My favourite hour in a week full of bad news for musicians was Music Teacher Monday, a regular online forum from the Music Teachers' Association. What a great organisation this is, open to all music teachers from any kind of school, acting as an encouraging and friendly "virtual staffroom" in a subject area where so many work as the one and only music teacher in their school.
I took part in a conversation about composition strategies, especially for KS4 and KS5, with James Manwaring (Windsor Learning Partnership) and Liz Dunbar (Huntington School York.) Their students are fortunate indeed, and I myself felt really encouraged in my work after our very interesting conversation, which was listened to by, we were told, over 150 teachers tuning in after their no doubt lengthy Mondays.
In composition forums like this one, I find myself usually preaching a gospel of "relax, don't sweat", especially when asked about overcoming creative blocks or the fear of the empty page. But when I look back at my early sketches, I realise it is nowhere as easy as I make it sound. The page pictured reminds me that I have been grinding my teeth, and pencils, for almost a year on an orchestral piece, which at the beginning looked as if it was all going to be so lovely and easy to write, but of course never is.