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  • Writer's pictureWill Sharland

January 2023

2023 started like every year of my adult life, with a roaring hangover. That said, things looked fairly optimistic for old Wilmslow Will. For once the hangover blues had passed, I felt an eagerness to start a brand new year. I was slated to be the musical director and arranger for a musical based around the life of Micky Dacks, a former gang member and convict who had grown up in Salford. Meeting Micky was an interesting experience, he was an imposing but friendly figure who had reformed from a life of crime to becoming a successful youth worker. The musical he had written was based on his early life and his eventual redemption. The musical he has written is called ‘Innit’ and it is targeted at mostly young people, with the aim of both getting them into theatre and also dissuading them from criminality. My job was to rearrange the songs as the previous arranger for the musical was having his contribution written out of the musical due to the fact that he was trying to get more money out of the charity financing the production. Micky, to his credit, wanted to ensure that the musical would be free to as many young people as possible so he was finding someone to undo the contribution of the original arranger. We were put in touch by one of my lecturers at RNCM and over the Christmas period I tried rearranging the songs for him but unfortunately I fell a little short of what he wanted. He liked the overture I composed (which was all me) but he was not taken with my arrangements. It was a bit of a gut punch missing out on this potentially life changing opportunity, but I am proud of myself for getting out there and I feel more energised to pursue my own musical projects.

As luck would have it, several good opportunities have become available to me in January which I would otherwise have been unable to do if I had worked with Micky. One of these includes an opportunity to have some of my own original musical ‘Kevin! [The Musical]’ performed and workshopped with the University of Manchester Musical Theatre Society. I am also applying to have some of my musical performed at the RNCM over the summer as well as applying for a work placement over the summer with British Youth Musical Theatre. None of these I would have had time to do had I been busy with this other project.

Beyond the musical theatre work, I was able in January to finish the music I had written for the short film ‘Lost In Time’ for the Berlin International Film Scoring Competition. The music I composed was a tad generic, but I was proud of the production quality and I learned a lot working with several traditional Chinese instrument players. One of my tutors who I showed the score to was quite underwhelmed with the music I had written for some fairly good reasons, mainly due to it being not particularly unique. His criticism is valid for I need to find my own distinct voice musically if I am to stand out. Following on from this feedback, I have a few pieces of music that I am currently composing where I am trying to push the limit of my musical abilities. I have a piece for sax, piano and electronics which I am currently composing and hope to have performed at the composers concert in March. I am also writing a big band piece which is less of a learning curve but nonetheless useful to write. I am also improving the songs from my own musical with the help of my new tutor who himself has written several musicals to date.

Beyond music, I have been building my home music studio in my room which has been an interesting experience for I have put up a lot of sound proofing which has taken a lot of time and been rather expensive. My room already sounds better and it looks more like a studio though it is far from being complete. Some further achievements this month have included getting back into a more solid fitness routine, a better diet and also avoiding alcohol for all of January. My girlfriend and I have also bought tickets to go to Jordan in April. We still have some planning to do but it shall hopefully be done in time. I tried to start learning some Arabic on Duolingo but it was a pointless effort as I can hardly speak English.

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