My New Ukulele!

There is a new love in my life...the ukulele. It's the first time I've taken up a new instrument since being at university and there is a reason why I chose the ukulele. The first Friday of every month there is a jam session in our local village bar. It's been going now for about 2 years and I go along to sing regularly and jam with some fabulous local musicians. However...the musicians are all men. They play the guitar, the drums, the saxophone, the accordian, and even one time there was a harp. Being a musician myself I was starting to feel like women were being grossly under-represented in the instrument department. There are always female singers around, but as far as instrument playing went, I decided that something had to be done about it.

I would love to play the guitar, but having tried playing it for all of a second I decided that results were not going to be quick enough. The ukulele on the other hand, with only 4 strings, and being a much smaller size, has been a breeze to learn. (Bear in mind I have been playing some kind of instrument since the age of 4 so some instruments I can pick up pretty quickly.) Jacob got a little kids ukulele for Christmas last year and I started to learn on his, but the strings kept slipping and I knew that to really compete with the big boys I was going to need something with a little more power behind it. I then discovered Duke of Uke's and started dreaming about owning a 'proper' ukelele! Being in France I had to send my dad to visit the shop in East London and get recommendations about which one would be the best to get.

So I am now the proud owner of an acoustic-electric ukulele. Getting an electric uke means that I can plug it in at the jam sessions and compete (in my own little way) with the mass of electric guitars always present! I'll let you know soon how I'm teaching myself to play and what songs I've been learning.

Have you taken up an instrument recently? What are you learning to play?


A New Mini Monde Term

So the start of term hasn't gone so well for me! After an enthusiastic game of tennis last week I managed to tear my Achilles tendon and am now on crutches until who knows when. I've had varying reports from people as to how long it might take to heal but for now I'm taking it easy and working as much as I can from home. The new Mini Monde term has begun...even if it is slower than I had anticipated! Here's what I've got lined up work wise this term...

Piano Lessons
Piano lessons have started up again this week and slots are filling up fast. I teach adults during the day and kids have lessons after school. I currently have 9 continuing students and 3 new ones starting. Each class is tailored to the individual and I'm looking forward to starting some new projects with a couple of my students that may include some recording of tracks! This term we will be doing a bit more music theory and work towards a Christmas concert at the end of term.

Recorder Classes
New for this term I am hoping to set up some recorder groups. I have an adult recorder group planned and have already had some interest. It will be a relaxed informal group that will meet once every 3 weeks throughout the academic year. The group is suitable for all levels, especially beginners. We will play a variety of music from classical to more popular music, starting with duets and adding parts as the group progresses. Recorder lessons are also available for kids individually and in groups.
Do you like to sing? The new Voices term has just begun and I'm excited about the programme this year! As with last year the repertoire is a mix of French and English songs (see the full programme here) and we'll be working towards concerts later on next year. This is my second year directing the beginners choir and I'll be working them a little harder this year to get through a few more songs. It's good fun and people are signing up now so if you're interested come along and try it out!

Are you back to work now that the kids are back in school? How's it going?


A Mighty Tree Has Fallen

On the last day of August, just before the kids went back to school, there was an almighty storm that marked the end of the summer and the start of the new season. It started in the evening just as the kids went to bed, the lightening and noise of the thunder scaring them and keeping them awake. We lost our electricity and as we lit candles we worried about the sausages and lamb defrosting in the freezer. (Sad I know but we have just bought half a lamb from local farmer and stocked up on sausages from a friends farm nearby!)

When we awoke the next morning we discovered that the walnut tree that has towered at the top of the village for years took a battering, and in the intensity of the wind it had given was broken. We were lucky however. In nearby Montauban the lives of two people were taken and more injured. We were fortunate that our electricity came back quickly as thousands were left without the following morning. Big storms are not unusual here and with the intense heat we've had recently it was inevitable that a storm would occur at some point. It's just a little reminder of who is in charge of this world we inhabit! Part of the tree still remains so hopefully it will recover and continue to grow providing walnuts for future generations of the village.

Do you live in the Tarn-et-Garonne region? Did you experience any storm damage?


C'est La Rentrée!

It's back to school today and after the long summer holiday our boys were more than ready to get stuck back into school life. Reuben turned 6 over the summer so this year he is going into CP (cours préparatoire) and starts formal education. At the end of last term he got given his list of school supplies that we have had to buy. In the UK all materials for the classroom are provideed by the school and it seems a little crazy that each child in his class is having to go out and buy the following...

We've had to buy not one...not even two...but three pencil cases for him to fit all his supplies into. And yes, that is a chalkboard you see. Surely it would be cheaper for the school to buy all this in bulk for students? I now totally understand why kids wheel in suitcases on a daily basis!

Jacob at 3 and a half is now in the petit section of the maternelle (nursery.) He missed out a lot last year due to breaking his leg in January and he's now going in full time. We're looking forward to his French language developing this year and seeing him form more friendships with his classmates being able to speak to them more. He's looking forward to having lunch at school!

Have your kids started back this week? Were they excited about going back or did they want the summer to last just a little bit longer?

Lou Messugo
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