As my teacher colleagues will confirm, we work so hard during term time that our holiday periods are sacrosanct. Different teachers have different priorities during their down-time; some get out of the country as much as possible, some use it to catch up with friends and family. Me, I tend to spend time in the garden, maybe catching up with some work I have been unable to fit in to the term, usually I make some new plans for the upcoming session.
This year was different, though. I started off by delivering a couple of training sessions to teachers from Glasgow schools as part of EdICT's Summer School program, where we run a fortnight of training sessions for staff who are unable to attend during term-time for whatever reason. I'm always wary of these, as you are never really sure if anyone will turn up - we are all full of good intentions during the term, but when it comes to July, and the sun is out, the temptation my be to just stay in the garden, rather than spend 90 minutes in front of a computer in a school. Well, I'm delighted to say that the sessions I ran were very well attended, and the staff seemed to enjoy their time with me, which is always nice to hear!
I then had the opportunity to deliver a Music IT training day to colleagues at Barnsley Music Education Hub. When we were setting this up, way back in January, I suggested that it could be a major day, with instructor-led sessions on a variety of topics, along with a hands-on area with laptops running other software packages that staff could go and play with whenever they wanted. That is exactly what Alex, the Hub Manager wanted, and so we ended up having sessions on GarageBand for the iPad, General Music Apps for the iPad, Smart Music and Charanga. I also brought my suite of laptops that were running Sibelius, Finale, ProTools, Cubase and Sounds Active. All of this took a fair old while to set up and prepare for, and it turned into a full-on day, but one that I thoroughly enjoyed, and judging from the feedback forms, so did the staff. Job Done!
The Barnsley day was on a Friday, and I drove directly from there to tick an item off my bucket list - attending a Formula One Grand Prix. Living in Scotland, we don't easily get the chance to see these machines up close and personal very often, and even though I had attended various motorsport events at Knockhill, I had always wanted to experience an F1 GP. Well, having spent 2 days at Silverstone, and seen and heard the cars at close quarters, I can now say that I have. Unfortunately, I left the event feeling somewhat underwhelmed. The race itself was vey processional, Lewis Hamilton led from lap one to the end, but my main gripe was the event as a spectacle. When I attend the BTCC event at Knockhill, there are support races involving cars of all different types - single-seaters, Porches, Ginetta Junior and G50s, even Radicals, in addition to the 3 races from the Touring Cars. At Silverstone, there were F3, F2 and F1 cars, which were all very similar in style, sound and speed, plus the Porches. Add to that the fact that the crowd were VERY partisan in favour of Hamilton, to a hero-worship extent, which is a trait I have never understood, and I came away thinking that I was glad I was there, but I won't be in a hurry to go back.
The next day, I had a meeting in Birmingham with the various other Regional Managers of Charanga Music Ltd, with whom I have been doing a lot of work over the past few years. It was good to meet everyone and put faces to names at last, and as usual, the atmosphere with the Charanga folks was as friendly and fun as ever. The meeting ended fairly soon, and we adjourned for a very nice lunch at a local Tapas bar, before the 5-hour drive home.
I then started preparing for the International Society for Music Education (ISME) conference in Glasgow, at which I was demonstrating Finale and Smart Music. This was a major international conference, and over the three days of the trade exhibition, we managed to have some great conversations with colleagues from all over the planet, from Africa to Australia, and from Sweden to the US of A.
I finished the summer off by attending the inaugural Ignition Festival of Motoring here in Glasgow - a great three days where I got to see and hear PROPER racing cars at close quarters, including Sebastian Vettel's title-winning RB7 Red Bull in the hands of David Coulthard, the current BTCC title-holding Honda from Gordon Shedden, plus a huge range of supercars, hypercars, hot-rods, vintage cars, a live stunt show from the Top Gear team, and a huge exhibition in the SECC from all areas of motoring. Petrol-head heaven!
Throughout all of this, I have been suffering with an in-grown toenail, which on the face of it sounds trivial, but it is actually extremely painful. Not only because of the pain in my toe, but also because one tends to walk differently to compensate, which causes all sorts of other problems in the legs and knees. I have had regular visits to a podiatrist, and we have finally decided to get it removed once and for all. That happens this week, so hopefully I can start walking normally again, and with a bit of luck be pain-free for the first time in 2 years.
So, there is a round-up of my unusually busy summer. Schools go back in Glasgow at the end of this week, and in East Dunbartonshire next week. I'll be glad of the rest!!