Week 2 of 11, May 8, 2024

Week 2 of 11, May 8, 2024

Hey guys, good work tonight…. -Good progress, good sounds & good fun!

Here’s a summary:

We started with name stickers, which I would like to continue to the end of my stewardship (or whenever I run out of stickers… 😉 This partly because it’s nice to be able to address you by name when you come & chat to me. Also, many of you have quietly mentioned that it’s a relief to rediscover the names of people that you have been trying to recall for so long that it would now be awkward to ask! (All choirs suffer from this, -I promise!)

In warm-ups, first the ‘ghostie noises’ again to help with developing the ‘chest voice’ or low resonance or whatever you want to call it, & also good practise for breath control/long phrases.

Then a probably-slightly-annoyingly-involved workshop on vowel production, which we will repeat every week (in a condensed form) until at least the half term break. A quick recap:

Tongue Vowel Cycle

ah – é – ee – é – ah

N.B. The mouth/face should move very little if at all for this cycle (while not being tense or ‘locked’ of course). The ‘startled rubber duck’ is as good a reference point as any.

(Bright eyes & generous lips, but no botox, please!)

Leave all the work to the tongue to keep the transition between these vowels sweet & smooth

Lip Vowel Cycle

ah – oh – oo – oh – ah

N.B. The inside of the mouth should move very little if at all for this cycle (while not being tense or ‘locked’ of course). Tongue down, & forward, always. A cavernous vault, & as for ALL vowels the bright eyes opening upper sinuses et al. -Almost like stretching the inside of your whole head!

The only thing that changes the vowels is the aperture of the lips!

Ah – startled rubber duck

Oh – pencil sized lip hole

Oo – whistle sized lip hole

And ALWAYS, the lips closing over the big open space maintained within!

Particular challenge to English speakers!

We have no ‘é’ vowel in the English language, only ‘ay’, which is in fact a compound vowel, pronounced “ay-ee”, (if you slow it down). When singing in other languages it is essential to try & master singing ‘é’ without automatically flitting to an ‘ee’, as we close the note, which is a natural reflex for us all.

Phew… That’s a lot of info, but don’t worry, you are not expected to have assimilated it all!

I only put it in writing coz some people really like to learn like that.

For others, -if it just makes your brain go wibbly, don’t worry, we will repeat it all next week.

Tsmidao Gmerto

We put the above-mentioned vowel work into practise on this tune to great effect.

Only when all voices are making clean vowels can you truly tune up all the way.

I thought that you really achieved this tonight.

Next week, I think we will once again work on this tune directly after the vowel exercises.

Perhaps even getting all the way through?

Traveller’s Prayer

Despite only having very limited time on this, we consolidated all the work that we did on it last week to dramatic effect. You were keen that we should push forward on it next week so let’s do it!

Next week we will push as far as we can in to the ‘duet section’ between letter ‘B’ & ‘C’.

For those using lyric sheets, that is between, “if well you should find us” & “keep us from all harm”.

As I said in rehearsal, to keep basses & tenors occupied I suggest that tenors sing the soprano part (an octave down, obvs) & basses the alto part, (or whatever you fancy, it’s all good!)

I doubt that we will get all of that section done, but we can make a good start. -Sowing seeds, etc…

The tunes will we recap next week are:

>You don’t know what love is

>One day like this

>Hallelujah (I have no manuscript for this, so I’m guessing, you all just singalong the piano?)

-Do let me know someone please, if you can… -If not, no worries, we’ll wing it!

I also propose to keep the farewell shanty in the end section for next week, as I thought it worked splendidly tonight. (I would love a few individuals to volunteer to have a go at the opening line as a solo…… -to discuss!)

Overview for the remaining 9 rehearsals

Thanks to the many of you who said that this rehearsal assuaged their qualms after last week’s dramatic debut! All your feedback really helped me understand what you are used to & Jeremy’s teaching method, & do keep the advice coming by all means!

Next week, we will continue the good work, as detailed above, much as we did tonight.

However! The final week before taking a break (May 22), I propose to introduce 2 new tunes!

Both, “Motherless Child”, & either “Greensleeves” or “The Long Day Closes”

(Haven’t quite decided on the last one yet…. 😉

This will mean a probably rather intense rehearsal, a little like last week, with many seeds sown, but perhaps only a little germination, but I would ask you to trust me on the process.

I humbly suggest that pushing forward hard occasionally (following by patiently checking that everyone is still included) is that best use of my limited time with you.

The best ‘welcome home’ gift to give Jeremy is a good selection of songs that are well on the way.

Tempting as it is to perfect a few with you, I see my job here as presenting him with a decent tray of half pre-cooked garlic breads which he can then finish to perfection!

That’s what I would hope for from a locum, if I were in his position…..

…So it might just leave you a little bewildered & overwhelmed for the half term break.

But I hope you now trust that I will help you through it all with all the support you need when we get back, & bring it all to a satisfying conclusion before the summer break…..

Good work people!

P.S. Not all the weekly summaries will be this long, -promise!


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