Adjacent is Fiona Lau's review of my beginner's piano book, Favourite Children's Songs for Piano, as printed in Piano Teacher Magazine's July 2018 issue.
I was delighted at how positive the review is!
"If you teach young beginners, get this book. You will not regret it."
Can't get much better than that!
1) Don't neglect sight reading! Such an important skill. Don't leave til last minute!
2) For G1 hands never play together, they never move/stretch and range is just 5 notes. When hands are in position DON'T MOVE THEM!
3) No need to work out each individual note. Follow the steps vs leaps. Leaps from line-line or space-space = skip a note/finger. Larger intervals can be worked out during the 30 seconds along with the starting note for both hands!
4) Identify what's in the key signature and place fingers on corresponding sharps/flats before beginning. During the 30 seconds scan the piece to identify accidentals.
5) Count 1,2,3 in head to get pulse if in 3 time.
6) Play it SLOWLY, no matter the #tempo direction!
7) Clapping games can develop a recognition of rhythmic phrases. Practise especially subdivision; clapping #crotchets to #quavers etc.
8) But remember the most important thing: KEEP GOING. Don't repeat stumbled phrases, don't go back and correct - don't stop! Students possibly find this the hardest to manage!
It's a good idea to hear how your story sounds out loud, especially if you've written a picture book parents are going to read to their children. There are programs that do this - read text out loud. Else you could get someone to read it to you or record yourself reading it and listen to it back.
Obviously, grammar and spelling need to be perfect before you send it off, which is why it's a good idea to put the manuscript aside for a few weeks (I usually wait 5 or 6); it's amazing how many errors you can find on re-reading with fresh eyes. You may want to join a writing community like www.mywriterscircle.com (I've been a member for many years and it's helped me a lot).
Few reputable publishers accept unsolicited submissions anymore, but there are a few medium sized traditional publishers that do, with Andersen Press probably being the best. I made a blog post listing them here: http://www.walkerproductions.co.uk/blog/13-reputable-uk-childrens-publishers-accepting-unsolicited-submissions
So going the agent route is probably best to start with. They will sell your MS to the best publisher in return for 15% commission. Every writer should have a copy of the current Writers' and Artists' Yearbook http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1408192454/ (the new 2016 edition is out in July), which lists who does what in UK publishing.
Make sure you research any prospective agents thoroughly online before submitting anything. Does their website look professional? Have they successfully sold books in your genre? Most are members of the Association of Authors' Agents, although some reputable agencies are not. Just have a look at what they've sold. Then decide who to send the MS to. The larger agencies have many agents working for them, so you should read their profiles and select the best fit and address your submission to them. Always follow their submission guidelines. Most are either email or form submissions, which is handy (although I have had a few subs and replies lost in the ether from time to time). Usually they ask for the full MS for picture books, either as a Word or PDF file (be aware that formatting may be lost if they have a different version of Word to you). For longer works the first three chapters and a synopsis is usually requested. The synopsis is not a blurb or teaser, but a concise summary of the main plot, including the ending. Try to get it onto one page of A4. Everything, including the synopsis, should be double spaced (select all and press ctrl +2), 12 point Times New Roman, no space between paragraphs unless starting a new section. In other words, the complete opposite of how I've formatted this blog post.
Put your address and contact details, the title, your name and the word count on the title page. Make sure you number the pages. Attach the file(s)to a cover email which introduces you and your work.
Dear [agent's name],
Please find attached my picture book/novel, TITLE IN CAPS (word count). [Short summary of the novel, no more than three sentences, then a little about yourself].
Don't say your daughter and her classmates loved it. Don't say the agent will be missing out on loads of money if they turn it down. Don't say it could be a movie and you will write the script.
Select about a dozen agents and submit to them simultaneously. That is a perfectly standard thing to do, unless they specifically say they only accept exclusive submissions. Do not CC them all in to the same email though!
Expect to wait between 1 and 3 months, and if you haven't heard back send a polite email enquiring whether they received your submission OK.
Everyone gets rejection. Don't let it bother you. They are almost always form rejections that say about how your work is not quite right for their list. But if they take the time to write you a personal rejection treat it like gold dust and treasure it.
If you run out of agents, try the publishers listed on my blog. Then you may want to look at self-publishing (note: use a Print-On-Demand company like Lulu.com where there are no set-up fees. You do not want to be paying vanity publishers thousands of pounds for them to dump 100 books on your doorstep). That's the main thing you need to keep in mind: "money should flow towards the author, not the other way round". You do not want to be paying publishers or agents anything apart from commission and 'expenses' like photocopying and proof copies. Publishers make their money by selling books. Agents make their money on commission from selling books. Do not hand over any money unless they have sold something.
Don't get me wrong, I'm actually a huge fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber. A lot of people seem to look down on his music, dismissing it as clichéd and 'safe'. In some ways, of course, it is. But that's because the general public like simple melodies and clichéd chord progressions.
There is nothing new nowadays. It doesn't matter whether you look at literature, art or music - pretty much everything has already been done to some extent. In Western music there are only 12 different tones; and so only a limited number of variations! I'm pretty sure every 'recent' melody you name can be already found somewhere within the wealth of written music generated over the last 500 years or so.
The video below is a tongue-in-cheek poking fun at ALW, performed live in a village pub. Originally written and performed by Kit and the Widow, with a few adaptions and additions by myself.
~ The first few notes of Love Changes Everything from Aspects of Love are identical to the ones from JS Bach's Fugue in E Major (Well Tempered Clavier Book II).
~ The super famous chromatic riff from The Phantom of the Opera is almost identical to the one in Pink Floyd's Echoes.
You can download the sheet music (PDF) and have a listen to my jazzy piano solo WALK IN THE MOONLIGHT below. About grade 3 standard.
I heard recently about Bryan Barkley, the elderly Red Cross volunteer dismissed from the charity over his gay marriage protest. He is absolutely entitled to his views (just as the Red Cross is entitled to dismiss him), however, his placard 'No redefinition of marriage' raises a common misconception. Some people seem to think that marriage is and has always been an unchanging institution, a union between one man and one woman. But this is not the case.
For centuries marriages in England were strictly religious - between one man and one woman before God. This changed only in the 20th Century with the advent of civil ceremonies, when God was removed from the union.
And if we look at traditional marriage as outlined by Biblical law we can see the institution has changed many times. Men could have more than one wife (but of course women could not have more than one husband). Marriages were almost always arranged, and fathers could sell their daughters into marriage as slavers could sell their slaves. If a woman's husband died she was required to marry his brother (Deut 25:5). And if an unmarried, un-betrothed young woman was raped she was required to marry her rapist (Deut 22:28-29). Luckily marriage, like other institutions, has been reformed by superior moral standards. So marriage has been redefined many times, and for the better.
AT NIGHT SHE LIVES