Thinking outside the box is a skill that we ‘creatives’ like to pride ourselves in. And never has it been so important as now.

In March my good friend Dr. Jacqui Norton invited me to join her in recording a short Music Industry series for HMP at WayOutTV studios, called ‘ The Lyrics, the Music and the Money’. This was her brain child and it was designed to offer guests at Her Majesties Pleasure the chance to learn about the process of making music and perhaps even earning some money from it.

When the first lockdown came, naturally we thought the whole thing would be postponed. But no, we were wrong! Along came Zoom and miraculously it presented us with a whole new way forward.

Jezz Wright, who is head of Digital Learning at WayOutTV explained how to record in our own virtual studios; Jacqui in hers and me in mine. We encountered all sorts of hilarious difficulties, like Jacqui’s teeth suddenly turning blue in certain lighting conditions. But what we have learned from the whole process is enormous. I, for instance can now do some basic film editing and I can even solve the odd technical problem or two. Things I could never have done before.

Who could have predicted that technology could be this much fun! I can’t tell you how much we enjoyed the whole process.

So here we are...da da...we have completed all six programmes and they are due to be launched tomorrow in all of Her Majesties Prisons across the whole country.

This light hearted educational series, is being endorsed by De Montfort University in Leicester. There is a workbook to complete and a certificate will be given when the course is finished. The lessons are aimed at individuals who already have experience of performing/composing their own music, or for people who enjoy listening to all genres of music, although you don’t actually have to have experience of performing or recording to complete the course.

Dr. Jacqui Norton has been involved in the Music Industry for a number of years from music publishing, production music (music for tv/radio/films/games) artist management and live. She now lectures on that subject area and in fact that is how we originally met, when we were both lecturing at The London College of Music.

It’s been great fun working with Jacqui, she is one of those inspired people who has passion and drive for all her projects and working with those behind bars has driven her philosophy of rehabilitation. It is exactly with that in mind that I take my hat off to her and I am very proud to join her in this part of the journey.

Alan Rickett and I started LFT Productions (a not-for-profit company) in Islington where our children went to school. It's a fairly leafy inner city part of London and a nice place to live. Well that was what we thought until we discovered the whole Borough had been declared an Air Quality Management Area. It had concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM 10) that exceeds the UK air quality standards. Rather worrying!

So here we are in the ninth week of ‘lockdown’. The Zoom rehearsals are wearing a bit thin and it would be so nice to see our band, Lot 49 , in person again and hear us all playing in the same room....together.

Our guitarist, Max grins at the screen and tells us that he is doing some blinding riffs...But of course we’ll never know. ‘Hey Great Max, sounds fabby!’

Another body blow for creatives in the music industry took place a couple of days ago, the second one in a matter of weeks. The first was at the end of January when the Government announced that is has ‘no plans’ to comply with the EU Copyright Directive after the country leaves the European Union via Brexit. This has huge implications for the music industry.

Photo - New Strictly dancer Johannes Radebe.

On Saturday, I really Iucked out. I was at the Strictly Studios in Elstree as the guest of my good friend Kim Appleby. And of course because she is who she is...we had front row seats. So thank-you Kim!

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