Monday, 7 June 2010

A Singing Marathon

Today I adjudicated upwards of 150 singers. I love adjudicating, and feel it is almost as if I am performing again. The same rules apply - engage the audience, empathise with the audience and speak/sing from the heart. One can also throw in a few cheeky gags if one feels they will accept a joke which is usually at the expense of the blond sopranos in the room!

I heard everything from Under 9's singing Bessie the Black Cat to a 74 year old (I know because he told me!) retired Church of Scotland minister singing a heartfelt Silent Worship by Handel. The wonderful thing about music festivals is that singing and music really is for everyone, whether they begin at 70 or 7.

There were 3 performances of Michael Head's A Green Cornfield, and one young lady I heard was captivating. She 'saw' the song before she opened her mouth, and went on to paint the picture with her eyes as well as her voice. I was riveted from the first note of the introduction.

It is such fantastic experience to 'do' the round of festivals. There is no other way to create so many deadlines for learning, or for putting up with the rough as well as the smooth. I was still competing in them when I was 21 and 22, and it is simply the best way I know of teaching performance skills and humility to my own pupils. The wonderful thing is seeing the singers relax as the day goes on, and after 3 or 4 classes suddenly their nerves are gone and I hear what they can really do. I can never give enough concert performances to my singers, and I can also never give them a concert experience where they can sing 6 solos and a duet! Our concerts would finish at 3 in the morning at that rate.

I was born and brought up in the festival movement, and so have a deep and abiding bond with the ethos of ' friendly competition, and pursuing each other to perfection', and it certainly made a man out of me!

A festival looms for my pupils, and although winning is great (and one can't get around that) the camaraderie and support from 'team Lampard' is the finest outcome of the experience. Actually for my friends and I, about 100 years ago, it was also the meals out, the fun fair, the laughter until you lost your voice and the odd glass of cheap wine..................did I say that?

Th picture is the Cowdray Hall where the singing classes take place all week - yes even the 9 year olds!

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