Updated 09.04.20

NMA is a vital community, to which our students, teachers and their families all belong. Here we reach out to you, sharing in solidarity - Together as one, even in isolation. Regular Updates with News, Lesson Tips or heartening blogs as we look to support one another.

See below for frequent, (mostly) cheery updates, and now even recipes!! New posts almost daily, where possible! #Darrell & Eileen Priestley

News * Fun * Coping Strategies * Recipes!

New Hobbies or Old?




09.04.20 – Darrell Priestley

As a musican, you have probably said at least once of your practice, ”I didn’t have time!” Well, you’re probably not saying that now. But today let’s think about something else you could be doing with all that time at home.

Do you like to read? I was always a bit of a reading fiend, in fact when growing up I found it very hard to put my book down at bed time, often reading long after my light should be out; to this day I put my not being taller down to a lack of sleep in my teenage growing years! But as the years went by, I started gradually reading less, until at one point I rarely would read anything longer than a newspaper or magazine article. This started to bother me a little, because although I am very focused at work I started to worry that I wasn’t working my mind in other areas. Several years ago I began to read again; to be quite honest I found it hard at first, and could only read a few pages of a book before becoming mentally a little tired. Luckily though, with perserverence, stamina develops and you find that you can keep going, sometimes for hours.

Practice is much the same, for music or indeed any other hobby. If you build up in increments, you will soon be putting in good stints at your activity, be it drawing, writing, lace making, or whatever, learning more and and getting better at it all the time. And this may be a golden opportunity to develop your interests in other areas. Unexpectedly, many of us, (though not all!), have more time on our hands than we are used to. But what to do with it? Apart from reading, I want this year especially to be one of grwoing things. I really love plants and nature, and starting with pots indoors, you can develop an appreciation of growing things by raising plants. There is so much to interest the plant lover, with leaf type, size, growing habits, colours, not to mention simply the feeling that goes with keeping your plants vibrant and healthy, learning what they like in sun, shade, watering and so on.

Sticking with plants, it is fairly easy to start growing plants for food, you can even do it on a window ledge if there is a little space. If starting out, start small with something like cut and come again lettuce, and carrots and tomatoes can both wotk well. One advantage of growing food plants indoors is that it’s much easier to keep on top of the watering, because you will qickly learn to notice straight away if the plants are drying out, as they go limp. With practice, you’ll get the hang of watering enough so that they don’t wilt, whilst avoiding over watering too.

Learning should always be fun, so don’t overlook including board games in the mix too. Board games make you think about strategy, of how to achieve a particular outcome, and that can be good in developing your thinking more generally. We have a lot of different board games at our house, one of our current favourites being ‘Agricola’, which is interesting because while I often win, I still have no real understanding of how it works, and have to ask my son what to do constantly! Curious.

If you are lucky enough to live with others, one of the best ways to use some some of that extra time you might have is simply to learn more about the other members of your household. Find out what they like, and ask them what hobbys they have been interested in over the years. I was almost grown up when, one day, I learned that as a boy my father had made paper aeroplanes. But not just any paper aeroplanes. His aeroplanes were things of wonder, they looked sleeker than anything I had ever made, and flew magnificently. Many decades later, that’s still one of the wonderful things I remember my father for; that, and his terrific, tuneful whistle.

Rock (Cake) Music




08.04.20 – Eileen Priestley

Are you finding while we are in the lock down that you are taking more time over meals? I mean, what’s the hurry, we aren’t going anywhere for once and it doesn’t really matter what time the meal is!

I’ve started baking again. I haven’t done this for ages. I never seemed to have time, and when I tried to bake I found myself looking at the clock all the time. I started to dislike baking because it started to invade my time.

I did home economic class, ( it was always called ‘cooking class’), for one year at high school. I loved my teacher, but was never very good at cooking. I remember on the very first lesson the teacher saying.’When you get home your Mother will probably tell you that I’m doing everything wrong, and I’m going to say to you, everyone has their own way of doing things and this is my way”. Right from that moment I really liked my teacher, Mrs White, because I knew my Mum would say exactly that when I got home and she saw the recipe I had written down. Forty seven years later and I still have and still use that same cookery book. Each recipe getting harder the further on you go.

For Christmas 2019, I wanted to give my two adult children a special gift. I came up with the idea that I would copy out my old school recipe book, one copy for each of them. But I wanted to do a little bit more than just copy out my old school cookery book. So I started adding their Grandma’s baking recipes, close family members and close friends started adding their favourite recipes. The two books started to become very special and the look on the faces of my two grown up children said it all. I knew those two books would always be treasured.

I thought some of our younger students might like to try one of the easy recipes. So here it is:- (No apology for ‘proper’ imperial measurements!)

Rock Cakes



  1. Heat oven Gas No. 6, Electric 400 (These are old settings, I would put my oven on 175). Grease a flat tin.
  2. Sieve flour salt and spices, if used, into a mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar.
  3. Add margarine, chop into small pieces and rub in.
  4. Stir in the currants.
  5. Add beaten egg and milk. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Pile in nine rough heaps on a greased baking tin.
  7. Bake in a hot oven for about twenty minutes until golden brown and firm.


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