Yes, it’s that time of year again and we’ve had to polish up the Christmas songs. We’ve concentrated this year on just three: Carol of the Bells, (really bell-like when performed well), A Holly Jolly Christmas, (indeed very jolly with some effective harmonies) and Merrily Sing We Noel (fast-paced and also a little bell-like).
It’s a dilemma. Rehearsing Christmas songs takes as much time as rehearsing any other and we have to look after the rest of our repertoire, too. Yet people want us to sing Christmassy pieces at this time of year. Fortunately some people have been members for many years and so these do come back quite quickly. Also, we have several other “feel good” songs under our belt, such as Wonderful World, Love is the Sweetest Thing and The Way We Were. They go nicely beside the Christmas songs.
We’re also being taught to sight-read. One or two pieces have been brought in quite quickly this month – Goodnight My Someone and From a Distance. Jeff has got us to learn these by reading the music rather than hearing the parts played first. We’re all growing that particular skill and it will make learning new pieces quicker. He’s definitely raising the bar.
Jeff Borradaile, as our musical director, has the knack of stretching us just enough. This is what a good teacher does: knows his students well and challenges them, knowing also exactly how much support to give on the way. And with jam rather than vinegar – most of the time. A spot of vinegar is needed now and then. Good teachers know when.
So, now we’re being stretched to have brighter faces, clearer vowel sounds and better presentation.
“Tell the story. Don’t forget to tell the story,” says Jeff.
And we’re also learning more complex pieces more quickly.
New members are still welcome – particularly basses and male tenors – come on gentlemen. . We don’t audition. But there is an expectation that all members will quite quickly get up to and keep up to speed. We all need to put some time in, between rehearsals.
Here, There and Everywhere, The Long Winding Road and Goodnight My Someone are ready to go out now. They along with those mentioned above and an old favourite, Deep River will probably be aired several times over the Christmas period. No doubt some other old favourites too.
We’re not really rehearsing in December. But we are busking and busking is almost rehearsal and performance rolled into one. You can see and hear us at public performances:
- 10 December in the foyer of The Lowry from 6.30
- 17 December in front of Sainsbury’s, Ordsall from 7.00.