Monday, 2 January 2017

Farewell 2016... Hello 2017!

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my fellow bloggers and readers!

May 2017 be a better year for all! May you all have a happy, positive and peaceful year, no matter what happens.

Remember how I said I had big plans for 2016? Well, sadly, that kind of fell through because I had several distractions throughout the year. For one thing, I'm a terribly slow reader. I've got multiple books on the go, that includes novels, music, musician biographies, etc. I think 2017 will be the year I start reading one book at a time and I might have a better chance at getting them all finished. With multiple books on the go, I tend to forget certain things I've read, mainly in the music education books, so those particular books I'll have to re-read to take them in. 

For me, 2017 will be the year I throw myself into things I want to do.  This will include more practice on the guitar as I still feel like a beginner.  I was given the guitar close to one year ago by my brother, Beau. It wasn't a gift but rather, he passed on to me as he no longer wanted it.  I LOVE it but I do need to be more disciplined at playing it on a regular basis.

I purchased a couple of MIDI controllers made by Novation throughout 2016. With them came Ableton Live 9 Lite, a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), which pretty much turns your computer into a home recording studio.  It can create MIDI music and audio music also. I'll tell you more about those products in a future post.  I will be learning more about all these products as I put them through their paces this year. I want to be able to actually finish music that I've created and know that it's worth it.

On top of that, I look forward to singing again with the Mater Hospital's Sing For Health Choir and also hopefully joining a local choir earlier in the year.

I also want to lose more weight as I've still got a fair bit to go before I get down to my goal weight of 71kg. I'll talk more about what's given me the push in a future post.

Well, that's it from me, I hope to keep you up-to-date each week with what I'm up to, voice my opinions on any music related issues and other things that I care about. You can expect some reviews of albums too by artists I enjoy listening to.

Take care all, and may you have a happy, peaceful, prosperous 2017!

Love and peace to you all!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Choir Performances And Outings

Hi everyone! 

I'm really sorry it's taken me a while to do another blog post. So much for trying to keep you all up-to-date regularly, but I'll try to improve on that score. I do enjoy posting on my blog and I am determined to get into a habit of more regular posting. The last thing I want to do is wait until the beginning of next year to start again.

Anyway, all has been going fine for me since my last blog post with a few specialist appointments, including an ophthalmologist appointment back in early March. All is good as my eye sight is pretty much static. I do worry about the future though, especially when I get older, when eyesight tends to deteriorate as you age. I'm told this will happen with me too and, when that happens, I'll have to become more reliant on screen readers and audiobooks. I shall cross that bridge when I come to it, so I shouldn't let it worry me now. I want to fill my days with as much music as I can, be it creating music, singing in choirs, jamming with family and friends or anything else that may take my fancy. I have, in recent weeks, been dealing with severe Tinnitus in my left ear. It's been frustrating, but I'm dealing with it as best I can with techniques my Occupational Therapist  told me to use after I had a bad Tinnitus bout 3 years ago before the Mater Choir started.

You all may remember my last few posts of 2015, where I was talking about being part of a choir run by my friend Alyssa. Well, this year, I've joined her other choir, which is called Let's Get Singing! I've been having a lot of fun learning songs like Michael Jackson's "Man In The Mirror", Moving Pictures' "What About Me", Cyndi Lauper's "True Colours" among others.  However, I had to temporarily put attending Let's Get Singing on hold from mid-May, as Mum and I had also started back with the Mater Sing For Health Choir for our 3rd year. Unfortunately both choirs were on the same day so it wasn't doable.

Our June performance with the Mater Mother's Sing for Health choir
Photo courtesy of Mater Mothers Facebook page.

One of the songs we did with the Mater choir is called "You Raise Me Up", which has been sung numerous times over the years.  The ones I mostly know of are Josh Groban and Westlife. We also performed a song written by Pete Churchill called "Dig Deep" plus a few shorter songs I'd never heard before. The performance day on June 15 went very well. We had a great time, as always. We actually had a specially requested performance date after that, which fell on my Birthday, August 15. All went pretty good, though not all our choir showed up, but we still sounded great! Now that's done, we're be on break until mid-November when we start preparing for the Christmas season and I'm looking forward to it.  

I've recently rejoined Let's Get Singing, all good as we've also been doing other songs!

Apart from choir performances, Mum, my brother Aaron and I, have been on a few nice day outings to our regular relaxation spots we often go to. We often go to a place out country called Burgess Park. People can camp there if they want, or spend through the day. We went there back in June. The great thing there is we can take our two much-loved dogs, Cody and Jack, when we go. We often get KFC chips on the way, stop at the nearby park for a little while, then go to Burgess Park to relax. Mum would sketch, I'd read. 

Burgess Park

We all also went to Wellington Point, our favourite bayside area. We had a wonderful time, Mum sketched (check out her blog to see what great sketches she has done), and I read more of my songwriting book. It was a beautiful day out, perfect weather! We took along a nice picnic lunch. In the old days, we used to enjoy fish & chips when going to Wellington Point, but nowadays, it's a nice healthy picnic if we don't feel like chips.  

Wellington Point - view of the jetty

Wellington Point - the beach side

Me on the walking trail at Wellington Point

We've also recently gone for a nice walk around the lake at Forest Lake, where we've seen different birds, swans, lizards and Mum and Aaron even see turtles in the water. I sadly can't see them very well.

Black swans with cygnets

Partial view of Forest Lake

Back briefly on the subject of music and choirs, August was special to me as it has been a year ago since my performance as part of Under This Sky - Logan's Musical Celebration. I was part of a mass choir of at least 300 voices singing 3 songs at the end of the show. I thought I'd share with you some footage from the show. For those interested, I'm in "Pachelbel's Chanson", "I Have A Dream" and "Get There From Here"! That show, done for 2 nights in a row to the public, was a massive highlight of 2015 for me and still brings a smile to my face and excitement! I'd do it all again if I could.

A part video from the Under This Sky celebration

Well, that'll be it from me for now, I hope to be posting again very, very soon! 
Until then, take care and stay safe wherever you are in the world.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Big Plans Are Coming For Me In 2016

Hi everyone!

WOW! 2016 is here and do I have a lot I want to get done this year. For those who brought in the New Year, I hope you all had a wonderful time, however you spent it. I'm the type of person who loves to party when it comes to New Year's Eve or birthday parties, etc. Even if everyone is just sitting around and no one intends to dance, if music is playing and a great, upbeat song comes over the speakers, I'll either be moving in my seat or (if it's OK with everyone there) up dancing. If the song is good, I just can't help myself! I brought in the New Year with Mum and Aaron (my brother). Mum and I played Yahtzee that evening before putting on party music and dancing until the Countdown. Aaron came and joined us for the Countdown. I was having radio problems, so thankfully Mum was able to save the day by getting a clock app for her phone that showed the seconds! We cheered in the New Year and then played Yahtzee again, one of our favourite games. As Mum and I intended on staying up to greet the dawn (I usually do that each year, it's a bit of a tradition to me), we even watched a DVD. I think it was after 6am that I went to bed for a few hours.

All my life, I've always been drawn to music, whether upbeat or slow, it just draws me. Even now, if I go to a gathering and music is playing, if I find it hard to jump into a conversation, I'll often just sit and focus on the music for a little bit. I'm usually quiet when people converse, however, I'll listen and try to involve myself when I can. If I can't join the conversation, I will let the music take over. I view music as my saviour when those situations happen.

While my last post of 2015 was reflecting on the year gone by, I'd like to focus now on what I hope lies ahead for 2016. My plans for this year have me motivated and excited for what is to come! I mentioned in my last post about the Mater Hospital Sing For Health Choir that Mum and I are a part of. We'll be looking forward to reconvening with that great group of people mid-year.  On top of that, I feel I want to get other things happening and, no surprise, it's all music-based. I'm actually quite excited about it!

I'm breaking away from doing web design as I'm done with trying to build one. Around 2003, when I got into web design, I was into MIDI music, which is basically music made by a keyboard/synth stored in .mid files as Note On/Note Off signals, and those are played back either through the computer sound card's built-in Soft-Synthesiser or a keyboard attached to the computer. I wanted to make a MIDI website featuring MIDI files to download. Some time later, I'd created a website that I thought was ready to publish, then my computer of that time failed, so I lost everything. I've been trying since then to still make websites, having even paid for a HTML editor, but never had the same spark, I can't even think of what to make a website about anymore. The enthusiasm is totally gone, not to mention the ever-changing web technologies I'd have to re-learn. I learned HTML 4, then there was XHTML, now HTML 5, and trying to make websites suitable for screens of all sizes. When I got into web-design, the only things you could view a website on was a desktop computer or a laptop. My website developing days are over and I'm about to start on a new venture...

Songwriting and music creation!

Yes, I'm finally trying my hand at something I wish I'd tried to do back in 2002.  I wish I'd shown more of an interest in music creation and songwriting back then but maybe I wasn't meant to at the time. I feel nowadays, technology is giving me the resources at my fingertips to help me out. Back then, there were probably only a few books about songwriting, but nowadays, there's probably more books and e-books on the subject, not to mention websites dedicated to songwriting tips, and podcasts to listen to on the subject and dedicated computer programs/mobile apps specifically designed for songwriting.  As far as the music creation is concerned, there's books, websites and podcasts dedicated to it. Also, YouTube is a great help if you want to learn quickly on how to use your recently purchased music composing/creating software.

I feel quite motivated to do it and I can't wait! I may let you all know each week how I'm progressing. Depending on how things go, I may share something with you of the progress, depending on how I feel I'm doing at the time. When I go on outings with Mum, while she's sketching, I'll be trying to find inspiration and writing thoughts down or using Garageband on my iPad to capture any music that comes to mind. I feel I'd much rather make use of that time doing things like that rather than reading or playing games on the iPad. I'll share with you all whatever books I may read, either novels or on the subject. I recently purchased a book called The Complete Idiot's Guide to The Art of Songwriting.  I'm really looking forward to seeing what advice it may give!

I'd like to get myself into a local choir that runs in the evenings if I can too. I love being part of a choir for the singing and also the happy feeling I get, along with the health benefits.  So as you can see, I have a big year ahead! As long as I practice the art of songwriting every day, along with practicing on the guitar and bongos, I know I'll get much better. So stay tuned for next week and see what I have to say then! Until then, I hope you all have a great week.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015 - A Bag Of Mixed Emotions

WOW! Where has the year gone? It seems like, even though the year went quite fast, I felt a mixed bag of emotions throughout the year. I've had a few down moments and crazy moments, but there were happy times too, probably not as many as I would have liked. However, life goes on and hopefully 2016 will be a much better year! I thought I'd share with you some of those moments as I do consider them to be worthy to talk about:

First of all, my dear Granddad passed away back in April. Mum did a very beautiful tribute to Granddad over on her blog back in April. I have many fond memories of Granddad over the years and I'll treasure those memories forever. Even when we used to visit him in the Aged Care Home, we had some good times that I'll never forget, and we visited him quite often. Even though we knew his time was coming, nothing would prepare us for the grief we all felt that day. I still think of Granddad and miss him everyday.

In November 2014, I'd gotten back in touch on Facebook with a friend whom I haven't seen since I graduated from high school back in 2002. Alyssa told me that she was running a couple of choirs and invited me to join one of them if I wanted to. In June, I really wanted to join a local choir, so I asked Alyssa if I could still join one of her choirs.  She told me that her choirs were preparing to sing in a major event as part of the Queensland Music Festival in August, so there wasn't much time left. When I joined, we went straight into rehearsing mode for the Queensland Music Festival songs. The event was called "Under This Sky - Logan's Musical Celebration", written and performed by the Logan community. I was told it was going to be filmed and broadcast nationwide across Australia, I was quite excited to take part in such a huge event.

Our choir would perform with the 300-voice Massed Choir (made up of several choirs around Logan, community choirs, school choirs, etc). The rehearsals took a lot of commitment and dedication, and I was mighty happy to be part of it all! "Under This Sky" took place at the Logan Brothers Rugby League Field on August 1 and 2, with a preview night on July 31 for the sponsors of the event! Mum and Grandma both came to the Preview and the first night opened to the public, my brothers came along with Mum on the Sunday night, August 2! Being the middle of Winter, we were all rugged up warmly as it was very cold. The show's theme was based around a day in the life of the people of Logan City. The show was a huge success! The Massed Choir was in the Finale, performing 3 songs; "Pachelbel's Chanson", "I Have A Dream" (no, not the ABBA song, this was totally original) and "Get There From Here". On both nights, I left the stage on a high. It was an awesome experience that will remain with me forever and I'm very grateful to Alyssa for giving me the opportunity to be a part of it all.

After "Under This Sky", the next big thing was my sister Michelle gave birth to another baby girl named Mackenzie Eve Hallmond! That makes me a proud uncle of her 3 girls! I always have fun with Mikayla & Maddy and look forward to many more happy times with all 3 girls as they grow up!

And to round off the year, Mum and I performed in the Mater Hospital 'Sing For Health' Choir. We come together twice a year and practice for 5 weeks performing on the 6th week, usually in the Mater Mothers Hospital foyer. Our Christmas performance entailed 7 carols; "Star Of Bethlehem", "Angel Carol", "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear", "Jingle Bells", "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing", "Night Of Silence" and "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer". We performed at 5 different venues around the Mater Hospital in the last week and they were all a great success! It's always a pleasure to sing with a great group of people! I look forward to hopefully doing more performances with the Sing For Health choir next year.

Photo courtesy of Mater Queensland

A couple of weeks ago, my brother Beau gave me his classical guitar that he's had for a while. Though I've dabbled in guitar playing in the past, I was a little scared of strings snapping, but I'm trying again and hopefully will get better as I keep going. So far, I've been enjoying playing it and have already tried playing a couple of songs! Thanks for the guitar, Beau!

I still love playing my Bongos though, so they will still get a regular workout.

As 2015 draws to a close, I have big plans for 2016, but I'll tell you about them in future posts. Until next time, please stay safe and I hope you all have a Happy New Year!
May 2016 be a great year!