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  • Writer's pictureWill Sharland

May 2023

May may be one of my favourite months of the year, and this May may have even been one of the best May’s I can remember. I had kicked the post-holiday blues and I was feeling a lot more happy. On top of this, spring had truly sprung as the weather became beautiful toward the end of the month and I felt this tied in very well with my new sense of optimism. It was a very busy month, filled mostly with a lot of procrastinating (and some work here or there) but it was on the whole a pretty productive and enjoyable time.

The month began with the Made In Manchester Festival at RNCM where mine and Jihwan’s joint song celebrating the city of Manchester, ‘There’s Nowhere Greater Than Manchester’, was performed at a lunchtime concert in front of a couple hundred people. It was a highly cheesy song we’d jointly made (I had written the lyrics, he had written the music) but it was enjoyable to see the positive reaction of everyone in the crowd as well as hearing the final product. We had endless complications getting the music performed, including getting a male vocalist instead of a female vocalist after being told that we had to write for a female for months which meant we had to change the lyrics of the song the day before the concert. There was also the rehearsal that was stressful due to there being no set up for the drums, no mics and no one seeming to know what was going on, but somehow we pulled it together and we managed to get everything in place in time so the rehearsal did not overrun. It was a worthwhile learning curve overall, as are most things.

Coursework naturally began to pick up a little more as the deadlines began to loom at the start of June. That said, I felt relatively chilled compared with many others on my course who had a lot more work to submit than me due to them being in a different year to me, and me just being a first year. That said, I had some deadlines coming up which I worked on, though no doubt the really intense and stressful work will come in June.

Later in May I uploaded my Rosamond Prize entry onto YouTube with a video which I made for it. I am trying to get more of my music online as well as expand my musical portfolio which I have been successful with though I really need to do more. The video did not get as much attention as I would have liked, then again it was not the most interesting or engaging content I could have made. I think it would be good to upload more videos and songs on YouTube which I can get more attention for.

I designed, with the help of my sister and the input of some others, a logo for my brand. It’s a simple design, one which I intend to update a little more at a later date, but it’s effective and I plan to have it on all of my future invoices, business cards, and on my website and social media. I think (hope) it is a nice middle ground between being too corporate and too informal. I also think it looks quite unique, though of course it is not as though I am going to gain the kind of brand awareness that a company like Apple has, so I should be alright.

Outside of my course I have also been busy with several other music related activities. I met up with Jasper Wilkinson at the RNCM to inquire about composing music for libraries. He was extremely helpful with the information he gave me and I felt very happy that he was willing to meet me and chat when he was not even on my course. Writing library music is certainly something I would like to break into, it will be something I will need to look into more over the summer.

The Tutor Trust offered me a gig in June and they are going to pay me £150 (I would have accepted £20 but I wouldn’t let them know this). Not long after this I completed my very first invoice and I signed up with HMRC (and the Musicians Union as well) so I am now technically a freelance musician. I have been preparing music that I will play at the concert, which will mostly be quite soft jazz elevator music mixed in with a little funk and some other genres too. I still have lots to do for it.

Along with this paid work, British Youth Musical Theatre finally sent over the forms for me to sign for the work they have given me over the summer. It is my first contract that I have signed to work for anything in a musical capacity. Prior to the start of this masters, I had never been paid to do music (legally anyway) so it feels good to finally have some paid work. I have been practicing my sight reading for bass guitar which I have already improved massively on within the last few weeks, though I still have a very long way to go.

Midway through May, I also had my second band practice in Stockport with The Bluesberries / Beatles…of the 21st Century / The Integers (whatever the fuck we are called). This was good fun though it seemed a little less productive than the previous jam. For the next jam, we agreed an agenda of what we would get done. I think it has been a very useful experience jamming and trying to figure out a sound in any case. With the jams I’ve pushed myself creatively in a direction I would not normally have done. Much of what we played was not particularly great but you would get gems here and there which could be fleshed out into songs later on. It felt like there was some tension in the band already, despite us only being four practices in. Hard to say whether it is just a growing pain or if it will be a genuine artistic hurdle for us going forward. In any case, I am enjoying collaborating and I would like to see what we can do going forward.

At the RNCM, a combination of staff and students are putting on a production of the musical Into The Woods. It is a brilliant musical and I was offered the chance by some of the people working on it to provide some vocal arrangements for a community chorus which was going to be used in the production. I had a meeting with some of the people organising it and it sounded like the kind of thing I should do, despite how busy I was starting to feel, so I agreed. Let’s hope this was a good choice!

Outside of music I have been busy with other things as well, such as English tutoring which I did for a couple of days at a secondary school in Salford. The school I was in was quite hectic and in a pretty rough part of the city. That said, it was a very enjoyable experience and I liked getting to meet a real range of characters who were students at the school.

I also went to the Lake District with my fiancee for a couple of days over one of the bank holiday’s which was lovely. Toward the end of May, I also finally ran the Buxton half-marathon. It was a fantastic run in spite of my lack of training. I did not get the time I hoped to get, but I certainly got a better time than I was expecting to get.

That’s all for now, May June be even better!

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