classical music’. Good choice.

However, should your child make even the slightest noise during the performance, it may not be the performer who is particularly phased but the elderly gentleman sat in the row behind who might become very vocal about the ‘choices you are making as a parent’. His opinions are possibly interrupting the performance more than your child at this point. You might think this is a rather ridiculous scenario but it is one that I have seen a handful of times.

I’m talking mostly about out-spoken audience members. The kind that should someone show up late…..well, if looks could kill….or god forbid you should clap between movements, you may as well never show your face in this town again. For me, it all seems to fall under the ‘classical music snobbery’ umbrella.

I find this all rather baffling as the perpetrators I am discussing here are perhaps not classically trained musicians like myself, but simply regulars of these lunchtime concerts. I can understand how this may be their peace and quiet time and that putting up with a child’s wailing would be less than ideal, but is it really the parent’s fault for attempting to add some culture into the lives of their children?

On this particular day in question, as the performer was half way through Chopin’s Aeolian harp etude, the child in question was half way through the tantrum etude. Now I will be completely honest, I was getting a little irritated but, although this could just be the polite English stereotype, I would never in my wildest dreams open my mouth and blast a mother for having the audacity to bring her child to a concert and not leave, simply because the kid wasn’t deadly silent.

It is a difficult situation as on one hand, it’s great because these concerts get people out of the house and enjoying the arts, especially from a young age. On the other hand, there are existing organisations such as Mini Mozart, which are classes that parents can take their babies and young children to, where everyone can enjoy classical music and story telling. The only issue here is that, guess what? People have to go to work during the week – which is when most of these classes take place. To find a free Saturday lunchtime concert nearby and to not make the most of it because you are worried that others may judge you if your child cries, isn’t right.

If we want children today to grow up with a balanced education, an appreciation of the arts and the ability to develop their own thoughts and opinions then we have to compromise. Do we want to enjoy lunchtime concerts with no interruptions and have to scare mothers away in order to achieve this? Or do we want to encourage and inspire a generation of people who love music from an early age and maybe have to put up with a little bit of background noise now and again?

I am a self-confessed lunchtime concert addict and believe that classical music is for everybody.

If you’re interested in bringing your child along to free lunch time recitals, have a look on the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance’s website for information on free lunchtime concerts happening in and around Greenwich.

If you liked “Let It Go” from Frozen, read this!

If you’re a Disney fan, there’s no doubt you love their new animation film, “Frozen” – we certainly do. We’re big fans of New York born actress and singer Idina Menzel, the voice of princess Elsa in the film. If you like the songs “Let It Go” and “For The First Time In Forever”, who not check out her other stuff?

Not only does she portray the beautiful blonde animated Elsa, but can be seen on stage as the eerily green skinned yet gold-hearted witch Elphaba in the Broadway hit musical “Wicked”, for which she won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical in 2004 – Becky and Louise both independently went to see her in it and loved every second. “Defying Gravity” brought us to tears!

Glee fans will also be delighted to hear that she plays Rachel’s mother, Shelby. Why not have a listen to their duet version of Lady GaGa’s “Poker Face”?

It doesn’t stop there – she starred in the original Broadway cast of “Rent” as Maureen and has just opened a new show on Broadway, “If/Then”. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed and hope that it comes over to the West End some time soon! There has also been talk of “Frozen: The Musical”, which we are very excited to hear more about. If you’re into musical theatre then she’s definitely one to watch and to draw inspiration from. Who knows, one day you might be up on stage with her!

Patatap – Become your own sound and colour DJ using this free website!

Here at the BDMA we’re always looking out for fun new music apps, websites and creative games to help with learning, or simply for fun! Our brass and piano tutor, Sarah Campbell has found this cool music website – Patatap is a portable sound and animation kit that is compatible with any laptop, smartphone or tablet. Using your keypad or touch screen to activate it, you can experiment with a wide range of sounds and create your own unique beats and melodies while simultaneously creating fun and colourful animations on screen. Why not give it a go at – it’s completely free and lots of fun!

When we’ve been experimenting at the BDMA HQ, we’ve found that certain parts of the screen are linked to different sounds and colours, it’s not just random sequences. Have fun and let us know if you discover anything else!

photo 1 photo 2 Patatap 1

Round up of the Music Education Expo 2014

I was at the Music Education Expo at The Barbican in February 2014 and saw some cool stuff I thought I’d share with you.

First of all here’s a super cool Korg piano I saw. It has 25 patches (sounds) only a couple of octaves and about £250 but how cute!


I also saw some great flute cases by a company called Beaumont, they range from between £20 – £30 and have toughened zips, padded carry handle cases and address tags. The same company also do neck straps for saxophones and cleaning cloths for all instruments.  They also sell great student flutes.

Also check out this webiste A website for pianists, teachers, students and piano enthusiasts.

At the Steinway’s stand, there was this little 7 year old girl who was Grade 8 standard and practiced for three hours everyday. Wow doesn’t cover it! Was a bit speechless!

Grade 8 girl


The pTrumpet and pBone are the latest developments in learning brass instruments. They are lightweight starter trombones and trumpets that are  made of plastic and much easier to maintain and hold. They can take you up to about Grade 3 before you need to switch to a metal version.

I also went to two great seminars, one on using Nero Linguistic Programming (NLP) techniques to help overcoming your student’s fear of performing, and one about dyslexia and Music. The results of studies now being undertaken are showing that doing music three times a week can massively help with dyslexia as it increases your temporal processing, phonological skills and literacy skills.

I hope you find some of this useful and please feel free to pass onto anyone who is interested in flutes, mini pianos, plastic brass instruments (oxymoron much) and music education.


iReal Pro – a great jazz chords app

iReal Pro is an app for iPhone, iPad, Android and OS X that is jam packed full of useful functions for musicians. Not only can you use it to store and view chord progressions, but you can also play them back at any tempo, key and feel. Even more amazingly, you can type in your own chord progressions and play them back too, which means that it’s a brilliant device for composers! The app simulates a real-sounding band, so it’s a great tool for singers who want to practise with a band but don’t have one to hand. One of my favourite functions is iReal Pro’s ability to store playlists, so you can make set lists for gigs, repertoire lists and lists of your favourite tunes and store them all in one place. There is also an inbuilt mixer, so if you want to turn up or down the guitar, piano, bass or drums then you can with easy sliding bars. You can also replace the drums with a click track if you so wish.

iReal Pro is brilliant for jazz musicians who want to go and join in at jams as thousands of tunes are easily downloadable from an online forum completely free. I recommend iReal Pro to anyone who teaches, too, as practising playing along with a band is not only beneficial but is great fun!

Like what you read? This amazing app can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play for around £5 – an absolute bargain for what has come to be recognised as one of the very best practise tools around. Why not download it and give it a go?

To download 1300 jazz standards for free, (yes really) click on the “Forums” button, choose “Jazz” and then click on “Jazz 1300 standards”. There should be a link that you can click which downloads all of the tunes instantly! (It’s split into four links for Android).

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