Year End Show 2011 – Own The Night

The Songworks Music School members of Who’s That Girl, Lady Rock, Noise To Men - and myself – will be performing our show Own the Night at a year-end party to be held at the Yellowwood Café in Howick on Friday 2nd December at 7.00pm. This will take place instead of a full scale December festival. We have planned a dinner/show/party so put on your dancing shoes and get ready to celebrate a successful year!

Yellowwood Conference Centre: The Fairfell Room

You will recall from earlier newsletters this year that the date Sunday 4th December was chosen for the Summer festival, however we bought that date forward to Friday 2nd and scaled down the event when I realized that I might have to have surgery scheduled for December. This decision was made long before the private schools changed their closing date to Tuesday 29th November. It’s just not feasible for me to change the concert date as a lot of my perfomers will still be at school, some of them writing exams and I will still have a very heavy weekly teaching load. Those girls who live in the area but are around have been included in the programme and others are welcome if you or they wish to stay on in Hilton for a couple of days after the term ends. A few have already indicated that they would like to do this, others are heading off for their holidays.

Members of the joint company are: Jess Pinnell, Gemma Parsons, Tara Price, Tara Martin, Cassie Lotze, Grace Crooks, Gemma Adey, Sian Gunkel, Lizaan Pelser, Ashleigh Reitz, Julia Church, Georgi Borros, Chloe Heunis, Nikki Mayne, Shannon Harvey, Kez Black, Charlene Vos, Tanna Blumberg, Abi Nelson, Michelle Smith, Mike Vos, Craig Anderson, Sean Anderson and Liam McKintosh.

Once again Sandra Murphy has offered us a great deal on her venue and meal at a very busy time of the year (prime time for her with lots of year end festivities!)

The ticket price of R165 per person includes R150 for Yellowwood: 2 course meal – Beef Bourguignon and Thai Chicken Curry served buffet style (vegetarian option is a Roasted Butternut Lasagne) and Cheesecake or Chocolate Mousse Cake served plated, tea and coffee, venue hire, a gratuity for the staff and R15 as a partial contribution towards staging (in other words costs Steve and I will incur). There will be a cash bar.

We are planning to seat 60+ people in the venue on large round tables. If you wish to attend please book with Steve or myself and we will need to have confirmation of payment by Monday 31st October. Cash to Steve or to myself via internet bank transfer. You will appreciate that a Friday night at the beginning of December is a very popular date. SMS or email Steve or myself because we have agreed with Sandra to pay upfront by November 1st for a minimum of 50 people in order to secure the venue. Please specify if there are any vegetarians when you make your booking. If you wish your performer to eat from the buffet please purchase a meal only ticket (R150) – otherwise the usual bring and share will apply for them. N.B. Performers will be seated at a group table, not with their parents.

Members of Future Shock plus younger siblings of the performers are welcome to attend but this is a teen/adult event not one aimed at kiddies so the ticket price is the same as for an adult if you wish them to sit with you and eat from the buffet. You are welcome to bring as many guests as you like (within reason!) Once we have confirmed the booking there may be additional tickets made available.

Just to be quite clear, if we haven’t received payment for 50 people by 31st October, we will have no choice but to let our booking go and cancel the show because we will be liable for the full amount (R150 X 50 = R7500) and can’t afford to carry that risk. This would be a very sad outcome for the performers who have worked so hard and who get so much out of live performance. The levels of excitement are already reaching fever pitch!

We do appreciate that money is tight at the end of the year so completely understand if some of you feel that the event is something that your budget won’t quite stretch to. Steve and I are committed to staging the events we do in order to give our students the opportunity to perform live rather than merely attending weekly classes in the studio. Inevitably there is a considerable cost attached to creating and sustaining an environment that comes as close as possible to the professional experience.

In addition to all the work involved in staging the show from conception to completion, we have just purchased a brand new multi-level professional stage and a brilliant new LED lighting rig from Prosound in Durban. This represents an investment of over R20 000 to ensure that this and future shows will be visually as well as aurally spectacular events!

With regards to the venue and the meal on offer we’ve shopped around and believe this is excellent value.

Songworks Winter Concert 2010

On 25th July 2010 Tracy Stark’s Songworks Music School held their first open-air Winter Concert at the magnificent Lionsgate Farm in the KZN Midlands.Over 30 singers and musicians performed on a perfect afternoon which family, friends and the artists themselves will never forget. 12 months of hard work culminated in an afternoon of live music which rocked the Midlands. Many were performing in front of an audience for the first time in their lives. Congratulations to you all. See you next year…!

*NB: If the video doesn’t play for some reason, press play then click on 360p at the bottom of the video and select 480p .

Gershon on You Tube

Gershon performing ‘Feel‘ by Robbie Williams at the Songworks Music School Winter Concert

The Winter Concert at Lionsgate: Aftermath

Hi Everyone!

Sunday 25th July 2010 at Lionsgate Farm was a very special day in the KZN Midlands. This was the day that the Songworks Music School held its 1st Winter Concert. 12 months of hard work, determination and perseverance culminated in an afternoon of live music that rocked the Midlands.

For nearly all the students it was the first time they had performed outside of the privacy and sanctuary of our music school. The first time they had stood behind a microphone and had an audience standing in front of them.

To those people who have never experienced this you have no idea of the adrenalin that rushes through your system. Performing live is nerve-wracking and scary but it is also exhilarating, thrilling and intense. For some of us it is an addictive experience that makes one hunger for more. The achievements of these young people cannot be over-stated. I hope that the self-belief and confidence they derived from conquering some very real fears will stand them all in good stead in other aspects of their lives be it at school, and in the longer term as they make the transition into adulthood as young men and women. Whether they choose to make a career in the performing arts or whether it is just a part of their young lives that they look back on with happiness and pride, they will be better for the experience…

In all there were over 30 separate musical acts from performers some as young as 7 yrs of age ranging upwards to early 20s The full programme is reproduced at the end of this article…

Congratulations to all who took part. Without exception everybody who performed really upped their game on the day and I am intensely proud of you all.

Perhaps an unforeseen foundation for why this happened was laid down at the dress rehearsal the day before the concert. Most of the students met each other for the first time that day and as one performer followed another you could sense a very special atmosphere was being created. There was no sense of rivalry or competition in evidence. Instead these young people all bonded to support and give encouragement and praise to each other.

By the end of the day they had all been through a shared experience, many battling through extreme nervousness and insecurity. For the first time they saw themselves not as individuals but as members of a group who shared similar dreams and aspirations. These were people of like minds, kindred spirits in music.

When I founded this School this was exactly what I had in mind and hoped for and so this weekend has been a very special experience for me. What we are hopefully creating is a mini Fame Academy where artists appreciate the talent of their peers and colleagues, where they push and encourage themselves and each other to push themselves to better performances, where they can form lasting friendships, teaming up to do duets together, try new things out and inspire one other to achieve greater things.

The appreciation from the audience of 150 was clear to see on the day and the comments and emails I have received from people who were there on the day have been full of praise and almost wonderment. Many parents who considered their child or children to be quite shy and perhaps introverted were genuinely overwhelmed not just by the quality of their performances but by the enormity of the huge step they had taken by putting themselves out there and sharing what they have to offer.

Our School has very little in common with the Idols formula which promotes the myth of instant discovery, fame and individual celebrity. Please don’t misunderstand me – I’m not in the slightest bit against the idea of competition in sport, business or in other walks of life but I have no interest in or see no value in judging one voice over another That is not at all what our School is about – we are about celebrating the diversity and range of each other’s individual talents. After all, who is to say whether Michael Buble sings better than Robbie Williams or Whitney Houston is better than Madonna! Some days we choose rock other days we choose soul.

This, our 1st concert, will certainly not be our last! We fully intend to make The Winter Concert an annual event and everybody agreed that the venue was absolutely perfect. Trayci and Stuart Tompkins who very kindly invited us to host this event at their home, the magnificent Lionsgate Farm, have already confirmed that they are keen to see us return again next year and I firmly hope that The Winter Concert will become an annual event and a fixture in Midlands life which will give a performance platform to many other young people in the years to come. One parent remarked that it felt like a young people’s Splashy Fen and if that is the general feeling, I’m cool with that!

However a year is a long time to wait and now that the performance bug has well and truly bitten we are already exploring the possibility of putting on a Summer/Christmas Concert. We will be looking to find a suitable indoor venue to create something like the Barnyard experience (the notoriously unpredictable Midlands weather makes this inevitable)… I will keep you posted…

Until then, we are reliving the experience through all the photos, videos and recordings that were made on the day. If you have any that you can share with us please pop them onto a disc and drop them off at the studio. From there they will make it onto the website, our studio wall, or maybe onto You Tube! Watch this space…

And thank you, all of you who worked to make this event such a great success. All the members of Songworks, their parents and friends, especially Shannon Rushworth and Sabello Zuma, the St Charles School Band and their team of roadies and Vincent Khumalo for managing the venue. Above all, our thanks to Stuart and Trayci Tompkins for their generosity in donating such a wonderful array of beautiful prizes, and for hosting our Winter Concert.

Tracy and Steve

The Idols Factor

Every year at around about this time, those of us who are musicians get swept up in the frenzy that is SA Idols. Many of you will also have felt the addictive effects of American Idol, Britain’s Got Talent, The X Factor and all our local versions of the “rags to riches” shortcut to fame. To me, the most  disturbing undercurrent of all these shows is the over-riding desire of the contestants to become a celebrity rather than merely a musician or a performer. These programmes promise easy fame and fortune. They make only passing mention of the hard-slog behind the scenes. The daily vocal training, the bone-grinding exhausting dance classes, the endless rehearsing and sitting around waiting for the techies to do their job – and in many cases having to do it yourself. No one tells you of the long hours spent traveling to and from gigs, carrying your 20kg speakers up three flights of stairs, and the night after night strain of performing live until your fingers ache and your voice goes hoarse.

Everyone who enters this competition needs to be prepared to compete. The competition is fierce and the programme is designed to create tension and stress. For everyone who enters  Idols there are hundreds of talented individuals who would never put themselves through a tortuous process which ultimately tests resilience and nerve. You have to be prepared for rejection and nothing really prepares you for rejection. Perhaps you can bounce back from the disappointment of not making it – you tell yourself only 25 people were picked out of thousands that tried out so that’s fine. But it does cut deeper than you think!  You really need to develop a thick hide in this business and for Idols it has to be 10 times as thick!

To those students who still believe that winning Idols is a ticket to the big time I ask them and their parents to think about what that life entails. Do you really want to be on stage every night when the rest of the world has got its feet up? Just from my own experience, until 4 years ago I have spent virtually every Friday night on stage since I was 16. That includes birthdays, holidays, when I was pregnant, when my children were little, every New Year’s Eve and believe me the material rewards were not great! With regard to the industry though  I would be classed as a successful musician – having always had work and now, in recent years being able to work on my own terms.

If you still want to be famous it means huge personal sacrifice. It means burning ambition and a will to do whatever is necessary to get ahead. I cannot emphasise how much discipline and hard work is required. You will also need to have your own material, your own band – that is if you don’t play an instrument yourself – and a clear sense of what your act is. If you can’t perform for at least 2 hours you don’t have a product and as a result you won’t get a gig! A nice voice and a pretty outfit will only get you as far as the Idols audition.