Making Virtual Music, but Really

I massively enjoyed tonight’s Last Night of the Proms. Some have accused it of jingoism  in the past with all that flag-waving, but, let’s be honest, it’s all about the music, of course it is. With fine tunes from Borodin, Donizetti and Rossini, to name but three, and tenor, Juan Diego Flores, dressed as Manco Capac, founder of the Inca civilisation, it’s hardly a rousing celebration of Britishness. Even Padington Bear, who made a surprise appearance, is from Peru.

Yet I do feel that this kind of life-affirming, ‘let’s-all-join-in-the-songs-even-if-we-don’t-know-the-words’ kind of event is something we Brits do so well. We’ve always loved a good party and a good sing song, and the Last Night is just one of the most public.  Even the the daily concerts that lead up to this grand finale have a warmth and informality about them that I can’t imagine being replicated elsewhere. Heavens, when a symphony is played, people applaud BETWEEN the movements! Simply not done under normal circumstances, dear boy.

The Proms are sponsored by the BBC which has done a brilliant job of drawing in the viewing and listening public. This year’s ‘Virtual Orchestra’ is a great initiative to encourage people, who may well have hidden the instruments they once loved at the back of the attic, to dust them off and play a tune. Any instrument will do, almost. Have a look a  the list.

Bravo to all of you who take part.It’s so easy to bundle our creative talents away at the back of the attic of our mind, and sometimes all we need is a little encouragement to rip back the dustsheets and get cracking again. We all mean to, when we have the time. One day, we say, we’ll get our metaphorical ladder out and have a good rummage and maybe take up playing, painting, writing again. When we have the time. Come on, if we wait for ‘enough’ time, it will never come. We need to make time and not be scared of that. Maybe just ten minutes to start with. And, this is the important bit -it doesn’t need to be great, or even good, what you do then create. We’ll have no truck with ‘I’m no good at this any more.’. Who said you weren’t, apart from you? Who made you Ruler of the Kingdom of Good?

But, seriously, I say this because I go through it too. I have to tell myself, ‘Just a little bit of writing, every day’. No judgements, no critiques. Just doing. I want to and because, to be my best self, I need to. Can’t say fairer than that.

Now, hand me my air banjo.

Happy creating to you all.




Viva La Musica – The Podcast

Hello friends

Following on from my last post, here it is, the latest podcast. It’s an inspirational interview with Barbara de Biasi, head of London’s Fireworks Music School.

If, like me, you’ve ever regretted not learning an instrument, and are wondering if it’s too late, you’ll want to hear this. Seems its not too late, and there are huge health benefits too. Here it is on Soundcloud. Scroll down too, for more useful links, including the Fireworks Music School. Give ’em a call.


And here it is on Podomatic:

Here’s Barbara’s website:

And the music school:

Read about research into the positive effects of music:

Well, that’s enough to be getting on with for now. Enjoy the podcast and keep creating.



Creativity? Of course, you can!

Honestly, I could scream. Here I am with a Great Idea and all ready to rock and roll. What’s stopping me? Simply, my own technophobia. Yes, a podcast is all about the content and I’m feeling confident about that, but ask me to edit it in recording software….well, you’ve come to the wrong address.

Now, in my last post I was very cagey about my theme and content, except to say that it’s about creativity. And although neither the podcast nor this blog were supposed to be about my own creative travails, this does seem germane to the topic.

What I am interested in is people’s ‘spare time’ creativity. Do you write, sing, play, craft when you’re not at the day job? Do you do it in order to escape, or is it linked with what how you earn your living? Perhaps you want to turn professional? So many musicians and comedians work the circuit in their evenings whilst holding down a full-time job. That’s real commitment.

There are estimated to be over 2,500 amateur and community theatre groups in the UK.  What’s special about these to many people must surely be the sense of community. I’m interested in finding out more.

But I don’t want the project to sound too serious or worthy. I do think it will be fun. I’ll meet some interesting people and share what they’re doing and I hope some of you reading now will get in touch and join the project and share your work. Great talent isn’t the exclusive preserve of the trained professional or the famous. If you’ve ever seen a barnstorming pub gig, you’ll know that.

I also want to share gig information, so you can see these great people for yourself, or, if they are writers, crafters or visual artists, share links to their work.

So, there you have it, my Idea.

Now I want to turn it into a reality, but that’s when I realise that I can’t just come home after a hard day at the office and get straight down to it. I need to learn some new skills. I’m using some highly recommended recording and editing software called Audacity. I think it is probably quite intuitive, but, over the weekend, it seemed to be defeating me.

With more than a whiff of anger and desperation about me, I set off for a bank holiday lunch with my friend, Maria. She’s the younger friend I mentioned in my last post. Without her social media insight, I probably wouldn’t be writing this now. So I unburdened.

Maria, thanks so much for your clarity of thought. She showed me that I needed to look at my project differently. So, the podcast might take longer, but I can still reach out to my audience and get the conversation flowing here. I see now the sense in that, but I was so down in the dumps at the thought of chucking the Great Idea. It’s still an idea that will come to fruition, and, anyway, who’s on a timetable?

SO – Question time. Would you like to share your creative endeavours and your motivation for them with Squatting Toad? We’ll highlight you on the blog and, hopefully (!), the podcast.

If so, please email me at I’ll get back to you as soon as I can with a short questionnaire, unless you’re happy just to write something. Or just leave a comment.

Of course, as soon as I started to think about how to overcome my lack of skills, I quickly found another young friend to help with that. So, watch out, I may be coming to you over the airwaves  sooner than I thought.

In the meantime, happy creating and let me know about it.


Better than the day job?

If you’re new to Squatting Toad, we have a lot in common. So am I. I’m on a serious learning curve. But, don’t worry, you don’t have to be. I just hope you enjoy this.

You know when you have a Great Idea, but don’t feel you have the skill to execute it, so you just don’t bother. Well, I have nearly given up a few times and I am nowhere near my goal, but I’ve started. Here I am, writing my first ever blog. What’s my Great Idea? A podcast. Simple enough, right, you just talk. Anyone who knows me would think I’d find that a breeze. So, I talk, but to whom, and how do I record it, and how do I cut out the ‘hmms’ and the silly giggles? When I’ve made a progamme, how do people find it?  And how do I promote it? I knew I needed help, so I turned to a younger friend. I’m nearer to 50 than I want to admit (I can see you navigating away now… but stick with me), so youth trumped experience here. But what a can of worms I opened. Turns out I need a blog and a Twitter Feed and a Facebook Page. When younger, tech-savvy, talented friend mentioned YouTube videos, I thought it was time to walk just a little  before I could run.

So now I have a blog.

As you’ll see from the homepage, I have a logo and everything. So, I’ve got to do it now, haven’t I?

And, yes,it has got to be at least a welcome distraction from the day job, which is what Squatting Toad is all about. Actually, I don’t want to tell you what it’s ALL about right now, but if I had to choose one word to describe my theme it’s ‘creativity’.  What do you do in your down time? Do you write? Do you paint? Or sing? If so, this will be of interest to you.

Keeping my powder a little dry at this stage, but I hope to have the first podcasts ready for you by the end of May. And if, like me, you have an urge to create something, I think you’ll enjoy them and the inspiring people I’ve been talking to.

Hang on in there and happy creating.

Now, anyone know anything about editing?