live to ROCK

When Small left his previous school (slightly prematurely), my only concern was for his saxophone playing. For he does love to belt out those tunes and playing solo to a backing track at home just isn’t quite the same as being a part of a school jazz ensemble.

And, while I contemplated how to sort this situation, I started to think a bit more about the music schedule so many of our children follow:

D flat major, sight-reading, music theory, aural tests, graded pieces…

And that feeling of playing a solo in school assembly…

None of it felt that great. Or fun. Or exciting.

The facts are that we DO love our children to learn, play and appreciate music. Plus there’s all that evidence to show just how beneficial music is for their sanity, particularly as they hit all those teenage hormones.

While I was on the verge of Facebook posting for a musical solution, I was introduced to Chris and The Band Project.   I immediately called him and tried my hardest not to whine as I described what I felt Small really, truly needed. I’d only got half way through explaining my music mission when I realised Chris and his team deliver EXACTLY this.

band practice with tutor Stu Cooney

To be clear, I’m not about to describe the conventional Royal Academy type of music. It’s more of a smelly, recording studio, grainy type of music experience. Because my boy (along with so many other boys/girls) is finding that a real music escape route does actually exist. In the form of a band.

How rock ‘n’ roll does that sound? Small is in a band and he loves it. In fact, he says it’s a highlight of his week. And do you want to know why? Because he actually makes music and feels a part of something cool and different and fun and… YES this is what I reckon learning to love music is all about. Isn’t it?

The Band Project was something I learnt about from another mum. Her son plays the electric guitar well and I suppose most schools struggle to know how what to do with that sort of talent. But The Band Project doesn’t feel anything like school music. It’s unconventional. The band tutor (not even called teachers) adopt a pretty unique way of talking to and motivating the bunch of music making kids.

‘What sort of music are you into?’ my son was asked the first time he turned up. ‘I mean, what really makes you want to play the sax?’

Chris Mountford – founder of The Band Project

And when I asked if there was any music he should take home to practice, the rather cool dreadlocked musician tried his best not to snigger: ‘We’re just jamming, Mum!’ the tutor responded.

I’m sold. Not on the gig (but I’ll buy all the tickets and rock along to whatever his band belt out) but on the way this Band Project makes these kids feel. And the way they choose to spend their weekend. As we drive away from the NW1 recording studios, I see other kids hanging out at Camden Market and know that this band might not hit the charts nor even record an album but they will absolutely feel great about themselves each Sunday, hum those tunes and might even feel that music is indeed part of their lives.

And all this is just MY point of view, as a parent. Ask him if you want to know how he felt at the band’s first gig yesterday. Ask him why he can’t stop smiling when he talks about it.

More information about The Band Project can be found here




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needles + more

A friend of a friend.  In truth, a stranger.

This man walks into our home, bearing so much more than a box of needles.

‘So how do you experience… joy?’ he asks me intently.

‘Joy?’ I query, wondering if perhaps he has knocked on the wrong door.

{but images of swimming, laughing, painting do spring to mind.}

And intense calm and pure kindness just radiate from this man.  Everyone in the room starts talking a little slower.  We all feel his peace.

We talk some more.  He wants to know how we all feel.  (How lovely of someone to ask.)

And then the needles, PING strategically into our ears corresponding with those crucial organs – lung, kidney, heart.   Plus one in between the eyes for focus and clarity.  Much needed.

My nervous system  S L O W S  down.  Emotional wellbeing is coming my way.  I can feel it.


Andre Zitcer can be reached on 07514 903035 or

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shooting heads

I don’t like rules.

I am asked quite a lot by x, y and z to shoot their headshot. It might be for their website, instagram, presentation etc – it doesn’t really make a difference to me – as I never seem to approach this task in the same way as a ‘real’ photographer.

Because I don’t like rules.

Kayleigh Attwood of 7Dollardress

Focus on the eyes, be careful of the angle, use diffused light, guide expression….

I ignore all of the above.

Gavin Williamson of GTC Studio

So what do I do? Well, the first thing is appreciate just how much I’d hate the lens to be pointed at me. In short, I feel daunted and self-conscious whenever (and I make sure that this happens rarely) I’m in shot. I then talk (has always been my fall-back plan in any situation) to my victim about something they obviously feel confident and excited about. I also focus on something other than the job in hand. It might be a jacket someone close to us is wearing or a new lip gloss I have stowed away in my camera bag.

Emily Evans of Emily Evans Media

Natural light and fresh air are a must. There no doubt that everyone feels more natural and absolutely happier outdoors.

But I also cheat. Because all of those asking for a headshot know me, I know them right back. And, more than this, I – for the most part – actually LIKE them. Plus I might even know things about them that no one else knows. So there’s quite a bit of trust there already.

Natalie Lee of Style Me Sunday

Often I appreciate (and want to be a part of) their business focus. Why they are putting themselves out there, what makes them feel motivated and where they are heading next….

Frederic Kalinke of Amigo

All this needs to be discussed and then encapsulated in the image.

a celebrating Amanda Howe 


Poppy Loves – as part of a campaign with TX Maxx.

I can imagine many a headshot photographer reading this post and looking at my images with a slight roll of the eye and raise of the brow. But that’s ok. I don’t like rules.

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barking mad.

Getting a dog will change your life… I was told.

For those of you who don’t know, put simply, I’m just NOT an obvious dog person. A friend once challenged me: I honestly don’t think you love my dog AND, worse than that, I’m sure you don’t understand why I love her. A bit embarrassed, I laughed – because she was absolutely right. There was nothing in me which could love a dog. Nor another child. Nor another man, for that matter. I’m totally done in with loving and caring and giving. (But that’s another story).

So imagine the reaction when we carefully talked and thought through this plan and decided that yes, we were going to open up our home to a canine dependant.

2 weeks in, I’m slowly getting the picture. While the downstairs of our home now undeniably smells of DOG, and I’m often found freezing outside begging this little mite to wee/poo plus I’ve picked up more done-deeds off my kitchen floor than I’d care to count and I’ve found teeth marks in everything from cushions to children’s arms … I’m feeling this curious, warm, fuzzy feeling. What is this? Is this IT?

Aside from pet insurance, vaccines, food, toys, training pads…. KITCHEN ROLL (I feel perhaps we should have made a tactical financial investment into the most absorbent of brands) … the emotional investment is also significant. Completely determined not to make this a dog-child, I’m resisting any temptation to over-indulge and yet there’s a squeaky toy everywhere I put my foot and at least one housemate hovering to stroke his belly.

Of course it’s still early days and I do occasionally (often at 6am) feel that we’re barking mad, but the moment you see his little furry face, those searching eyes oozing limitless optimism and that unconditional love, right then and there I know we’ve done the right thing.

Ziggy Star Dog

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