Friday, 10 April 2020

Specs speaks!

Before it becomes a distant memory - and while, I suspect, many people may have a little more time than usual to tune in... I wanted to post a thank you, with a warm recommendation on the side, to the Thoroughly Good blog.

The mind behind Thoroughly Good is Jon Jacob, a highly-skilled and brilliantly incisive writer, trainer and development coach, specialising in the arts / classical music sector. So I 'met' him first - recommended by a mutual friend, Fran Wilson (aka the Cross-Eyed Pianist) - through his writing, on the TG blog.

I found Jon's approach a real eye-opener, because I immediately felt a sense of urgency in his prose - not a vibe you'd necessarily associate with arts content, particularly classical music. Without actually sounding like anyone else at an individual level, it reminded me almost of the finest film and - perhaps even more surprisingly - sports journalism that I'd read. A way of talking about music that insists it is as vital, present and important as anything else; more so. And add to that a talent to weave in his own thoughts and experiences (without slowing the pace or falling into a 'writing about writing' cliche trap), which, as we know, inform a performance as much as what's going on onstage. Take a read of this fantastic recent post about Jonathan Biss, as an example.


Having got to know Jon a little, mostly virtually but once 'IRL', I was thrilled when he asked me to take part in the Thoroughly Good podcast, in a subset of 'Emergency' episodes that he was creating to find out what his guests were listening to as succour during this time of lockdown or isolation. I was a bit nervous, having only taken part in a couple of rock music podcasts some time ago, but Jon put me at my ease instantly and - no wonder he is such a great coach - made me feel like I was having the most relaxed conversation imaginable with someone who knew and understood me really well.

I've listened back to the episode and I couldn't be happier with it. God knows that isn't because it's a 'performance', or some kind of exam I passed. This is true for everyone listening back to their own voice, I'm sure - but I can hear all my vocal tics, or moments where my mouth is going faster than my brain - it's clear I'm more of a written, rather than spoken, word person. But I think what does come through is that you can hear my enthusiasm, how delighted I am to be there: and if there is anything that ties together all my writing and communicating about music and the arts, that's it.

Here are a few handy links.

The world of Thoroughly Good:

  • To go straight to the podcast, I'm on (thank you, darlings, thank you) - go here.
  • Take note, however, that there are over 80 other episodes to lose yourself in - here's the browsing page for those.
  • Finally, the overall homepage with links to all of Jon's activities and services is here.

The artists I mention:

  • The Wigmore Hall live album of Schubert songs (first in a series of 4!) by Ian Bostridge and Julius Drake is now a download only from the WH site.
  • Kate Arnold's 'Rosa Fortuna I' EP is available from her Bandcamp page...
  • And likewise for Jo Quail's 'Exsolve'.
  • 'The Contrast' by Carolyn Sampson & Joseph Middleton can be bought directly from BIS, or other online CD stores.

Finally, if you are in a position to buy some music, please consider a browse on my other blog, Support Action, which features links to purchase recordings from artists affected by cancellations during this summer - I'm trying to add to this as and when I can, so if you are a musician (or a fan), please feel free to send suggestions for inclusion. Thank you!

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