Sunday, December 16, 2018

Rembrandt Mini_Theatre

Rembrandt Mini_Theatre

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Saturday, September 1, 2018

Imagination skills for Children.

Title:            The adventures of Selwyn and Robert

Sub-title:     Selwyn and Robert Learn a Secret on the farm.

Val tell me about Selwyn and Robert Learn a Secret on the Farm?
Without giving too much of the story away, in a nutshell, it is how the boys are lured to a cave where they receive lessons from pixies who teach them imagination skills. These skills help Selwyn and Robert to inspire children who visit the farm to treat animals and other creatures with love and respect in a fun and exciting way.  They develop a loving relationship with the pixies.
What age group is it appropriate for?
I have a friend who read it to her granddaughter who was 3 years old. She didn’t want her to stop when it was time for lights out. Children of 7, 8 and 9 years old. can read it for themselves and enjoy it. A lovely easy read for children to develop their own reading skills.
Where can these books be purchased?   
They can be purchased from this Children's book link in both kindle and paperback format.   

Saturday, July 28, 2018

How my life was changed through the power of MUSIC!!!

Valerie you have had a passion for music all your life. Can you tell me where it all started?

I was born into a very musical family. My grandfather Richard Evans, was a trained singer who came to South Africa from Australia. He was assigned to sing the lead in Handel’s Messiah which took place annually, in Durban. He also sang in other roles.
He met my grandmother Marie Ellen Tissamen who was a piano accompanist. They married and moved to the country to experience farm life. Together, they had 12 children who were trained in singing by their father. They practiced each night for the family concert which was held in the local community hall each month.
My mother, Margaret, was their daughter, and I was born into this family environment. My Grandfather died before I was born but the singing practice continued.

How did their singing practice influence you?

Music may well have been in my genes, and influence came as I would watch my mother play; and when she left the piano I would sit and try to copy her — by ear. I was able to play a few songs by the time I was three and because of that was introduced into playing a song during their concert performances. It, most likely, also ignited an extreme love for piano music in me.

Did you go on to study the piano?

Because we lived so far from the nearest town I was sent to boarding school at a young age. I started piano lessons at the same time; and, as I played by ear, it came easily to me. My teacher would demonstrate the piece of music I was to learn, and  I would copy her. She never realised that I was playing by ear, until I did an exam, and I earned low marks for the sight-reading test.
If anyone asked me what I intended to do when I grew up; it was always, “I am going to be a concert pianist,” and my grandmother would then say to me, “You don’t practice properly so how will you ever develop into one.” I would reply simply, “God will make me into one.” I believe that this really showed a lack of commitment on an #emotional level.

Were you ever sorry that you played by ear?

At the time I was not, because I had a lot of fun just playing what I heard on the radio. This continued throughout my school years. It was only later that I realised; playing by ear created a lazy attitude towards serious study causing very bad habits to develop. This  diminished any form of discipline or the commitment required to reach concert level.

What did you do when you finished #school?

I did not have the necessary music qualifications required to be able to study music. I did a shorthand, typing and bookkeeping course and worked in the bank.
I met my husband and we were married a year later. Together, we had four children. Taking care of the family was my full-time career for a number of years.

Did you give up on music entirely during this period?

No. Although we didn’t have a piano, we had a tape recorder. I would record my singing and send the songs away for assessment.
They were created through trial and error and did not attract any recognition at all. I put it down to experience.
When my husband’s mother gave us her piano, it was exciting for me, because I could go back to playing by ear. .                                                                                                                                                       
We lived in a community with approximately two hundred other families. I was approached by a friend who asked me to teach her son the piano. I told her I couldn’t read music and was therefore not qualified to teach.. She insisted on my helping them, because there were no music teachers in the area. I then came to a decision to give up playing by ear and to study classical music. I was 30 years old at the time.
This was the beginning of my serious music study. I worked hard at that time and received a teachers diploma, in both Harmony and Practical, within 8 years of starting. I continued to teach and am still teaching advanced students the piano and voice.

At that stage did you still have the urge to be a concert pianist?

I never gave up on the idea of being a concert pianist, although I didn't do enough towards getting there, except by playing recitals which I wasn’t ready for. I did learn many lessons through the recitals though.
I was oblivious of the fact, that I was getting older I thought I was doing well with the amount of practice I was doing at the time I certainly had not achieved the 10,000 hours that Malcolm Gladwell speaks about in his book “Outliers”.


Did you have any other experiences that influenced your music?

I had never learned any form of dancing as a child. There was not enough money  for dancing lessons. I taught myself and enjoyed ballroom dancing so I could  hold my own at the local socials. However in my late 50's I joined a ladies' tap dancing group. We became known as the “Golden Girls,” Our teacher Gloria Fish entered us into a world tap dancing competition, in the seniors section, to be held in Reisa Germany. We won the seniors section in 1999 and a few more times after that.  All the girls travelled and lived together during that time, we became like family. I continued dancing with the same group for 14 years. This experience had a profound influence on my rhythmic ability for #composing music.

You spent many years as a singing teacher can you tell me about your journey teaching singing and how it influenced your music?

Singing came naturally to me, I didn’t study it when I was a child.
As I never got a matric I decided when I was 40 to do a B Mus degree. I needed to have matric to enroll. I found our that I could now write  a matric because of a mature age exemption. I needed 4 subjects to do so. I chose, Singing, English, Typing and Criminology. That was the time I studied singing.
I was asked to give singing lessons to one of my piano students. Through word of mouth it grew.
It was a blessing to me because of the intense breathing exercises and vocal chord exercises which I worked out to help them.
I did these exercises  with each student for 10 to 15 minutes before they began to sing their chosen songs.
It was because of these exercises I have developed the stamina and the art of sitting correctly at the piano. The breathing exercises have become an automatic behavior.

Did you ever go on to get a B Mus degree.

No! on reading the syllabus decided I wouldn't have much time left for the piano. This information was the deciding factor.

When did you begin to compose music?

I was blessed to be able to make up songs easily while growing up, so perhaps that showed a natural ability.  I began to compose more in the 1980's. At that time I wrote songs of a lighter nature and became a member of the “South African Music Rights Organisation.” Through them I began to earn royalties. However, because I did not put in sufficient practice, my technical ability to play classical music, or even to perform my own pieces, was not too successful. In 1990 When Nelson Mandela was released from prison I was inspired to write a song at the time of his release. The song was called "Greatest Gift." Although it was registered with the South African Music Organisation at the time it wasn't marketed. My intention is to market it this year. The year of Nelson Mandela's 100th birthday.                                                              


What was your dream at this stage?

All I wanted to do was play music up to a good technical standard, so that I could share a musical sound that would make a difference in peoples' lives. I created a programme called “Scenic Sounds.” It was a movie of natural scenes with accompanying live piano music; that I played. People said they enjoyed it, but I knew my technical ability wasn’t up to the standard, that I had set myself, to play well. Because of a lack of belief in myself and my piano playing “Scenic Sounds,” did not succeed.
In the back of my mind I always wanted to perfect the programme and recommence it in the future. I really believed that it could make a difference in peoples' lives.

I also see that you wrote some Children’s books. Tell me about them.  


When I was young I used to make up stories to tell my young cousins and other children. I decided in the early 2000's to bring these stories back to life and write them down. The books were illustrated by a very talented young artist. This was a rewarding time of my life. They have been published, and are available on Amazon. They can be found on Children's Book's

After you completed the children’s books you wanted to share, what did you do then?

I continued to teach; and became very involved in coaching vocalists. My teaching, in both piano, theory and singing, went from strength to strength. I also felt a greater urge to write Self Help books which I will focus on very shortly.

Did you spend many hours practising during this time? 

Perhaps an hour a day, at the most. I became very interested in teaching advanced harmony and teaching piano for students doing teachers exams. Teaching harmony was a passion for a number of years. During this time I composed a few more pieces.

Did you study anything else besides music?

I did do extensive study on the Mind/Brain, the Brainwaves and Subconscious mind on which I gave talks at Shanthi Holistic centre in Bedfordview Johannesburg.
I received Diploma’s in Meditation, Hypnotherapy and Sound/Colour Therapy through the British School of Yoga.. I also studied the influence that Music has on lowering stress levels. This made me all the more keen to develop Scenic Sounds. 
I realised the power of the mind and became passionate about learning more about the brain and brainwaves and energy center (Chakra) frequencies. I then created Binaural beats as part of this process to help to re-programme the subconscious mind. I also found that it was possible to combine my compositions and video's with the Binaural Beat Experience. I found that Monaural Tones go into the lower brainwave states such as Theta and Delta which can help take one into an immediate meditative state. I have these cd's available to help people to meditate easily.
I also have a strong desire to write self help  books on these subjects to help people to get a better understanding of the power of the mind.


When did you decide to commit yourself to regular and dedicated piano practice?

My husband presented me with a Christmas gift to spend a day with Dr. John Demartini on the World Yacht which was docked in Cape Town in 2012. During that day, Dr. Demartini asked me what I wanted to do and achieve most of all. I told him of my passion to play the piano well. He asked me how much time I gave to it each day. I told him; and he said that to achieve anything, one has to be
committed to it full-time; which indicated to me, at least 6 hours a day. He said, if I followed that pattern I would make a success of it. This was a turning point in my life. Although I was unable to do 6 hours, I made a regular practice of 4 or 5 hours per day. After the first year the difference was noticeable. I still held the occasional piano recital but I was still not satisfied with my own technical ability. I did realise, however, that without an outstanding technique it would not matter how talented one is, it would just not be possible to play music that has a tone and flow that people could really enjoy and feel a difference at an emotional level.

What brought you to where you are now?

I thought that if I committed myself to playing a Diploma exam, I would feel obliged to put in more practice hours; which would develop the habit for practicing regularly. I have chosen to play the Trinity College fellowship in October 2018. The programme is difficult and takes a great deal of commitment. Once or twice I have reached 10 hours of practice but it is mostly 5 or 6 hours a day. The commitment has created a turning point in my life.


Have your various studies not acted as a distraction to your original goal of being a concert pianist?

No, I actually think they were a growing experience in order to give me a
greater understanding of myself and others. They also helped me to focus on areas I studied while I was playing so that the vibrations from the music and colour would be transmitted to the people through their enjoyment and participation. Although I personally have an understanding of this knowledge, it is not necessary to comment on it. It is a natural universal gift which flows through all of us. I believe that I am just an instrument for doing what I need to do; there is no time limit, and everything is done at the right time; we all have our tasks and need to do them to the best of our ability; no task is more important than the other and whatever one chooses is right for them; the important thing is that we do it for the good of ourselves and all mankind.

Because of all that has taken place do you feel ready to launch a new Scenic Sounds yet?

I don’t think that a performer is ever completely happy. Through the experience I realise my growth in technique and feel much happier with the musical sound I am able to give. I am thankful for the work I need to do each day towards the Fellowship. This has added considerably towards my technical growth. I also feel that this is just the beginning of what I would like to achieve. Now that the  practice habit has formed I will continue to practice and develop it to as high a level as I am capable of. I still want to play more of Beethoven’s and Chopin’s music as well as the other composers I love. Yes! We are launching Scenic Sounds again shortly.


Are you only going to use Scenic Sounds as a brand name for Meditation and Relaxation programmes.?

No not at all. Because of my intense interest in the brainwave’s and their influence on the state of our emotions and health.  I felt inspired to create binaural beat CD’s which influence the brainwave vibrations into various states from deep Delta meditation frequencies right up into high Gamma frequencies which create alert concentration within the people who are using it. I am also creating Monaural and Isochronic tones which are equally, if not more influential on the listener.  I combine brainwave entrainment tones with beautiful scenes and music to give the client a deeper experience. These will also fall under the Scenic Sounds brand name.

Isn’t Scenic Sounds taking away from your original goal of being a concert pianist?

Scenic Sounds video 

No; I won’t be physically accompanying it. I have recorded all the music that will be heard on Scenic Sounds DVD’s on my Yamaha Portable Grand DGX-640 electronic piano.    .

What is your ultimate aim with regard to your music recitals.

As a piano teacher, composer and performer I would like nothing better than to help people develop the ability to listen to classical music and enjoy it.
Listening to classical music can be enjoyed to the fullest if one has a little knowledge of how to listen to the different aspects that the performer will be sharing through his recital.
With a deeper understanding the members of the audience will enjoy the experience more fully.
I would like to provide some of this information to the audience, which hopefully in time classical concerts will have a greater attendance.
I trust that this experience will  help to make a difference in peoples lives.   


Are your Piano Recitals and Music Appreciation your final goal?

No; I have a great desire to compose music for orchestra. This is my ultimate composing goal. I will start working on that in 2019. The study and application of Harmony has become extremely important to me. I also have a passion for helping people to grow in their ability to listen to and understand classical music on an emotional level.


You are older than most performers and composers. Is this a problem?

No, I don’t think so. I believe that the pattern, that has kept me dedicated
to music speaks for itself. I am grateful for the experience that has enriched my life, with many blessings. I give thanks for the love and encouragement from my family, the enjoyment of my 7 wonderful grandchildren and the wonderful people who have touched my life and kept my enthusiasm going.
The only difference is that sharing my music has manifested at a different time with different perspectives — I am committed to making a difference by using the fingers to tell a story and to help people to understand that it is never too late to achieve anything that we commit to. I feel we are all only an instrument chosen to provide happiness in whichever way we can towards the good of all mankind.

Do you have the time available to contact folks who would like to know more about your work?

I don’t have much time to look at my social media chats, but on my website I have links to emails that people can send to me at any time. They come straight to my mail box. 
Anyone who has questions or think I can help them in anyway I will be happy to answer as many of them as possible..

Finally, where can people download or stream your music or watch video’s?

My music can be found on my website.       Links to stream my music

Trailers to videos and video downloads.       Video trailers and downloads

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Thank you Valerie for the interview. I get the feeling that your life has been destined for music. As much as you have yearned for it yourself, it keeps coming to you by one means or another.