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Day 9 Christmas is on the way!

I must say I felt sorry for the other artists who had to trek out in the snow this week and last, especially as I am working from my studio. As with other weeks, Ive had correspondence with the other artists in advance of their day in the hospitals, in the hope that I can a) create something that will be of use to their creative activities and b) that I will be prepared for a themed link-up. I think its been working pretty well so far. At least when I know a theme in advance, I can get into character, both musically and as personalities! The snow has certainly suggested an early Christmas to a lot of us and today was no different. So, Ive had a number of interesting things to do today.

First I spent a bit of time preparing my puppets to for a night out, as if they were attending a party, an International party in a castle, dare I say. Eszther in Hospital F was working on this very exciting theme with her group today. So, I decided Id glam up my pair (of glove puppets that cover the keyboard-playing hands) and pretend that we were the band that were meant to travel to Cork (or whereever the castle might be) and play the music for the party. So, I set about modifying my glove puppets with some flares and glitter (70s band anyone?). Unfortunately we didnt get to do the link-up and this, thankfully, is the first time that a scheduled link-up hasnt gone ahead for me. We managed to salvage things as later in the afternoon, as Eszther was working with a little boy who was interested in doing a link-up. I used the glammed-up puppets and played some disco music for the little boy. I think he was a little shy and possibly too tired to interact. Nonetheless, my puppets were able to ask a good few questions and get answers back through Eszther. I think in these circumstances, its good for the child to be entertained somewhat so we jumped around a bit and talked a bit. It was fun, if short.

Inbetween preparation for Eszthers theme and the link-up, I worked on some ideas for Siobhn Clancy in Hospital A. In earlier correspondence, Siobhn told me that she was working on a Christmas theme this week and next week as the hospital had specifically asked her to work on something for Santas arrival to the hospital. Siobhn asked if I would create something that could be used for this and a show so I set about creating a soundscape and theme. The final piece is based around the tune Jingle Bells; the first half is more atmostpheric and abstract with some Christmas sound effects thrown in (church bells, sleigh bells), while the second part is more musical and upbeat. The first part could encourage children to create a little story while the second part is intended to get them singing and dancing along to the tune. I tend to select very well-known tunes as they are the best catch-all solution when one doesnt know the audience. The age group can vary so much and therefore the ability and knowledge of various pieces, that it seems better to stick to very well-known pieces. The other really interesting idea that Siobhn had was that she focus on getting the children to create puppets, stories and various objects around the idea of gifts. So, she asked if I would create short audio files that had the sound of paper unwrapping followed by a sound that might represent what was inside the wrapping. This is a really interesting idea, particularly because it is based around the audio suggestion. The sounds selected can suggest all sorts of interesting objects, ideas and stories for the children. I created about 15 different sound files, varying from cascading wind chimes to hairdryers to animal growls. Out of context, these sounds can suggest anything to the imagination and Im curious to see the outcomes of this. The other interesting aspect is that because the sounds are preceded by the sound of paper rustling (suggesting the sound of a gift unwrapping), it will be quite interesting to see how the different context changes the outcome or imagined object. None of us expect a real animal to be wrapped up in paper! But you never know: these sounds may be interpreted quite literally OR suggest all sorts of ideas to the children. I think this idea of Siobhns is a great way to engage the children and focus their attention on story and imagination. Looking forward to the results.

So, its been an interesting day incorporating live performance, soundscape and music composition and a story-game around audio. Great fun!

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