Over the past month events in the UK and around the World have been a bit of a game changer, causing uncertainty, intreague and plenty of heated discussion across London. From Whitehall to Hackney, Golders Green to Bexley Heath, the conversation seems to have moved on to what the latest events in Westminster might entail for the country as a whole rather than the latest gossip around Big Brother and the X Factor. In many ways, whilst I carry out piano tuning, I seem to notice myself surrounded by highly opinionated conversations concerning Brexit, a new Prime Minister and potential predictions about the future.
Throughout London we have experienced ample sunshine and much higher temperatures that somehow seem to be keeping pace with the heated political climate. Things however, appear much more civilised around the UK compared to the unfortunate attacks in mainland Europe, such as the attempted coup in Turkey, the death of 84 people in Nice and the more recent spate of bizarre attacks across Germany. Incidents like these appeal to my British sense of being and I sometimes wonder whether or not we really can resolve arguments and problems just by enjoying a nice cup of tea.
I feel fortunate to be in a profession that brings the gift of music to people from all backgrounds and walks of life, bringing them together through music. Time spent servicing or transporting a piano, for me personally, equates to bringing the gifts of creativity, harmony and the celebration of life. The brilliant sunny weather during these uncertain times symbolises the hope that we as a nation will have a bright future no matter what it brings. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with AMH Pianos to find out for yourself the magic of great sound and excellent customer service.
It’s the beginning of what we may regard as the only summer we are going to probably get in the Capital, possibly in the UK. We have been blessed with exceptional weather as of late, which means that it is time to go have a picnic in Hyde Park, chill out at lunch at St. James’s Park, or do a bit of Window shopping around Oxford Street. On a good day at the weekend, one may even fancy a boat ride, departing from Embankment, Westminster or Tower Hill piers. It is also the final stretch for the universities, after which hard working students will get a break for summer. All this amounts to tourists, bustling activity or nights out near near Soho, or a gig or two at the O2 Arena near North Greenwich. Music, Wimbledon and longer hours of daylight are what we have to look forward to in our fine city. Life is good for everyone, just like it always has been since the dawn of time, right?
May 1st is the Maypole, or Maple Day. Across Europe, the day is marked with celebrations of Pagan and Christian traditional festivals. May 1st is the official mark of the Pagan Spring, and marks roughly the mid-point between the Vernal Equinox (March 21st) and Summer Solstice (June 21st). This means there are plenty of reasons for you to have your piano tuned, and AMH Pianos is here to help with anything and everything relating to pianos. Over time, the Roman Republic has celebrated Floralia, the festival of flora, whilst Christian Europe has celebrated Beltane, the festival of fertility, and the Walpurgis Night, the Christian Reformation of the Germanic region to coincide on the day.
In cosmopolitan London, we had bonfires, Maypole Dancing and even some spectacular flower displays. I even learnt that in Northern Europe, it is a day when women would leave a rose on their admirer’s doorstep, where they may/may not reveal their own identity to the object of their affections.
Over time though, this day has become more synonymous with the labour movement, and symbolises the struggle for many workers to have better working conditions, fair pay, reasonable working hours and a two day weekend. We should not forget the fact that many people lost their lives and suffered wrongful imprisonment or unfair treatment for the struggle for human rights and a consequent increase in life expectancy. I am personally thankful to those improvements, which have allowed me to set up my business, get assistance with difficult tasks, and therefore expand my services to include piano removals, repairs and servicing. We should never forget the need for a fairer world.
Whilst in the month of May, we also encountered Friday the 13th last week. The concept of bad luck originated with the French Army, whose troops marched over a hanging bridge in unison, causing the bridge to collapse at resonant frequency. However, we have now attributed the day to all things bad luck, scary or even intensely creepy. Whilst luck is important, my final thoughts in this piece are that it takes a lot more than luck to succeed in life, or at whatever you do. Hard work, resilliance, honesty, a positive and friendly attitude, and a commitment to improvement, are all qualities more akin to Maypole day than Friday the 13th.
Have you got any of your own stories from the bank holiday? Did you face any bad luck, or even good luck, contrary to the expected trends of Friday the 13th? Do you have any favourite melodies for the month of May? Please feel free to discuss in the comments. And from AMH Pianos, I wish you lots of good luck!
Training for the upcoming London Marathon is not easy! In spite of having already run a considerable amount, just packing in the miles, as any experienced runner would tell you, is simply not enough. There is a range of factors requiring constant ongoing attention; overall fitness, diet, rest and sleep and even the right kind of shoes and sensible clothing depending on the weather. Then again, did I forget to mention AMH Pianos, and the wide area that we cover on a fulltime basis?
Yes it is a gruelling often draining regime from start to finish, literally. Even a standard practice run, lasting a few miles, is able to burn up thousands of calories – thousands more than normal. So why do it? Why should one such as myself pay good money and spend months, training for an event that was first commemorated to honour the sacrifice of a lone Greek soldier who ran a distance of 26 miles to inform the Athenians about an impending Persian attack close to the port city of Marathon? Why endure physical hardship when, at the same time, tuning and moving pianos presents me with physical exertion in the first place?
With over 36, 000 runners participating each year, everyone has their own reason. Some do it for charity whilst others take it upon themselves to prove to their peers and loved ones their own unique abilities. Even more astonishingly, a sizeable group of people do it for a living, hoping to emulate national and international milestones. My sole reason: Metro Blind Sport, a charity of usually understated importance that is battling on perhaps a vital issue blighting the disabled community as a whole: physical fitness. Many people may or may not realise that a blind or partially sighted person may be limited in their overall mobility, which in turn affects their social wellbeing, quality of life and even mental health. Exposing myself and other blind and partially sighted people to a world of physical fitness and adaptive sports is the sole aim of this small London based charity.
As promised I will continue to keep my readers posted on the progress of my training, meanwhile I would appeal to my readers to please donate generously to this wonderful
The New Year has been and gone; fireworks, after-parties, New Year’s resolutions and good wishes all around. In fact, we have probably broken our New Year’s resolutions long ago, and cheery Christmas music and tinsel have long been replaced by the usual chart toppers; the lights are now off amid what many people may describe as the most challenging month of the year. Sounds familiar? No, not quite yet.
Living in London, the Metropolitan capital of the World, is not even close to a dull affair. Just listen beneath the surface and you will notice that celebrations carry on and on. I feel extremely delighted about the fact that, no matter where I am in the City, the Christmas and New Year theme carries on throughout the month of January, meaning that there is a party to attend only a short train ride away.
When most of us are finished with the 12 days of Christmas the following day heralds the arrival of the Armenian, and Greek Orthodox Christmas, followed by the New Year’s celebration around the 14th of January. Fortunately therefore, the large Greek and Armenian communities in London pull out all the stops, culminating in extremely creative, melodic sounds coupled with some of the most iconic rhythms on the planet. You just need to listen.
The month of January also happens to be Black History Month. It is not only a time to remember, and make amends for, our shameful collective past, but also a time for musical education. Be it Caribbean Calypso, African Polyrhythms, various inclinations of Jazz and Soul, there is great music beyond the UK Top 40. Again, you just need to keep your ear out whilst walking the streets of our beautiful capital.
Finally towards the end of the month, we gather together to welcome in the Chinese New Year. This ancient rich culture has played an important role in astrology, ancient mythology, and of course, fascinating music with a completely different perspective to the West. This New Year’s Celebrations are truly a spectacle – one of increasing importance due to the cultural and socio-economic empowerment of China, along with a growing Chinese diaspora.
With so much going on, I do wonder why anybody, especially in London would have a reason to feel depressed just yet. There are great food, fabulous costumes and a colourful vibe on display, all with the opportunity to gain cultural insight and education. One just needs to get involved in the amazing London community and there will be plenty of events at which to give and receive the best wishes for the New Year. Last but not least, wherever you may be reading this, have a great 2016 from AMH Pianos.
I am always fascinated by, and deeply interested in the history of places which I carry out my work of tuning pianos, restoration and repairs, and piano removals. I like to imagine what it might have been like back in time, as London which we know today developed from small villages or even a collection of properties. This is my favourite whistle stop historical account of Lewisham, a vibrant and important borough of London.
Lewisham began its humble Saxon beginnings as Oleofsa’s village. In 862 Lewisham was referred to as LIofshema Mearc, then as Lieuesham in 918 and as Levesham in the Doomsday Book In 1086. Abraham Colfe, Vicar of Lewisham (1610-1657), founded a grammar school, a primary school, and six almshouses for the inhabitants of Lewisham.
In 1816 Lewisham was described as a rural village on the banks of the Ravensbourne that could only be reached by a long coach ride. It’s hard to imagine anyone trying to cover the distance in a day without what TFL has provided us in terms of transportation these days.
In 1828 the Riverdale Mill was built and is the only one of the Ravensbourne mills still surviving today. The Riverdale Mill was initially a leather mill and then became a corn mill in the 18th century. The first railway through Lewisham, the North Kent Line to Dartford, opened in 1849 and the present Lewisham station opened in 1857. In 1897 the Lewisham Clock tower was built to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897.
The Lewisham Street Market started in 1906 Lewisham town centre was devastated by a flying bomb in 1944, but recovered by the 1950’s. In 1977 the Lewisham Shopping Centre was built and in 1994 the High Street in the town centre was pedestrianised allowing a traffic-free street market and an open space.
Lewisham’s rich history has fed into the vibrant diverse town centre that it is today. The area is bordered by Catford, Deptford, Greenwich and Hither Green. It is a busy shopping district with a good mix of chain and independent stores and Lewisham Shopping Centre, which is one of the biggest in South East London, and Lewisham Market. The market is open seven days a week with the Monday to Saturday market selling mainly fruit, vegetables, fresh cut flowers and a small range of non-perishable goods. The Sunday market is a general market selling non-perishable goods with up to 60 stalls. There is also an annual programme of themed markets, which include, French, Polish, International and a market made up of local traders.
On Lee High Road there is an eclectic mix of independent shops which include an Italian barbers, an accordion shop, a Polish shop and fancy dress shop. At the Ladywell end of Lewisham High Street a pet store, a selection of beauty and hair dressing businesses and a wide selection of specialist food stores can be found.
Lewisham Borough’s famous residents, past and present include Danny Baker (Broadcaster), Kate Bush (singer/song-writer), James Callaghan (Labour Prime Minister), Sir James Clark-Ross (polar explorer), Big Jim Connell (socialist), Ernest Dowson (poet), Alfred Titch Freeman (cricketer), Gabrielle (singer/song-writer), Sir Isaac Hayward (politician), Glenda Jackson MP (politician & actress), David Jones (painter & poet), Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen (TV presenter), Spike Milligan (comedian & writer), Mica Paris (singer/song-writer), Sybil Pheonix MBE (community worker), Terry Waite (Archbishop’s Envoy), Max Wall (comedian) and Ian Wright (footballer), just to name a few. That seems to be a fairly illustrious, star studded list if I say so myself.
I really enjoy travelling throughout this part of the city, and sometimes wonder in hundreds of years time, how will people be living, and will there be pianos to tune.
Meanwhile, if you would like some attention for your piano here in 2015, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
The nights are drawing in & the season for pyrotechnics has begun across Britain. Starting with Halloween, it gathers pace, culminating with a bang at the New Year. Revered highly by the ancient Greeks & worshipped by the Zoroastrians fire has fascinated man since the dawn of time. The old traditions of history, like the Hindu wedding ceremony & the Olympic torch, all depict a harmonious relation between fire & music. So as I wander throughout London, I can just imagine the City’s historical grandeur consisting of gaslights, architecture & beautiful music – perhaps some of the finest works ever created.
European classical music has been created to grip, captivate & provoke thought. Could the creative purity remain unadulterated, not confined to today’s chart topping convention! Today’s instrument definitions have changed whilst fire remains constant. The contrast intrigues me. Classical music is deceptively simple in execution & creation, despite the complexities of the stories & human emotions conveyed. With our shorter attention spans, craving more extravagant visual displays, is our aesthetic appreciation rising at the expense of our musical concentration?
Is our changing perception evolutionary or revolutionary? Was there an event that tipped the balance to make us resonate more with transverse light than with longitudinal sound waves? Is the trend reversible? If so then what would the catalyst be? Only a few days after Guy Fawkes Night, I leave you with these thought provoking questions. Meanwhile, I am hoping for a new, more fulfilling sound leading into 2016.
The cosmopolitan metropolis, our capital, has spawned many talented artists across all creative disciplines. As our population diversifies post world war II, we continue to embrace the fusion of styles, creating something entirely new representing the globalising, hybridising melting pot that is London. Extending our geographical reach across Europe, and further widening the net to the Middle East and North Africa, is it possible to separate London’s modern style, whose boundaries have been blurred into one another throughout history?
I notice an interesting modern musical phenomenon with a clear north-south divide. Music in southern Europe appears to have more of a pop variety, whilst the northerners lean towards heavier beats, culminating in the Scandinavian heavy metal craze. I can extend my argument by pointing to the boundaries of Europe where the style, to this day, retains its old world musical roots. One only needs to take southern Spain, where the music has Flamenco overtones (itself originating from the migrant Indian Gypsies), and Arabic and Hebrew styles due to the Muslim and Jewish communities respectively. Similarly Greek and Turkish music maintain their links to medieval classical music, as does the music of the Balkans and other southern European states. Note that Middle Eastern and North African music still sound similar to Klasma and Raga, that continue to be popular and prevalent long after their creation close to 1000 years earlier.
Now observe how Germanic, Celtic and similar northern European music has a more rock influence, with heavier, louder beats and a slightly classical melodic overlay. Additionally, notice how central European music appears to blur the boundaries between northern and southern styles, both in composition and performance. Interestingly, Scandinavian music continually produces heavy metal musicians in the modern charts, with acts like Lordi, even winning the Eurovision Song Contest.
Why this divide? Music is after all still performed using familiar instruments and mainly composed and taught in our curriculum using the piano, an instrument that has stood the test of time and heavily influences music across Europe and its surroundings regardless of genre. Certainly the northern regions experience extreme cold, whilst southern Europe and the Middle East can get temperatures in excess of 40c. Let’s also examine the more fast-paced, task-oriented life-style of the North, compared to the South’s relaxed, more leisurely approach. Surely these factors would affect the artists and adoring public alike. Factor in the industrial revolution, resulting in some of the most advanced infrastructure and social reforms on the planet in Northern Europe and Scandinavia. In contrast Southern Europe is presently experiencing a recession and a consequent drop in living standards. Returning to the arts, notice the linguistic precision English, German, Danish and Swedish and contrast this to the expressive richness of Italian, Greek, Turkish, and even Arabic and Hebrew. There is a musical connection, surely!
The Middle Ages had a more expressive way of doing things, longer attention spans and a depth of perception, since there were less things to do and even fewer advancements to compensate for human error. Hence the greatest classical musicians can be linked to this era. If these observations were to continue, would sound bytes replace symphonies? And does this mean that the next wave of musical geniuses will come from Southern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa? Finally, what conclusions can be drawn about the emerging culture of London as the population continues to rise and diversify and styles and roots constantly merge into each other?
Whatever your style and preference, talk to AMH Pianos about how we can help you get the most out of your piano. Also, the opinions and views of my readers are always highly appreciated. Have a great and wonderful 2015.