My Hero

8th November 2011

I wonder if you have a hero? If so, I wonder what sort of hero this person is. Maybe he or she plays sports. Maybe he or she is in a book. Or maybe he or she is on TV.

I have a hero. He appears on TV. I want to tell you a little bit about him. His name is Gareth Malone.

So what does my hero do on TV? Well, he runs reality TV shows. But Gareth’s reality shows are no ordinary reality shows. In most reality shows there are competitions or arguing. People fight, people put each other down, people work hard to make sure they beat the others. What makes Gareth’s shows different is that everyone wins. Everyone cooperates with each other. Everyone works hard to be the best they can—not to beat each other, but to support and help one another.

My hero, Gareth Malone

It sounds like a fairy tale doesn’t it? Well, actually, it sounds like music! For Gareth Malone is a choir master. In his reality shows, Gareth goes to unusual places to form choirs. These places have no tradition of choirs. Not only that, they generally have no desire to have a choir. For example, in the past Gareth has gone into an all boys sports school and a town with a lot of people out of work.

When Gareth arrives in these places many of the people there are often sad or lonely. They often wish there was something that could bring people together to form a better community. And they often wish there was something they could do in the community that they could be proud of.

When Gareth leaves these places, many people’s lives have been changed. There is happiness. There is a sense of community. And there is a sense of pride in that community.

And how does he do it? The answer is music. Music, music, music. By getting people to sing together, to express their feelings in song, people begin to come alive. They begin to make friends. They feel pride in what they are doing. And the community they are in feels pride in their local choir. By singing together, the singers become more fully human.

Last night I watched the latest episode of Gareth Malone’s TV programmes. It was amazing. In fact, it made me cry. For this time Gareth has gone into an army base—not to make a choir of the soldiers, but to make a choir of the soldiers’ wives and girlfriends. Most of the soldiers are fighting in Afghanistan. The women are left behind—looking after children, keeping the house going, all the time hoping that their husbands or boyfriends come home again. It’s enough to make anyone sad and lonely. But through music making, Gareth helps turn this sadness into happiness, and the loneliness into friendship.

While the heroes are fighting in Afghanistan, a different sort of hero is making a difference to some of those left behind—all through the power of music!

Who knows? If there were more of this sort of hero making music, perhaps there would be fewer wars and so less of a need for other heroes to risk their lives in battle.

If you are interested in watching the Gareth Malone’s TV programme, it is on Mondays at 9pm on BBC2 for the next couple of weeks. (It is unfortunate that this is on too late for children, but there is always BBC iPlayer!). Also, do take a look at Gareth Malone’s website. There’s lots to look at there!

Picture credits:
  1. My hero, Gareth Malone. This comes from a collection of photos on Gareth Malone’s website.


Can you believe it? This is what a four-year old said to his mother after going to a concert of classical music! His name is Joe and he has two brothers. This is what they said about the same concert:

“I really enjoyed the concert. It was amazing to see a big orchestra so close up. When can we go again?”
                                                                                                                                                            Will, age 9.

“My favourite bit was the musical postcards when we had to think about where a piece of music was from and what it was called.”
                                                                                                                                                            Josh, age 12.

It was this family’s first ever experience of a classical music concert—and they all absolutely loved it!

So what was this exciting concert that has made these kids so enthusiastic? Well, it was another CBSO family concert (on Sunday 20th March). Did you read my article about the last one? The music from that one was out this world. This time the music came from all over the world!

We had music from Ireland, USA, Brazil, China, Russia, South Africa… As Josh said above, sometimes we weren’t even told where the music came from and we had to make a guess! It was so exciting to go on a musical tour of the world.

But for me, there was something even more exciting about this concert than the music itself. What was even more exciting was the way the music was performed! Music is about far more than just sound! It is about seeing too—seeing how the sound is made and seeing the people involved in making it. Unfortunately people who only listen to CDs or iPods never realise this.

So what was so good about the way the music was performed. The answer in two words is Alasdair Malloy. He was the presenter at this concert—and a very entertaining and enthusiastic one he was too. But he was much more than this. He was also a performer. It was amazing to watch someone so enthusiastic about music—and so talented too! He simply joined in with the music in any way he could think of—with different types of drums, a guitar, and even a glass harmonica….

A what? Yes, a glass harmonica! Have you ever filled up a glass with water and rubbed your hand over it to make a sound? I’m sure every silly dad in the world has tried this! I know I have (and I know I’m silly too!!). But can you imagine turning this into an instrument? No? Well, it can be done. Just take a look at the video below to see what I mean. This is a very famous piece by Johann Sebastian Bach. It is written for the organ. But just look at it being played on glasses:

Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor played on a Glass Harmonica!

Isn’t that amazing to watch? Do you see what I mean now? Music really is about so much more than sound. It is about things, places and people. In fact it is about everything that you can possibly imagine. In short, it is about being human. That’s why music is exciting. That’s why the family above found the concert so exciting.

And this is why you too should go to a concert. If you’re in the Birmingham area, the next CBSO family concert is on Sunday 15th May at 3pm. And the theme this time is ‘Little Red Riding Hood’. So from out of this world, to round this world, we’re off to the world of fairy tales!

See you there!

P.S. By the way, the girl I took to the previous CBSO family concert was so enthusiastic about it that she dragged her whole family along to the latest one! And they all loved it! Hopefully I can persuade one of them to write a comment below…

Video credits:
  1. Glass harp-Toccata and fugue in D minor-Bach-BWV 565. Toccata and fugue in D minor by J. S. Bach
    played on glass harp (musical glasses) by Robert Tiso.


Merry Christmas!

20th December 2010

Merry Christmas everybody! Thank you for visiting my site this year. Christmas is a great time for music. People are making music all over the world at this time of year. For many people, it’s the one time of year they do make music—by singing Christmas songs. I’ve been making music too. Yesterday afternoon I […]

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“Amazing! That’s All I Can Say.”

10th December 2010

That’s what a 9-year old girl wrote in her diary on Sunday after going to her first ever concert of classical music. And her mother told me afterwards that her daughter had been “quite overwhelmed by the experience”. You might think from this that I’m going to tell you about another fantastic children’s concert (see […]

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Music That’s Out Of This World

11th November 2010

The CBSO have done it again! Last Sunday they performed another children’s concert to a packed hall (see How Would You Like to Drive a World Class Racing Car? for an article about the previous one). And the music this time was out of this world! I know, I know—it’s another one of my riddles. […]

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Scary Music on Halloween

1st November 2010

It was Halloween last night. And last night I watched a bunch of kids dressed in black scare me witless. These kids didn’t just scare me—they terrified me! I’m not kidding. I was really really scared. And the kids didn’t even say a single word—not even “Boo!”. So what did these kids do that made […]

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Too Sad for Words

8th October 2010

I have something different for you this week. I want to tell you about a book for grown-ups that I have just finished reading. It’s called ‘A Song for Jenny’ and is written by Julie Nicholson. This book is a true story. It is about a young woman called Jenny Nicholson. She was killed when […]

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Is Music Just For Entertainment?

29th September 2010

Have you ever noticed how much music we hear nowadays? It’s everywhere—in shops, in restaurants, in the ads on TV, in computer games… You can’t get away from music. Yet because there is so much music around, people are turning off. They don’t notice music anymore. They think it’s not that important. It’s just entertainment. […]

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Famous Scientist Says Music is Very Important

13th September 2010

Hello everybody! It’s been a while since I’ve written any news. It’s been summer, which means holidays and fun. I hope you’ve had a good time if you’ve been away. I’ve been wondering for a few weeks what to write about for my first news entry after a while away. Should it be the great […]

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Everyone’s a Winner with Music!

6th July 2010

England’s not a very happy place at the moment. Not only have they been knocked out of the World Cup football, but Andrew Murray didn’t get to the finals at Wimbledon either. Isn’t that sad? All that expectation. All that excitement. And all that time and hard work in training the sportsmen. What was it […]

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