Welcome to my BLOG

These are strange times, so I thought I’d try to keep in contact with all the lovely people I usually spend my time with, but because of the Coronavirus, we can’t meet. My diary is abruptly and unexpectedly blank – like I’ve just committed a crime and am out of circulation. So what am I going to do with all these empty hours, days, weeks and possibly months?

Well I’m going to keep up a blog so that those of you who are interested and want to keep in touch, can share some of my interests and, if you like, you can share your comments. Let’s say, once a week, I’ll write a new blogpost and tell you what I’m working on; what I’m listening to; what I’m planning post isolation (which will probably involve you). I might post a video of me practising the organ – come inside All Saints’ Church in Eastbourne and hear what I’m working on. I might link you to a recording of a piece of music I’m listening to and tell you why I like it. I could even ask a musical friend to write something so that you can get an insight into their world. And best of all, I can suggest some ways that you can maintain your singing at home so that you keep your voice in good shape, and to keep up your enthusiasm for music.

If you would like to see what I’m up to, you can subscribe to my blog, and you’ll get an email each time I post, with a link to it. And of course, if you subscribe (there’s no cost), you will then be able to send me comments in reply.


  1. Great idea, Nick. Well done.
    I have been for a brisk walk along the seafront and have just arrived home exhausted.
    Last night I found on YouTube Tom Daley’s video of some exercises we can do during these long lonely hours. He demonstrates with the greatest of ease, but my efforts this morning before I went out made it clear that they are far too advanced for the likes of me – I’d kill myself if I carried on! Will have to adapt them. Here’s the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yH6DSmtR0IU. But who knows when the Lewes Chamber Choir meets next I might look like Tom Daley!
    I’m trying to re-learn a few movements of the Beethoven Sonatas I learnt in my 20s! I feel I have a far greater understanding of them now, but, oh dear! technique is wanting.
    Sorry to say that the installation of my new kitchen is postponed. I’m disappointed, but know it’s the best thing.
    Look forward to hearing form you.
    Best wishes to you both

    1. Author

      Hi Peter. I’m sorry about the kitchen delay, but can’t wait to see the new you after the Tom Daley workout. Keep well. Nick

  2. Great idea Nick. Look forward to hearing what is going on! Keep well.

    1. Author

      Thanks Penny. I feel I’m working towards my next post today or tomorrow! Nick

  3. Good idea Nick. I was talking over net with Paul a few days ago he is now looking at music teaching online, as one of the ways of moving forward. The U3A are looking to start some courses using Zoom which allows 40 mins + of video conferencing free, not sure how that could work with a choir or what the sound quality would be like but a possibility for working with small groups. Keep me informed of what is happening.

    1. Author

      Hi Stephen. I don’t think I have the technical know-how to try an online choir myself, especially as Gareth Malone has beaten me to it. Also try out Choraline online Messiah in preparation. I’ve signed up to that myself to see what’s going on. Nick

  4. A great idea Nick! Singing – can’t help myself. Played a record of the last 3 Mozart symphonies one day, and sang along. Amazing how much more I became aware of key changes, fugal passages, the goings on in the development sections. Wish my teachers had suggested doing that for A Level and BMus studies all those years ago. And aren’t we lucky, having so much available at the touch of a button via YouTube etc? Would love to listen to you practicing the organ, but don’t freeze to death in that church! Greetings to Robin.

    1. Author

      Hi Margaret. I’m very lucky that All Saints keep the church at a level temperature ‘to keep the organ in tune’ – what lovely people they are! And they let me have a key as well, so I’m in there on my own everyday (don’t tell Boris). I love those Mozart symphonies, in fact all the last 6. Nick

  5. Great idea Nick, I shall follow with interest. A friend of mine (another Nick as it happens) does an almost daily blog and has done for ages. His main thing is composing and I find it fascinating to follow some of the process. I’m sure yours will also prove fascinating and I look forward to it.

    1. Author

      Welcome Pat. Nice to have you on board. Nick

  6. 👍(thumbs up if emojis aren’t working) Great idea. Please keep it up. ROH and the Met (and maybe later Glynebourne) are broadcasting operas for free. Perhaps you could review/ discuss those or other online/recorded performances – a bit like a musical book club? Take care X

    1. Author

      Emojis are good thanks. Thanks for the suggestion – I may do that. Nick

  7. hello nick and robyn.i do hope you’re well.catching up with house tidying,watching boris{boring!}.playing all my opera/welsh guards bands cds{preparing for queens birthday paradeTBC}.popped to eastbourne on sat PM to try to get my refund for Russian State Opera{aida} but got nowhere!,much love james.i’m running for PM in the next election against terribnle Boris.

    1. Author

      Hi James. Good to hear that you’re keeping your house tidy. Not sure about you standing against Boris. He might emerge from this a better leader…….or not. Nick

  8. Yes, a great idea, Nick – I’m sure we’re all missing our lovely Monday evenings and will enjoy staying in touch with one another. Paul and Carol are hoping to keep their VoiceWorks group going via Zoom – and we had a little taster session with some interesting results.Your blog is a great way of staying in contact and having some fun. I look forward to reading the next episode and hearing about what you’re listing to and recommending. Warm wishes to you and Robin.

    1. Author

      Hi Anna. Thanks for signing up. Nick

  9. I’m not generally a blogger but shall enjoy reading this one even if I don’t take part in the general conversation. Thank you Nick. You and Robin keep safe and well.

  10. Could we sing together with Zoom? A U3A Group I belong to are trying it out this week. If we find we can all talk at once, it should be possible to sing? The ESBC WhatsApp group put up a recording by the King’s Singers which showed exactly what ‘Now is the month of Maying’ ought to sound like. Maybe we could do with listening to ‘When David heard’ for the sake of our next meeting, whenever. It turns out to be?
    It must be particularly maddening for you, Nick, to have had so many projects cancelled or interrupted. I’m glad churches are still open for you to play the organ.
    Best of luck to everyone,

    1. Author

      Hi Bridget. Nice suggestion about the Tomkins. Try this on Youtube – it’s in the right key. In fact if you close your eyes slightly, you might imagine this is Lewes Chamber Choir in Hamsey church https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvY1HEVKVPM Nick

  11. Great idea, and I look forward to seeing you again at ECS. It was always a joy listening to your piano playing ….I will miss that enormously. Waiting for your next blog……
    In anticipation 😀🎶🍿🍫🍰🍷
    Karen Nicholls

    1. Author

      Hi Karen. Thanks for signing up. Nick

  12. First of all, Nick, a huge thank you for the tremendous amount of work you put into Gerontius. I had previously only heard this work once, about 45 years ago, and it is nothing that I would, in the normal way of things, have listened to again. But I have grudgingly come to concede that it is, without question, a great work. It’s the hardest thing I have ever worked on as a choral singer but the rewards have been considerable. So by no means was everything lost by cancellation of the performance.

    For me, music is one of the three of four most important things in life and I guess that is so for many of us. As Malcom Warnes said at a recent Youth Orchestra concert, music changes lives. I want to read more about the psychology of music to try to understand why its effects are so direct and powerful, so if anyone knows of any accessible books on this subject, please let me know.

    In the meantime, there’s a series of programmes called ‘Soul Music’ available on BBC Radio 4 i-player in which people talk about a particular piece of music that is important to them for some reason or other. Some of the discussants are music professionals but many are just ordinary people whose lives have been touched irreversibly by the music in question. The music itself covers everything from Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black’ to Bach’s ‘Ich Habe Genug’. I’ve found these programmes to be riveting listening and they show in a very direct and sometimes almost unbearably poignant way why music, and the people who work so hard to bring it to all of us, is so important.

    1. Author

      Tim, thank you for your very thoughtful reply. I have heard two of the Soul Music programmes and was very interested in them both. I’m REALLY PLEASED that our work on Gerontius has brought you satisfaction. It wasn’t wasted time was it. Nick

      1. Message for Tim Roper: you might like to try Anthony Storr’s book “Music and the Mind” – not sure if it’s still in print, but you might frind it on ebay or somewhere. “This beautifully written , humane intelligent and thoughtful, is a significant contribution to our understanding of those mysterious movements of the mind.”

    2. Hi Peter, not sure if I’m doing this correctly. Going through boxes of books I’ve just come across Music and the Mind – happy to lend it to Tim Roper, but can’t work out how to contact him…. if he’s in Lewes I could leave it in my [outside] letterbox, 21 the Avenue. Best wishes Susan Bain

      1. Peter and Susan, thanks for your comments and, Susan, for your very kind offer; and apologies for being so slow to respond to them. In fact, Storr’s book is not just still in print, it is even available in electronic form. So I have downloaded a copy to my Kindle. So far I’m enjoying it very much. A large amount of neurological research on music appreciation has been done since he wrote it, using scanning techniques that allow brain activity to be monitored in fully conscious subjects. Storr’s insights are, not surprisingly given his background, based more on intuition and anecdotal evidence. However, they are still very pertinent and the book is extremely well written.
        Storr also wrote a book called ‘Solitude’. Perhaps, in the circumstances, we should all be reading it.
        Best wishes, Tim Roper

  13. Morning, great idea. Attempting to learn the flute during lockdown and looking forward to performing a duet on our balcony!!!! Harry Christopher “Sixteen” eat your heart out. Keep well everyone.

    1. Author

      I can’t wait Trace and Ray. Not entirely sure which of you is learning the flute. I guess it’s you, Trace, to add to your recorder? skills. Nick

  14. Hi Nick! Think your blog is a brilliant idea and I would love to become a follower! Missing the choir already.
    Hope you are both keeping well.

    1. Author

      Thanks Christine. Nick

  15. Great idea, count me in!

    1. Author

      Hi Thalie. It’s lovely that so many people have shown an interest already. Hope you are well. Nick

  16. Great idea Nick. Lots of ECS members are turning to online ideas. Some have signed up for the online Messiah concert that Choraline is organising and some are singing each day with Gareth Malone.
    Look forward to hearing from you again,
    Hope you and Robin keep well,

    1. Author

      Thanks Liz. I hope you’re keeping up the daily sing yourself as well. Best wishes. Nick

  17. Hi Nick, thanks for this! As you know I don’t really do technology, so the mere mention of Zoom sends me scuttling. But I’m interested that you’re playing at All Saints Eastbourne, since I’d assumed all churches were closed…? I’ve been playing the William Hill organ at All Saints Lewes on Thursday lunchtimes, to give it, and myself, a workout, but thought I should withdraw for the time being, as it might incur a problem for them if public places are meant to be closed. In fact I’m playing for a wedding there in October [DV] and the groom wants Promenade from Pictures at an Exhibition for people to gather – great idea I think, and the first time I’ve been asked for that.

    One thing did cross my mind before I’d signed up and read everyone’s comments, though I endorse all their enthusiasm. John Hancorn did a Messiah workshop at St John’s on a Saturday many years ago, and about 20 of us went into the churchyard at lunchtime, and impromptu sang the Hallelujah chorus a capella…. it was fun.
    Might you like to do that over Easter – not at St J, but in any big open space? We can all stand 2 metres apart! Who needs Gareth Malone??!

    All the very best to you and Robin. Susan Bain

    1. Author

      Hi Susan. Yes I think I’m not rushing to embrace Zoom. But an impromptu Messiah, perhaps on the tilting lawn in Lewes Castle! Let’s think about it. Nick

  18. I certainly do not need Gareth Malone!! Good to hear from you Susan. I have heard that there is a slight time lag on Zoom that makes it difficult to sing/play in numbers. Impromptu Messiah sounds very good .Best wishes to all, Loretta

  19. Great idea of Susan’s for an impromptu Messiah and Lewes Castle would be a superb venue !
    So missed our Brighton Singers rehearsal last night, such great music the Durufle and the Parry !
    Sue Clyde

    1. Author

      Hi Sue. Congratulations on being the first Brighton Singer to comment. I think I’ll mention the Parry songs in my next blog. Nick

  20. Dear Nick, what a good idea to start a blog. It must be devastating to have all your projects and plans suddenly cancelled (as well as your livelihood). Saw Mary Burke yesterday who said you were in the final weeks of preparing Gerontius. I sang that with the Whitehall Choir at Guildford Cathedral, an extraordinarily moving experience as the conductor, Christopher Herrick, had arranged for the St John Ambulance to bring his own dying father in on a stretcher to hear it.
    Look after yourself, keep well – hundreds of us will need you when normal service resumes, Anne

    1. Author

      Hi Anne. Abandoning Gerontius was a blow, but I guess we’ve all been upset in many ways by this lockdown. Nice to hear about your Gerontius experience though. Nick

  21. Many thanks for starting this blog, Nick, and helping keep our musical community together.

    I thought that opening (and sadly only) rehearsal for Acis and Galatea was terrific – I don’t think I’ve ever heard the NSO chorus in such fine form in an opening rehearsal, and the soloists were wonderful. I do hope we can keep everyone on board.

    Meanwhile I’m having fun learning how to use Musescore. For those who don’t know, it’s a free downloadable music score-writing program, for Mac or PC – and amazingly sophisticated. So to keep Acis &G fresh in my mind I’ve been putting the chorus parts into the score and playing them back to myself – with wordless chorus and piano. So far have done ‘Happy We’ and ‘O the Pleasure of the Plains’. Have shared links to my audio files on our Backstage with NSO Facebook page, so hopefully some of us will be up to speed when chorus rehearsals resume!

    1. Author

      Hi Tim. That’s a great idea to put the chorus parts into Musescore. Saves me a job! Nick

      1. Just done Wretched Lovers for chorus, sop1 and alto, plus a makeshift piano part. Wow, there’s a lot of stuff to get under our belts there! Lovely music though, so it’s no hardship hearing it again and again.

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