Saturday, 28 July 2012

A New direction ?

Well something quite remarkable has happened to me over the past week. I was in Leith Cash exchange where I saw a keyboard with stand for only £30. I snapped this up immediately and dug out some of my old piano tutorial books which I had previously bought when I started my OU music course over ten years ago but never really took it seriously. The main series I'm using  are  Fanny Waterman's Books,

and I've just started lesson 3 of book 1. I would hope to do one lesson a week if not more and then practice the admittedly limited repertoire before going on to better things. The temptation is to rush these things so I have to curb my impatience to say the least.

I've been getting up in the mornings and doing up to 1/2 an hours practice before going to work,  and then about an hour in two sessions when I get home from work.  Out of interest I also bought the Grade 1 piano pieces and scales and am slowly beginning to get to grips with the scale of C major and the broken chords, which I find harder to do than the scales, especially going upwards. It certainly helps I think to have a good grasp of the theory of music for example in broken chords it helps to realise that one is playing the root, the first inversion and the second inversion of the chords  I'm not sure what the difference between a broken chord and an Arpeggio is

If I continue I will try and invest in a proper digital piano something like a Broadway

which you can get for about £500 before investing in something like a Yamaha Clavinova

But the Broadway is definitely going to be my Christmas Present

 In the new year  I will get some lessons with the aim of doing at least grade 1 by the middle of next year and then take it from there. Ideally up to grade 8 in 4-5 years time. An average of six months per grade with more time once one gets past grade 5. We'll see.

Needless to say if this direction continues, I would have to curtail my mathematical and philosophical interests apart from general reading and getting back to my physics calculations, which have been neglected due to the OU maths courses getting in the way.  Piano lessons are not cheap £25 a time and at an average of 1 a week that would come to £1250 a year. As my budget for education is £2000 a year one can see that would only leave room for 1 60 point OU course /per year but as the composition course also costs about £1000 a year then things would be quite expensive.  I will continue to do the other two maths OU courses along with the OU music course I've booked for, but I can see the piano/keyboard and compostion taking up a large element of my time over the next 4-5 years and after June of next year I can see me not doing any OU courses for a while. Also one is talking about 20 hours per week on composition and piano practice, so it wouldn't leave much time for other things anyway.

Incidentally the new grade 1 syllabuses for 2013 - 2014 contain a really interesting piece for a beginner. A fugue in A minor by Alec Rowley who produced a set of 5 minature preludes and fugues for beginners I hope to get reasonably competent in these pieces by Christmas

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Current Plans

Well despite the debacle of the third TMA for MS324 I'm pressing ahead with my plans. I decided to register for the new OU music course in preparation for my serious attempt at composition via the Open college of Arts which I hope to start in June/July 2013 (depending on Funds)

As far as maths is concerned I'll be doing M381 (Number theory and logic) and MST326 (Fluids and mathematical methods). That will then finish the maths at undergraduate level in preparation for the MSc. I will complete my second open degree in October 2013 by doing the OU third level philosophy course AA308 in its last incarnation. That will set me up for an MA in philosophy by distance learning via St Davids University

Ok so the focus is Continental Philosophy and not analytic philosophy but I'm not aiming to become an academic philosopher and I feel that analytic philosophy suffers to some extent from 'Science Envy' in that it is trying to do science or mathematics without actually engaging with the subject. If I want to learn about maths or science I'll do maths and science and not philosophise about it. I'm tempted to paraphrase Bernard Shaw and say that those who can do maths and science do it those who cant philosophise about it. Yes it's important to understand why some of the problems associated with the interpretation of quantum mechanics cant be resolved, but having done that why would anyone think they have a magic key which is going to solve all the problems that other people have missed,

On the other hand Continental philosophy engages with real issues. Whilst not many people have heard of Michael Dummett, or Quine, plenty have heard of Marx, Nietszche, Schopenhauer, Sartre Foucault etc.

Also to some extent one has to make use of the opportunities available. Were I to go down the route of doing say the London external BA there would be no follow up available whereas St Davids university offers at least an MA pathway by distance learning and the opportunities to go onto a PhD.

Were London University to abandon their snobbish attitude to distance learning at Postgraduate level and open up their MA to distance learners then I might be tempted. However as that is not possible at present I'll stick with St David's.
So next year is about finishing my undergraduate maths courses, doing the new OU music course in preparation for embarking on serious composition. The years after will hopefully see me complete my compostion training, my MA in European philosophy and most if not all of the MSc in maths. Hopefully all this can be achieved in 5 years time when I'll be 60.

MS324 TMA03

First sorry for not blogging for a month or so been a bit bogged down with MS324 block 2 which is actually quite interesting but unfortunately the TMA does not reflect this.

The main topics are a basic overview of probability, and random walks in sections 1 and 2, An account of the diffusion equation as applied to heat problems and the most interesting part which is not assessed namely the link between microscopic diffusion, random walks and macroscopic diffusion.

The TMA is as they say in the books straightforward but tedious

Question 1 is  a problem based on successive tyre failures of a cyclist where the probability distribution is an exponential one. To solve the question one has to use integration by parts a couple of times

Question 2 is a problem calculating the statistics associated with a random process defined by a recurrence relation

Question 3 concerns heat conduction in a Nuclear core, the diffusion equation reduces to a 1 dimensional form and is relatively easy to solve. Still must confess I couldn't see how to do the last part

Question 4 is a question concerning temperature waves in the earths surface again quite a straightforward question.

Overall then the TMA is quite straightforward but as there are a number of numerical calculations rather tedious. There does seem to be a disconnect between the TMA questions and the course content.
However as I was struggling to motivate myself I decided to cut my losses with only about 3/4 of the TMA done. I provided more or less complete answers to questions 1 and 4 just did the first two parts of question 2 and all but the last part of question three. A bit pathetic I realise but sometimes it's just better to move on.

It would have been more interesting had they asked us to solve the diffusion equation in three dimensions for say a cube or sphere say with the top half heated at one temperature and the other one at a different temperature. For a sphere this would involve setting up the equation in Spherical coordinates separating the variables and solving the resulting differential equations by series resulting in Spherical Harmonics and Legendre polynomials all stuff which should form the core of a third level mathematics course in mathematical methods but is hardly mentioned in this course.

Still as it hasn't then I'll just have to rely on the example sheets from Cambridge to fill the gaps.

Hopefully Block 3 on the calculus of variations and Lagranges equations will be a bit more exciting