Intervention gives world music genius

Let’s imagine this situation. You are going home from work one evening when, during your commute home, you witness someone in need of assistance. Perhaps it is someone who has injured himself or herself while walking on the road. Maybe it is someone who has been mugged. Or perhaps it is someone who is depressed and is in danger of self harm.

You stop whatever you are doing to help – never mind that you have had a long day at work and had been looking forward to a nice evening meal, slouched in front of the telly with a glass of wine or other beverage, and in front of your favourite evening programme. Or it may have been that you had been looking forward to a quiet romantic evening. Never mind all that now. You recognise the urgency of the situation and realise that you have to set aside your own needs temporarily to deal with those of the other person.

In a way, it requires you to selflessly give up part of yourself so that you are able to give to the other person, either in the form of physical assistance or perhaps maybe just something that costs financially less – merely in the form of companionship. Perhaps it is someone who is struggling in his or her own life and is thinking of the ultimate end to things.

If it were a true situation, how would you react? Would you walk on, thinking that it is better to avoid getting involved in a situation that might prove to be too difficult to extricate yourself from? Would you risk being too socially, or emotionally involved? Or might you think that you cannot afford the time to, because you are in a rush, or not skilled enough to deal with this sort of situation, and maybe someone else after you might be?

The jazz composer George Gershwin dropped out of school at the age of fifteen and had it not been for interventions along the way he might have just ended up in a menial job (as all dropouts might have), but crucially these interventions steered him along the right path where he met teachers that enhanced his skill. Other composers such as Beethoven, who was bullied by his father and teacher, might have benefitted from intervention as well.

The next time you see someone in need, be a little more compassionate and stop for a while. You never know, yours might be the voice that matters and turns things around.

Isolation and Mental Health

Does spending too much time alone in isolation lead to mental health decline? Let’s consider the case of the Russian composer Scriabin.

´╗┐´╗┐Scriabin’s career has a certain level of resemblance to that of Rachmaninov. Both were skilled in the art of composing and were accomplished pianists. Like Rachmaninov, his mother had been a fine pianist, and he was brought up by other female relatives in the extended family after his mother died just over a year after his birth.

Scriabin’s piano teacher in Moscow was Nikolay Zverev, who also taught Rachmaninov. Both entered the Conservatory in 1888 and both won gold medals during their time there. It was in the Conservatory that Scriabin caught the attention of the Russian millionaire publisher and philanthropist Mitrofan Belyayev. The latter began publishing Scriabin’s works and also sent him on a tour in Europe to play his own music.

In his later works Scriabin became increasingly involved in mysticism, and dabbled in Nietzschean theories, occult teachings, and philosophical ideas. He also developed the theory of synaesthesia, according to which art that appealed to all the senses would trigger a cataclysmic effect. His final work, Mysterium, was written with all these in mind. According to Scriabin, the performance was planned to last seven days in the Indian foothills of the Himalayas, beginning with bells suspended from the clouds. The universe would be shattered and humans replaced by nobler beings. To others, he seemed positively batty.

You can read more about the link between mental health and isolation from the Piano Teachers N8 website, or look up pianoWorks for Piano Lessons N8.

But it is fair to assume that spending too much time in self analysis, in what must seem like really isolationist activities such as being at the piano does push one towards mental health decline – as seen in this case. The same goes for other activities such as playing computer games, spending too much time on social media and other similar activities. In other words, get out! You may find that even when you are troubled, getting out for a walk, or just talking to people provides a temporary diversion from troubles. Or if you need to, arrange a visit with a counsellor so you can speak about your problems in strict confidence.

Work and Attire

How seriously do you take your office attire? The way you dress can show what you truly think about your job, and if this is managed well, put you in a good position.

Imagine this scenario. A plumber or junior electrician thinks “I’m in a manual job, I might just as well not bother because I’m going to get dirty anyway.” So he doesn’t bother with his appearance. But what do others think? They think someone who doesn’t care about his appearance should not be made a manager, or given responsibilities, because he will not be a good representation of the company.

Now imagine this scenario. The same worker comes to work, presentably dressed, changes into his coveralls for work, and then when he is finished, goes back into the clothes he came in, so he is not wearing the clothes he did his manual work in. People in the organisation knows he has skill to do the job, and he had demonstrated he is willing to progress, and demonstrated that he bothers.

Of course, you must just dress slightly beyond the pay grade and not too far. Don’t do your bin man job in your Armani suit. Or if you are relatively junior in the job ranks, don’t dress like you think a revolution is nigh in your organisation. Leaping too far and showing too much ambition will get you the ire of your co-workers.

A tip is to pick someone from the rank above as your style guide. If that person is a manager or middle manager and has survived in that job for a few years, then that look may have been established as been appropriate for the level. So adopt that look, which may put you in good mental stead. And if there is a position that will soon be vacated, perhaps by someone leaving for another job, or retiring, and if that person has been one that is well-liked, and your organisation is known to be conservative in its interviewing – that they are looking to appoint someone similar – model your style after them. And if the outgoing person is not well-liked, dress differently from them!

The Classical composer Hector Berlioz was well-known for writing grand music. He was also known for being a good dresser, which put him well in the public mind because they noted his dress sense. Perhaps it came with originally being a doctor. But despite a lack of music training, you may argue that being smartly-dressed enabled Berlioz to be noted by the public, and make the leap in to a career he was originally not meant to be in!

To find out more about Hector Berlioz, you can click here or follow the links to the Piano Teacher N15 website.

Dress smart – but appropriately! It communicates the correct attitude.

What we should teach our children about contract cheating

Have you ever heard of contract cheating? It is a new term that has surfaced in the last decade, in a content-driven society. It is a term used to describe how an individual pays someone else to perform a task for them – in many cases, a written one – and passes off the latter work as their own. This form of cheating has surfaced particularly around universities, where undergraduates have to produce essays frequently as well as dissertations, and indeed, essay mills – as the companies that sell these services – frequently do their advertising around campuses. You can reportedly get an essay that guarantees a particular grade and is not detected by algorithms to have been copied.

Why do people buy such services? You may of course suspect that undergraduates pay fifty or more pounds to get out of the tedium of writing an essay. Now you may think it crazy to spend that amount of money for the time it takes to write an essay but that amount of money goes more into the necessary research that comes before the writing of an essay. How much research is necessary depends on the actual complexity of the essay of course. But essay mills promise that you will get a particular grade with an essay, so some may use it as a guide to the research involved.

But not all services are paid for by undergraduates who want to “par-tay” their University life away while aiming to get a degree for as little work as possible. Some might have actually do long hours of work alongside their studies and cannot spend their time reading books and looking up research for their essays and working at the same time. You can’t for example, do childminding in a nursery with book in hand and mind off the job.

Should we be concerned about essay mills? Well, yes. It requires employers to be more stringent about qualifications. But one cannot examine whether a potential employee has done the work on his or her own, so this is where a careful interview process to ascertain the potential employee’s skills are important.

The other lesson is for our children. They may fall prey to the essay mills, thinking it is an easy way out, but we have to impress on them the value of acquiring skills rather than just merely attaining the qualifications. It comes back to the old circle of process over product. Because when they sit in front of an interview panel and the panel realise that the candidate’s product is flawed (and hence the process to obtain it), they may find the short cut was not worth it at all. We have to steer them away from it.

Imagine if the great writers and music composers of the past indulged in essay mills or music mills! Someone like the classical music great Joseph Hadyn would not have come up with the diversity of works had he subcontracted out his writing – and we would be so much poorer for it. And doing your own work means you are constantly refining your craft, and getting better at it. You can find out more trivia about Haydn from the Piano Teacher Muswell Hill website, including why his tomb contains two skulls. Maybe he needed all that brainpower with an extra head?

Victoria Line turns 50

It is inconceivable that this month the London Underground Victoria line will have been running for five decades. That’s half a century. Who would have imagined that when it was constructed in the 1960s, that it would still be going strong and going to be celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year? Fifty years ago, construction was undertaken between the first section from Walthamstow Central to Highbury and Islington. As the demand for commuting increased, the later stations to Brixton were gradually added. The construction link from a Highbury to Kings Cross was an important one as it allowed interchange between different lines and transport links between various parts of the capital and definitely opened up sections of the country. You could work in the busy City and live in the quiet suburbs. And to celebrate this eventful date, let us ask, what are the treasures you can see if you decide to take the line southwards?

One little gem can be found a short walk away from the northern end point of the line. Just a stone’s throw away from Walthamstow Central station is the Vestry House Museum. The museum itself used to be a workhouse and gives you an insight into what Victorian life might have been like. The building, built in the eighteenth century, is a rich display of local history. The costume gallery is one where you could spend a lot of time in. Best of all, you can enjoy the place and what it offers because it’s free! It is certainly a good place to take the kids on a rainy day.

Tottenham Hale offers a good place to be if you happen to be a nocturnal person. If you’re only starting to wake up when the night begins, then why not bring your dancing shoes to Styx? It has a good music scene, and has developed reputation for being a venue with edgy music. No one can accuse it of being monotonous! It is certainly not boring and you will be entertained! Head there via Tottenham Hale for a guaranteed good night out there. They run different club nights and also have alternative theatre shows, all nicely complemented with possibly the tastiest pizza on the whole blue line.
A few stops further down the line from Tottenham Hale will take you to Finsbury Park. To previous generations Finsbury Park was formerly known as Brownswood Park, when it used to come under different governance. When the weather is good, the park is a glorious place to head for and to bring the kids to, for the reason that are many playgrounds for them to enjoy playing at, and even a water fountain.

You might consider yourself fortunate if you live around the Finsbury Park area – after all, it is one of the established places with good transport links. You get the Piccadilly and Victoria line, National Rail services and if you need the London Overground you can get it at the next stop of Highbury and Islington. Around Finsbury Park, there are places to eat, gyms, and other places for artistic and health development. Finsbury Park had established itself as a sort of arts hub. If you are looking to start music lessons like learning the piano, you might want to get in touch with a Finsbury Park or Hornsey piano teacher. Playing the piano can offer you enjoyment and you learn skills that last your lifetime!

Your passion and what it can do for you

Teenagers are a very strange lot. Do you have a teenager about in the house? Or maybe you have two or more? Either way, you can observe a very strange set of behaviour manifesting itself at various points in the year. Ask a teenager to get up of their free will, and frequently you will find that many of them have a struggle. They get to school late and can’t get up on time. They complain about how little sleep they have had. They are late to school. Yet in the school holidays, you will find that they get up earlier in the mornings than they would have if they had school, possibly because they are keen to use their free time to go out with friends. Or maybe they may have gotten up early despite going to bed in the wee hours of the morning because they want to resume what it is that they were doing before they went to bed. It may be an Instagram chat. It may be a computer game. But what this all points to is that when there is something worth waking up for, we will all do our damnednest to get up for it.

What can adults take from this? Some suggest that one lesson we can all learn is that we should all have meaningful jobs, ones that we can get excited about. Perhaps it is making a change in someone’s life, as a teacher or a counsellor. Maybe it is one that gives us a sense of purpose, like a research scientist working on stopping cancer. Or maybe it is one what allows us to have most impact, and control, such as in influencing the world around us and giving us a sense of being in touch with the real world.

So work on finding that dream job, one that gives you purpose in life. When you have that purpose, it will sustain you and give you meaning and will to get up in the morning!

The composer Ralph Vaughan Williams was passionate about reviving English music in the 20th century and it gave him meaning and sustained his creative drive in his work. You can read more about him from the Piano Teacher Hornsey N8 blog. Vaughan Williams had a career that lasted many decades – truly if you find something you believe in, it will keep you going and you will see yourself as not having enough time to finish all the things you want to do. A better alternative than counting down the hours at work!

Managing the effects of social media

Could the theory about your choice of social media revealing your age and demographic hold any water? Some people have suggested that it is easy to make any initial assumptions about the target market merely by examining the social media platform used by social media users. While this could be an unproven generalisation, with clear examples that do not fit the mould, we can often assume that the users of Facebook are slightly older, and the Instagram users are of a younger generation. (There will of course be older Instagram users of course, and vice versa, younger Facebook users.)
Your preferred social media platform may not also be a matter of age, but your preferred medium of communication. For example, if you prefer writing short posts, you may opt for Twitter. If you prefer posting images, then Instagram may be your chosen platform. Whatever your choice of social media platform, there is no denying that social media offers possibilities of side income. If you have an original product to sell, you may find buyers among your followers. For example, popular singers have thousands of fans that but their records. If you have no original product to push, you can earn commission by affiliate marketing, where you promote a product and get a percentage of sales. You can also be a social media influencer, where you don’t actively push a product. Many influencers simply project an image that followers try to emulate and induce them to purchase a product. Think models, make up artists and the like.

Social media may be beneficial in some ways, but keeping up with lots of followers can be quite demanding. If you reply to your early fans individually at the outset, you may find it more difficult as your numbers of followers grow, and feeling the need to continue that level of communication but not having the time to do so can exert a toll on your mental health. Imagine the boxer Rocky Balboa – had he had legions of fans on Facebook (of course, what else), it would have interfered with his training, and perhaps some unkind comment might have affected his progress. (As an aside, you can find out about the music in Rocky from the Piano Teacher N8 blog.)
If Rocky had used social media, he might have relied on a media team to manage his account so he could focus on his training. So while social media is useful, be mindful of its effects on you!

Uneasy about something? Don’t keep it bottled up

Should you take a person’s word at face value? If a person has promised something verbally, and later seemingly reneges on the promise, what sort of ways can you go about to address the situation?

This is the situation facing an author in Canada. Shubnum Khan, the person in question, had signed up for a photo shoot as part of what had been billed as a 100 Photos Shoot. She went to it, signed a disclaimer, and then had a free professional image for a photo shoot given to her, on the condition that the photographer could use her image as part of an art project. She recalls hearing the words art project being used for the purpose of this shoot.

Yet years later she would be shocked to find her image used for a variety of purposes. These include an advertisement for immigration, dermatological cream, website services such as child minding, among others. Did she agree for her image to be used this way? No, but the contract she had signed had essentially made her give away the rights to that image, and she would have no further control about how it was used.

There is a certain danger in agreeing for your image to be used in a way you do not agree with. Imagine if you had your photograph taken, and then had it used as a picture for a cause you did not agree with. What recourse would you have in addressing the situation? There is the threat of litigation you can bring to the offender, but unfortunately, the cost for most individuals would likely outweigh the benefit, and most people would probably leave well alone, unless they were public individuals whose reputation might be harmed – and if they had enough money to sue.

Perhaps a lesson to take away might have been at the outset – get things down in writing, so that is some recourse for action. And if you are uncomfortable with anything, don’t just go along with it. It might have serious repercussions for the future if you don’t speak up.

Taking an example from the world of film, when what you see doesn’t connect with what you hear, there is a sense of unease because something doesn’t match. (You can read more about this from the Piano Teachers N15 blog. If you feel the same sort of unease in social situations, don’t mask it!

Fatigue and Mental Errors

Is it mental fatigue? Is it the pressure? Maybe he needs a bit of counselling himself? Whatever the reason, it seems that even the pressures of work are getting to the US President Donald Trump himself. The President made headlines this week when he responded to an interview question posed by a reporter about possible collusion in the presidency voting. Despite his own intelligence services going on record to say that there was evidence to suggest so, Donald Trump ducked out of that question to say that he saw no reason to suggest why Russia would interfere.

You can imagine the media storm that followed. “President does not trust his own intelligence services!” a headline might as well have read. It is somewhat ironic then that the service responsible for security gets undermined by the very individual it ultimately tries to protect.

Unfortunately for Donald Trump, he tried to reverse his remarks in the light of this statement, saying that what he had meant to say, was “I see no reason why Russia wouldn’t” instead of “would”. But to attribute the blame to a mispronunciation hinging on a negative, when the rest of his non-verbal actions suggested otherwise, does not cut the mustard.

If you were looking to put things in a positive spin, the only thing that you might say is that perhaps it was an honest mistake. Everyone gets tired and the burden of mental fatigue can trigger us to make errors. And when we are mentally fatigued, we don’t really care about how we present ourselves, and our body language can bring the wrong impression. So when Donald Trump made what could perhaps be seen as a mistake, he was fatigued – which then perhaps suggests someone else should be in the job.

The problem with politics is no one is perfect, and the personal faults of one are transferred over to other areas. Unlike in music, where the naturalised composer Antonin Dvorak sought to create a new American style from traditional roots, and the tie-ins work because of past associations, doing so in politics means people remember you for who they saw previously – in other words, Donald Trump the apprentice, the womaniser, and the hotelier. And they don’t have this sort of positive opinion. (In the case of the former, you could find out more about Dvorak’s attempt from the Piano Teacher Crouch End blog.)

If you ever find yourself making this sort of error, perhaps you should re-assess yourself and the way things are going. But that’s the lesson to take away only if you accept that Trump was really suffering from the pressures of the presidency. If you believe he was trying to weasel his way out of the backlash – well, there’s a post for another day.

A little diversion with the World Cup

It is hard not to get unaffected by the World Cup football around. Even if you have little interest, you get influenced by the bug by the people around!

England are unfortunately out of the World Cup finals. After a stellar run, going all the way to the semi-finals and avenging that last-16 defeat by Iceland in the previous competition, leaving the Lions with their tails between their legs, the team managed to hold Croatia to injury time before a late goal saw them lose out.

There is a general belief that the England team have done enough to restore their reputations, and there is hope amid the pain of defeat. England boss was quoted as saying that the team has raised expectation and belief. There is still something to fight for, as England head into the third place play off with Belgium. You might argue that this might have instead been the final game had been expecting, instead of France and Croatia, but this is still a good chance for England to prove they have the mettle to beat one of the top teams in the world.

In Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, you may have argued that the Belgium team had a good spine from defence to attack. Unfortunately they were snuffed out by a French team and lost to a set piece winner by Samuel Umtiti of Barcelona.

It is a good test for England to see how they will hold up against their Premier League buddies. Most of the third and fourth place players ply their trade in the Premier League, and so it may feel like a charity match of sorts. But make no mistake, there is not going to be any charity in this one!

The big question now is, will Gareth Southgate let the fringe players of the team get a chance to play? Some of the players did get some game time in the third match of the group stage, when England’s place had already been confirmed. In that third match, it was England against – you’ve guessed it – Belgium. Or more accurately, England B vs Belgium B, with both sides resting many of their key players. It is unlikely that either team will now give their B teams a roll out, because the third place finish is important. To both teams, it highlights the pinnacle of both managerial careers. Southgate is on his first as England manager, while Roberto di Martinez is doing the same since being out of the Premier League.

England vs Belgium is an important game. It is the last game for the next two years before the Euros, so get your flags out and get cheering! You have to live with the result for the next two years!

Hopefully England’s march to success will continue!