I passed Yamaha Grade 5 + Fundamentals!

Yamaha grade 5!Hello internet!

It took me 15 years, but I finally passed Yamaha Grade 5 and Fundamentals!

Why did it take so long? I guess life and other commitments got in the way. When I first began preparing, as a wee 15 year old, I got distracted by my AMEB Associate exam on Electronic Organ. I ended up sitting the AMusA exam and neglecting the Yamaha exam. Last year I moved to Melbourne where I began working for a Yamaha owned Yamaha school. Teachers were encouraged to sit grade exams, and so I signed up.

In Australia, Yamaha grade exams are not well known outside Yamaha music schools. Many Australian piano students will experience AMEB exams. The two exam systems are quite different from each other. The strength of the Yamaha grade exam system lies is the equal importance placed on a range of musical skills, including improvisation, sight singing, accompaniment and transposition. This is reflective of the Yamaha approach to music education.

I am really pleased I passed. I had to work hard on improvisation. My least favourite was transposition. The things that came easiest were sight reading, theory and aural. My sight singing had improved over the years through my teaching experience. When I first began preparing as a teenager, I found sight singing really difficult, but these days it’s a skill I use all the time as a teacher.

Feeling a sense of achievement,

xx Michelle


The Forest

the forestThis picture is far from perfect, but I’m very pleased with it because it represents a giant leap in my post-processing abilities. The original image came from a self-portrait experiment I posted about here, check out the link to compare this image with the original edit.


Coconut Oil for Skin and Hair

I love buying beauty products. It’s purely psychological though. When I buy beauty products I feel like I’m spoiling myself, even though the logical side of my brain knows that I don’t need to spend money in order to spoil myself. Well, here’s a way to spoil yourself without spending lots of bucks. Coconut oil saves the day again!

As we know, coconut oil is great for a myriad of applications, including as a moisturising foot treatment. You can also use it as a moisturiser on other parts of your body and your hair. It’s especially suitable for dry skin. Here’s how.

Facial Moisturiser

  • After cleansing, gently massage into face, avoiding eyes. I use a separate eye cream.
  • Only do this in the evening before bed. It takes a while to sink in, so skin will feel a little greasy for a while.
  • I use it on my face a couple of nights a week, not every night. It helps with the dryness I experience as a result of taking Roaccutane.

On Hands

  • Massage into hands, paying attention to cuticles.
  • I wash my hands a bazillion times a day, because I work in schools with germy, bacteria-ridden children, so my hands are dry.
  • Preferable to use at night before bed, once again because it can leave your hands a bit greasy.

On Hair

  • After washing, while hair is still damp, melt a little coconut oil in your hands and apply through the lengths of hair.
  • Use just a little bit of coconut oil. It doesn’t take much for hair to look oily! Use less than you think.
  • When your hair dries, it will be softer and less frizzy.

There are countless others ways to use coconut oil for beauty. How do you use it?


New Toy! Photojojo Macro Phone Lens

Close up
Close up
Close upThis little lens was cheap enough that purchasing it was a “why not?” decision. It’s includes a wide angle attachment which screws onto the macro lens. It comes with little metal rings that stick onto the back of your phone. I also stuck one around the camera of my iMac, so that I can Skype in wide angle.

The photos above are all taken with the macro lens. My favourite is the blade of grass with tiny raindrops. The middle left picture is my hair. Yep, it’s thick!


Rainbow Gelato

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Well, hello humans. Here is some music that I made, and here are some thoughts about it, in easy to read dot points, because I’m tired.

  • It’s called Rainbow Gelato because it’s all cute pop happy times. “Gelato” is a nod to Melbourne speak (my adopted city); in Adelaide we say “gelati”
  • My favourite bit starts from 2:21
  • I’ve been working on this in dribs and drabs for almost a year
  • My hectic 2014 schedule meant that it spent most of the last 9 months neglected on my hard drive
  • I’m not happy with the cello and violin lines because the string timbres aren’t gelling with the electronic tones well
  • However, I’m pretty happy with the bass line and some of the beats
  • I need to improve/get more experience in creating timbres I like
  • I’ve decided to release it into the world anyway. I’m gonna move on and begin something new

Did you know that the flavour of rainbow ice cream is caramel?

Kew Cemetery

Several months ago, I drove past a long red brick wall, and caught glimpses of many old headstones on the other side. Even in that brief moment I could tell that the cemetery was something special, and I made up my mind to explore the space within the red walls.

Last week I went, with my camera in tow. But I wasn’t far within the walls before paranoia gripped me – maybe I shouldn’t be here? I exited quickly, but on my way out I saw a man walking along the cemetery path, with the relaxed air of one going on a late afternoon stroll. Then I felt silly. Surely public cemeteries should be enjoyed by the public?

Yesterday, my second chance came, quite unplanned. After finishing my first day at a new placement school, I got dropped off at a house that happened to be just across the road from Kew Cemetery. Walking along the footpath, I found a side gate in the red brick. I slipped inside. Kew Cemetery
Kew Cemetery
There were many beautiful memorials. The most recent that I could see date to the 1990s. My favourites were the very old and ornate sculptures and headstones. As I strolled along, I wondered at the dedication of the living, to erect works of art in memory of the dead. Surely such beautiful odes to memory should be appreciated and enjoyed.Kew CemeteryKew CemeteryThe last two photos are of a mysterious Victorian era memorial set on a hill not far from the main entrance. The name of the deceased is not inscribed anywhere. I did a quick internet search later, at home. It’s called the Springthorpe Memorial, and was built by John Springthorpe in honour of his beautiful young wife Annie, who died at the age of 30 giving birth to their fourth child. I’m not usually one for romance, but the tragic romance of this lovely memorial definitely had an impact.

All photos were taken and edited on iPhone using Afterglow.

On my own

On my ownThis is an image of Kyle I’ve had kicking around on my hard drive since our levitation shoot last year. At the time, it wasn’t one of my faves, but I came across it while I was poking around the other night, and something about it captured my imagination.

Aside from Kyle, the star of this image is Layer Masks. I discovered the wonderful world of Photoshop layer masks not long ago, and this one new skill, combined with a recent gravitation towards a darker, moodier aesthetic, resulted in the image above.

Hope you’re keeping warm, wherever in the world you are. It’s freezing cold where I am.

xx Michelle



Foliage-2I played tourist in my adopted town this weekend by visiting the Melbourne Botanical Gardens. It was a clear but overcast day, and the Gardens were overrun with picnickers. I took the opportunity to bring along my recently much neglected camera. It was relaxing to wander around taking snaps of greenery. Taking photos like these reminds me of the kind of photos I took when I first got my DSLR – simple, artless pictures that nevertheless gave me a lot of pleasure to create.
Foliage-1Foliage-3Foliage-5Foliage-4Foliage-6Foliage-7Foliage-11Foliage-9Foliage-13Foliage-12Foliage-8I spotted a wild PK amongst the bamboo grove!



Rise & Shine

Rise & Shine

So I realise the last three posts including this one have been all type related. Guess I’m sorry I’m not sorry! Fuelling my recent lettering obsession is the acquisition of some graph paper and a university assignment I’ve been procrastinating on. It’s due tomorrow night, so I’m gonna go to bed now in order to rise and shine with the early morn to crank this essay out.

But seriously though. Graph paper is the best.

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