Thursday, July 31, 2008

2008 Nicola Bryant calendar: August

Yes folks! It's August - and as usual Nicola's here to brighten things up a bit. I hope you'll enjoy the latest installment. I actually nearly forgot to do it. Phew! That was close. Only four months left. Will I run out of material? I hope not, but I might be scraping the bottom of the barrel soon. I wonder if I could book Nicola herself for a photoshoot to keep me going until December...

INSTRUCTIONS: Just click on the above image to open the larger 600x600 version in your internet browser. Then right mouse click to save to your PC. When you've done that just make it your desktop wallpaper. Bingo! You now have some saucy pics of Nicola to keep you company throughout 2008!

Monday, July 28, 2008

New banner

For absolutely no reason at all I can't resist buggering around with my "DrGaz" blog banner now and then. Depending on what date you read this it may or may not be at the top of the blog right now! Otherwise here it is below. I was going to do a major overhaul, but got bored and decided to leave it for a rainy day. Instead I just adulterated the existing version - messed around with the colours and bunged in a few more random images.

Just for the hell of it, here are some of my old versions:

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Photo of the day: One hell of a view

This was the view from my window for the last 4 days (click to enlarge). It's Nice in the South of France. Please excuse the my dodgy Photoshop job - you can clearly see that it's a composite of 5 photos. I have to say it wasn't exactly the cheapest 4 days of my life, but to wake up to this every morning for a just a few days made made me forget about my wallet entirely.

Monday, July 21, 2008

DrGaz's Music: Maybe Next Time (on piano)

Here's my piano version of Ritchie Blackmore/Rainbow's "Maybe Next Time". There are a couple of slight mistakes (I still haven't managed to play the whole thing perfectly). This is the first guitar solo. I also have a guitar version that you can watch here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Photo of the day: Metal Mushrooms

Some mushrooms... and they're made out of metal.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Photo of the day: The Bike of DrGaz

Earlier today I stopped off on the nice new cycle bridge on the way to the library. This is my bike - it's held together with bits of sticky tape. It's been so windy today - it was really blowing a gale when I took this photo. Cambridge is generally quite windy, which as a cyclist drives me mad as it makes pedalling really hard work.

I dropped of 3 piano music books at the library. They were a week overdue and I had to pay around £4.50. An unbelievably huge fine! I though library fines were pathetic. It doesn't seem long since I recieved fines to the order of 5p and 10p for much more serious offences.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Photo of the day: Green stuff

I left a plant pot full of water on the balcony two months ago. It is now full of green slime (see photo). Maybe I will post another photo of it in a few weeks time so that you can see how this stuff develops

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Photo of the day: Grand piano

This photo of the day is hot off the presses - taken less than an hour ago. It's the grand piano in chapel of Churchill College, Cambridge and I was bashing it this evening. My piano teacher organises a bi-annual "adult pupils' soiree" there and I went along and knocked out out a couple of tunes.

It may seem from looking at the photo that no bugger showed up, but that's just the angle I took at it. There was actually around 40 -50 people in the room. I played "The Old Cuckoo Clock" (one of the pieces I did for my Grade 1 last Saturday) and my own piano version of "Maybe Next Time" by Rainbow. Here is a link to my guitar version of the song. I hope to make a video of my piano version soon to put on YouTube.

This was a seriously nice piano to play - so expressive. Yamaha certainly know how to make them. As good as my digital Yamaha Clavinova is, I fully understand that there's absolutely no subsitute for an acoustic piano. One day I will have one. One day...

Saturday, July 05, 2008

My Grade 1 piano exam was today!

Today was the day, folks! I had my grade 1 exam this morning.

I arrived at the examination centre about 20mins early, and announced my presence to an old dear seated behind a uncomfortably low desk with an "ABRSM" sign next to it. The previous candidate (a piano grade 7) was slightly ahead of schedule, so she told me that I could start slightly early. I was taken upstairs to a practice room where I warmed up for a few minutes on a digital piano - a really dreadful Kawai. Playing that thing made me feel good about spending the extra money on my Yamaha Clavinova CLP-240. As I sat and played a few scales, a young girl blasted hell out of trumpet in the ajoining room in readiness for her exam. I filled in a slip of paper stating what pieces I would be playing and was soon led back downstairs into the sound-proofed exam room. I was eagerly met by my examiner - a young chap, who was very friendly and enthusiastic which put me at ease.

After a few seconds where I was allowed to get used to the piano I was asked to do some scales - D, Am and G. They went smoothly enough. Then it was contrary motion (both hands playing a C scale beginning at middle C and working outwards). Then I did some broken chords and arpeggios. I made a small mistake on the first arpeggio because I started playing it as a broken chord. I apologised and did it properly (hopefully I didn't lose marks).

I then played the 3 pieces. They went really well from what I can remember. The only mistake I made (a very minor one) was I played a D instead of an E on one of the repeating "tick-tock" phrases of "The Old Cuckoo Clock". I managed to continue playing through the mistake and made no further ones.

Then came the dreaded sight-reading test, and he chose me one that was in D Major, so there was loads of F#s and C#s to contend with. I think I got the whole thing about 80% correct as far as the notes were concerned, and around 70% correct as far as timing. My dynamics were sadly lacking. I noticed afterwards I should have played some of it loud (forte) and some soft (piano) I hope they don't mark me down too much

The examiner then took the driving seat and I had the aural test. This was pretty easy and over in a minute or two.

The whole thing went so quickly. It was scheduled for a duration of 12 minutes, but it felt more like 5 or 6. Overall I think I did pretty well, but I think I have to wait a few weeks for the results.

I'll go for Grade 3 next I think.

Friday, July 04, 2008

My Grade 1 piano exam is tomorrow!

Tomorrow's the day, folks! I will be having my Grade 1 piano exam in the morning. I'm sure that most people doing this exam are usually about 7 years old, but I can't help feeling a tiny bit nervous. I know I can pass it with my eyes closed, but I still want to do well. A distinction would be nice, which means there's little margin for cock-ups.

I couldn't resist Googling my piano examiner, and I found a few web pages with photos & biography. He's quite a young chap and has excellent credentials - educated at Oxford, plays the organ on BBC Songs of Praise. I wasn't too sure what a piano examiner would look like - I was expecting some very straght-laced Victorian type - all suited and starched collars, so it's much less intimidating to know that they're just normal people like you or I.