With Christmas done and Spring nearly in the air it’s time for me to share some news.

A few weeks before Christmas I travelled to Elgin in Morayshire to spend a day with John Mustard and the music instructors there. A lovely group of people and we spent the day at Elgin Academy, a recently built state-of-the-art secondary school on the outskirts of Elgin, where we considered some aspects of teaching and learning and why we do things the way we do. A while before that I spent a day with Artis mentors in Cirencester. And on both occasions I’m alway left wondering why such enthusiastic and well-informed people ie. Teachers, don’t get more recognition for the hard work they do and less interference from governments.

There’s also been some CME (Certificate for Music Educators) work for me, and work is proceeding slowly but surely on a book about adult learners of music. Just before the Christmas break I completed a delightful collaboration with Paul Harris, assisting him in the completion of three volumes for piano teachers or students, which are focused on the first three ABRSM piano grades. The books are published by Faber and just about to hit the shops. As ever, it’s been a pleasure to collaborate with Paul whose energy and enthusiasm enabled us to do the initial work, going through each of the nine pieces for each grade, without getting irritated and whilst enjoying his garden in the lovely summer weather last August. Thanks to speedy work from Faber, we were able to get through the proofs stage in the autumn and even complete the promo video clip in early December. The books are now available.

This year has started with the appointment of a new CEO for South West Music School, of which I’m a trustee, and some work in Worcester and Northampton in connection with the CME, for Trinity College. It’s very satisfying to see the CME getting underway at centres around the country and I’m sure it forms an ideal basis for a refreshment of thinking for many instrumental teachers.

In a related area, I’m interested to read of Darren Henley’s appointment to the Arts Council as I believe he’s one of the few people who has some real understanding of music education in this country. I remain largely unconvinced by the concept of Hubs, but Darren may see fit to support them and, more crucially support the idea of saving the teaching of ‘classical’ music in this country, which is, I fear, under serious threat.

In between times, I’ve said a rather sad farewell to Priscilla, my 1989 Morgan 4/4, who is now living in the USA, and I’ve been joined by ‘no name as yet’, a 1999 Plus 4 which has the slightly more powerful 2 litre engine and a few more trimmings. As one friend said: ‘Typical man, you’ve just traded her in for a younger model’. Well, true, I suppose.

A trip to Bruges in 2014, and many to the Isle of Wight, have been a delight and The Plus 5s gig band is busy with rehearsals for gigs in the first quarter of 2015. Dates are in the diary for travel to Harrogate, Brands Hatch and Stoke by Nayland, with the Plus 5s, and to Rome and also Puglia, just for rest, relaxation and cultural refreshment. There’s also a boys outing planned to northern France, travelling there and back by classic Jaguar, as part of two old friends’ sixtieth birthday celebrations.

Last summer, I experienced a few medical interventions but I’m pleased to say that normal service has now been resumed and I’m hoping for rather fewer NHS encounters, good though they were, in 2015.

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