Mr Holland’s Opus

I was reminded of this movie when someone quoted a line from John Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy” which is performed by Mr Holland and dedicated to his deaf son. It a touching moment in a movie full of them. When I think about it, this movie has a similar hold over me as M*A*S*H does – through the course of this movie, you get involved in Mr Holland’s life. From his first day at work, his attempts to get a football player to play drums, his temptation by a student, and finally his retirement. All through this you get to feel his emotions as he feels them. His anger, his hope, his despair. Plus, it always helps that it’s a film about music – and I love films about music.

Anyway, I’m going to leave you with a couple of clips of my favourite parts. Firstly, the performance of “Beautiful Boy” and secondly his farewell assembly, including the first performance of his symphony.


The first (and worst) album

The first album I ever bought was one I remember because it is one that I regret so badly. I hear all these stories of people who bought these classic albums as their first, and they have great pleasure in remembering how it affected their lives.
My album is far more embarrassing – being Hansen’s first album. it got turned into an art project soon after.
I’m hoping that there are some readers who have similarly bad first albums. Please feel free to share on the comments.

Favourite Class at College

Just a quick one as it’s late, and I need to be up early tomorrow.

My favourite class in college (well, University), would probably have been String Class. This was where we would play for the other string players at uni, and get specific feedback relating to string playing.

I remember my first performance, and I hated it. I felt like I didn’t deserve to be there. It probably didn’t help that string class was joined with the other Music Uni, because “there weren’t enough string players for their own class” (despite there being more string players than brass players, and brass players had their own seperate class). While they may not agree, we certainly felt like second class citizens, as if we were the string players who weren’t good enough to get into their school.

Anyway, eventually, WAAPA granted us our own string class. And it was awesome. It really helped bring the strings together, and start supporting each other. And while there were many things that I would say helped along the way, I would say that giving us our own string class really helped kick start the redevelopment of the strings program at WAAPA.

So that was my favourite uni class. What was yours?


Jesus Is Just Alright
Image via Wikipedia

I wasn’t allowed to go home yesterday afternoon. My wife was having a girls only party, and I was strictly told that I was not allowed to go home after church. So I organised with a few mates to get together and have a jam. It was awesome, a whole heap of fun. We jammed over some riffs that we knew, then had a go at a couple of songs which ended up sounding pretty good. I had a chance to pull out some of my heavier guitar tones that I don’t often use in church situations, Dave had a chance to really play his new bass (which he discovered was even more awesome than he originally thought, finding a beautiful dirty side to the slightly bluesy sound he thought he had found), Paul got a chance to play a whole heap of stuff and Isaac got to hit some drums really loudly. It was awesome fun.

One of the songs we had fun doing was “Jesus is Just Alright” by the Doobie Brothers. I think this is one that I might see if we can pull up for the youth band sometime. Would be a whole heap of fun.

Have a listen to that, that will make your Monday go much better. What would your favourite song to jam on be?

Sunday Set List – Feb 27, 2011

Had our youth meeting on Sunday. This was the first Youth Meeting since taking over leadership of the band. Haven’t had much time to work the band as I’d like to, but I’m hoping over the course of this year, I can start to implement some good changes into the youth band. The first service was based upon Micah 6:8: “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Started with Blessed be your name. A song that we know well, and has an awesome message: “Every blessing you pour out I’ll turn back to praise.”

Then One Way – a song that we love to pump out, but haven’t done for a while. I love this because I can get away with some grungier effects on my guitar.

Then this beautiful song by Nathan Rowe from the Australian Southern Territory – Let Justice Roll. Very powerful lyrics here

I’ve fallen in love with Chris Tomlin’s Amazing Grace (My Chains are gone) – start with a powerful song, add a powerful chorus, and it’s brilliant.

We love The Stand, and perform it often. I’ve heard it go into a Hallelujah before, but it’s not quite the right setting for that, so we just do the Stand.

And then we finished off with One Way again.

All up, it was a great service. I’m looking forward to our next service in March, and looking forward to start challenging the band musically with slightly more difficult songs, and get us really working together as a band, while still preserving the fun, passion and energy that we have when we praise the Lord.

This post was part of the Sunday Set List posed by The Worship

Music that makes me happy

Aaron Barrett of Reel Big Fish playing at Wayn...
Image via Wikipedia

Inspiration today from the Daily Post topic, which is When you’re feeling down, what music makes you happy?

There’s a whole heap of music that makes me happy, and I’m going to share some of my favourites with you and explain why.

First up is a bit of an odd choice, as I wouldn’t normally listen to this band. However, Fleetwood Mac‘s Tusk always gets me bopping. I think it’s a mix of the jungle-esque drum beat and the “UCLA Sucks” Guitar riff. I think it’s hard to feel down when listening to this.

Next up is a style of music that will get be happy all the time. Ska music is so happy and boppy, I love it and it gets me happy all the time. I’ve got two favourite bands, Reel Big Fish and Sounds Like Chicken. I’ve chosen Reel Big Fish’s cover of Take on Me, and Sounds like Chicken’s Take one down

However, if I’m in the mood for a classical pick me up, it’s got to be the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto.

What gets you up when you’re feeling down?

Postaday2011 links


What makes a worship song great?

Amazing Grace, First version, in "Olney H...
Image via Wikipedia

I’ve recently been asked to lead the Youth Band at my church, and it’s got me thinking about songs. There are some songs that we sing in worship that absolutely touch the soul, while there are others that are neither here nor there.

For example, take a look at Amazing Grace. What an amazing song, a powerful testimony for everyone. Yet its composition is incredibly simple.

Where as the song “Yours Forever” by Hillsong is a rocking song musically – but do the lyrics move you?

As I choose songs for the Youth Band to learn, I’ll hopefully be able to choose a mixture of songs that are moving in both music and lyrics.

What is your favourite worship song, and why?

Postaday2011 links

Looking ahead in web design

On Tuesday, while I was waiting for some printing at work, I got the chance to read this article on The Future of WordPress Themes in 2011. It contained thoughts and musings from many top WordPress theme designers, programmers and general nice guys (eg Matt Mullenweg). It really sparked some thoughts as to how I can improve web design at work, but also look to create some themes to submit to the theme repository. One of the disadvantages of being hosted on is that you’re limited to the themes that they have available. There’s some really nice themes there, don’t get me wrong (I’m mostly happy with my current theme), but there are a number of incredible WordPress themes available, and I’d like to put my hand up and contribute.

It made me think – how often do we spend the time to think about the up coming year in our field? For example, in Music, do we spend the time to look ahead to see what sort of music we’ll be playing this year? When I look at this list of Theme trends, I can look there to see what sort of things I should be looking to carry out to be at the forefront of my field. What sort of music should you be learning, what sort of techniques, what type of gigs should you be doing to be at the forefront of your field this year?

Pachelbel Canon in D for Solo Violin

I hadn’t realised that I had forgotten to upload this to my site. This is an arrangement I had made of Pachelbel’s Canon in D, arranged for Solo Violin. It is much adapted and abridged, and makes use of double stops to make the illusion of multiple voices in some parts, while reverting to single lines where necessary. Uses only the “interesting” parts.

This arrangement is © 2006 Ben Clapton, however I do give permission for this piece to be performed anywhere in the world, for whatever purpose (busking, weddings etc) on the sole condition that I be notified by e-mail to or as a comment to this post as to the location (City, Country) that it will be performed in. Comments about the arrangement are always welcome, but please – constructive criticism or praise only.

This arrangement has been performed in places such as the US, UK, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia.

Download Ben Clapton’s arrangement of Pachelbel’s Canon in D for solo violin.Download Pachelbel’s Canon for Solo Violin

The map below shows the locations that this piece has been performed.

The Lazy Musician

A little while ago, I wrote a few posts based on posts at Leo Babauta’s website, Zen Habits. His posts on simplicity and getting things done are often more directed to office workers (so it seems) and with good purpose – there’s quite a lot of them out there. Every now and then, I find a post that speaks to me, that says “Hey, musicians could really take something from this.” And when I find such a post, I tend to write about it, as I am doing now. Leo’s post “The Lazy Manifesto: Do Less. Then, Do Even Less.” has got me interested. Perhaps because I’m lazy.

Continue reading “The Lazy Musician”