Monday 30 September 2013

Getting the sound right out in front: a month of rehearsals September 2013

We’re getting back into the swing of things after the summer break. We’ve already performed at two gigs this month, we’ve a few more coming up and we’re getting ready for the North Wales Competition early November. That means some hard work at rehearsals. But we don’t mind that.  It’s good to know we are continuously building on what we know, improving old skills and learning new ones.
Jeff continues to emphasize getting good vowel sounds. We’ve practised not moving our chins, not changing the shape of our mouths and doing all of the work with our tongue and palette. We’ve been shown how to project the sound forward instead of it staying in our nose and throat. That, of course is also helped if we breathe correctly. However, we must not, no we must not indeed, breathe in the wrong places or take great gasping breaths at the beginning of a phrase. Good, controlled breathing is highly desirable.
We’re working quite quickly on a new song, Ave Verum. This can be quite dramatic and also quite solemn. It’s actually harder to get that drama into it before we’ve learned it.  We have to learn it quickly because we are going to perform it at the North Wales competition. We need to present one song in another language and this of course is in Latin.
“It’s easy to learn,” says Jeff. “Apart from the tenor part.”
Ah. In fact in many places there are parts for tenor 1s – sung by the ladies - and tenor 2s – presented by the men.
We continue as well perfecting Here, There and Everywhere, polishing Let’s Do It and keeping the rest of our repertoire in good condition. And we remember not to look at the floor, but to tell the story and to keep our eyes bright. Hard work, this singing. But we enjoy it and we’re convinced it’s good for us.                             

Singing for Salix Homes

We were privileged to be asked to sing at the Salix Homes Award Ceremony held at the Imperial War Museum on 27 September 2013. The Awards are for people who make a real difference to the area in which they live, always put others first or who have shown exceptional bravery.
We were the act that greeted everyone as they arrived.
The Imperial War Museum is not the easiest place to sing in. The sound disappears and it’s difficult to hear anyone but yourself and the person right next to you. We were very much the background music, too, and couldn’t do anything like what the speakers that fill that large space normally achieve.
And yet. Everyone who passed by was appreciative. Our good friend Alan Clague, the Ceremonial Mayor of Salford, tarried a good while to listen and was photographed with us. We performed one that he likes as much as we do: Deep River.
Yes, it was certainly a challenge, but this is where effort at rehearsals and the good warm-up sessions pay off.  We know what to do and we get on with it. We worked hard to support each other and it paid off.
Other songs performed included: The Way We Were, Let’s Do it, Kiss the Girl, Love is th4e Sweetest Thing and The Long and Winding Road.   
From what we could tell, the evening for Salix Homes got off to a good start.  

Sunday 15 September 2013

In the bath again

Yes, we were invited again to sing at the Victoria Baths, Manchester. This lovely building is being brought back to life and this time there was actually water in one of the pools. It felt a little chilly there: we have been spoilt by the recent fine summer. And as only one of the pools was filled we were again able to sing in the bath. There were a lot of people there, perhaps enticed to something indoors as the weather outside was so cold. And we soon warmed up because singing always helps there as well.  
We had ample time to rehearse today in the room in the basement, which the people at the Victoria Baths made available for us. We had a good long warm-up session and even though we were here to perform we still learnt something new. We must sing from the front of our faces, not in our throats.
We visited some old favourites: Deep River, I Think it’s Going to Rain Today, Imagine, Soul Wind, Wonderful World, Memories, Kiss the Girl, Blue Sky, and newer but now firmed up The Long and Winding Road and Longer. One we’ve known for a while, but still find tricky - Let’s Do It – was fun to do today. Once it becomes fun you know you’re winning.
Did I imagine it or was our actual performance better this time? Did we tell the story? Did we look the part? I was aware of us pulling together even more than normal.
The audience was great and no doubt that helped. They clapped really loudly. It’s nice to be appreciated when you’re actually enjoying yourself.  
We did of course again sample the excellent cake in the friendly tea room. Once more the pretty windows let in a charming light even though it was such a dull day.
Thank you Victoria Baths, for having us