HemiHelp Children helping Children Concert

  Cadogan Hall London Saturday  24th February 2007

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I had been taking part in a number of music workshops, organised by the charity HemiHelp which helps children with hemiplegia like myself, try different instruments and play some specially adapted instruments, which took place at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, the workshops were run by members of the Landon Ensemble, a group of experienced workshop leaders and highly talented musicians from the four major London conservatories.

A few weeks later, my Dad had a letter saying I had been selected, as one of only eight children, to perform at the prestigious “Children Helping Children Charity Concert” in London in the presence of HRH Princess Alexandra the charity’s patron; it was a very exciting opportunity.

I thought my Dad was joking when he first told me about it, as he often teases me, so I wasn’t sure at first. When I realised he was serious, I felt butterflies in my tummy, at the thought of performing in front of royalty, and hundreds of people, but my Dad reassured me I would be fine, and it would be an excellent opportunity for me to participate in such a prestigious event, anyway it seemed a long way off at the time, and I thought no more of it until a few months later when rehearsals were scheduled to start in London at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama on Sundays before the event. It didn’t feel very real until we were in my Dad’s car driving up to London for the first rehearsal, then I started to feel a little pensive.

I met the other seven selected performers, some of whom I knew as they were at workshops I had attended, and some were new to me, as they had been selected from other workshops. We were all a little awkward and nervous at first but the adult musicians taking the rehearsals soon put us at our ease.

We did lots of musical warm up exercises, to get into the swing of things, and some breathing exercises too, before the rehearsal which usually made us laugh a bit and broke the ice very rapidly. Then we started actually rehearsing the piece we were going to be performing at the charity concert itself, all through these rehearsals the HemiHelp girls from the their London HQ were made to join in so it was a good bonding exercise all round, they were lovely and very friendly and made us laugh. We all met up again the following Sunday and had another rehearsal, this time we were quite relaxed, and could concentrate on what we were doing.

There were other performers participating in the charity concert, who we never saw until the big day itself, as we were all rehearsing our pieces independently of each other, and in different venues across the country. Our offering was called “The Haunted House” and was great fun to do, most of us had to used several musical instruments during it, my main instrument was the Dolmetsch descant recorder, which I had been playing for about 18 months, and my additional instrument was the boomwahackers, which were nice and easy, and were used to create sound effects during a narrated part of our piece.

We rehearsed in different rooms at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, some were small and cosy, and others were like a mini theatre with a set stage and seating for an audience on a rise, so it gave us a little more of an idea how it would feel to perform in the Cadogan Hall, Sloan Terrace, London, where the fundraising concert was going to be held.
 
It was very intense, and we all worked very hard to get things right, but every so often one of us would either, not play their instrument when we should be, or play it when we shouldn’t, and we would all stop and break out in fits of nervous laughter, this didn’t seem to worry our musical directors who were very patient with us I am not sure if they were worried about how things might turn out if we made a mistake on the big day, but they never showed it outwardly.
 
We had a chat with the HemiHelp concert organiser Alice Doyle, and she told us how well we all were doing, and proud she was of us, we were told to all wear black so we would all look the same on stage, and no one would stand out from the others, we were also told not to be late for our final rehearsal slot, which was booked for 10am on the day of the actual performance, the concert was scheduled to start at 7pm, so it seemed like it was going to be a very along day, but we had to fit in with all the other performers too, who had to rehearse on the Cadogan Hall stage, and up to that point we didn’t even know where the Cadogan Hall was, it was just a name to us and didn’t mean anything special.

We did know that we would be meeting Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra (the Queen’s cousin) during the interval and she would hopefully talk with us, and we also found out the other performers in the concert included the multi platinum selling singer Hayley Westenra, and young musicians from the Purcell and Yehudi Menuhin Schools, and the Royal College of Music Junior Department, so we were in amazing company.

We did lots of musical warm up exercises, to get into the swing of things, and some breathing exercises too, before the rehearsal which usually made us laugh a bit and broke the ice very rapidly. Then we started actually rehearsing the piece we were going to be performing at the charity concert itself, all through these rehearsals the HemiHelp girls from the their London HQ were made to join in so it was a good bonding exercise all round, they were lovely and very friendly and made us laugh. We all met up again the following Sunday and had another rehearsal, this time we were quite relaxed, and could concentrate on what we were doing.

There were other performers participating in the charity concert, who we never saw until the big day itself, as we were all rehearsing our pieces independently of each other, and in different venues across the country. Our offering was called “The Haunted House” and was great fun to do, most of us had to use two musical instruments during it, my main instrument was my Dolmetsch descant recorder,

which I had been playing for about 18 months, and my additional instrument was the boomwahackers, which were nice and easy, and were used to create sound effects during a narrated part of our piece.

Next

 

All About Me
What Katy did
Living with hemiplegia
HemiHelp

BBC Ouch - It's a disability thing
The Children helping Children Concert 2010

Listen to me talking on Mix96 about
the "Children Helping Children Concert" in London

bh Magazine artricle on concert

Me playing my one handed
Dolmetsch Descant Recorder

One of the Music Workshops. Phil Cornwell is in the middle leading the group, assisted by Julie Groves, Michael Grant, and Dan James all members of the Landon Chamber Ensemble.

Phil Cornwell introducing me to the claves

Me playing the Pan Pipes

Sarah & Alice from HemiHelp with Michael of the Landon Chamber Ensemble.

20th Anniversary special
“Children helping Children” concert
Saturday 19th February 2011
Cadogan Hall, Sloan Square, London