Wednesday, 22 September 2010

A Child's Prayer to pack her suitcase

In 3 minutes time it will be exactly one month until we fly to New York for our cruise holiday up the coast of New England and into Canada. I know my grandchildren are now counting the days, and starting to ask if they can pack their suitcases! I will be more than ready for a holiday then, as, to pay for the spending money fund I am working twice on the way South, and once on the way back up North!

So before the departure date I will be masterclassing my old duet partner's choral group for a big competition, and then moving another 250 miles South to the Poor Clare nuns in Arundel for two days workshops and individual lessons.....then I can finally relax and go on holiday! On my way home I drive to Yorkshire again and give two days to the Benedictine nuns at Stanbrook Abbey, before crawling my way back to Paradise.

When I return it will be exactly 18 days until the singing examinations take place. Mind you, if this week was anything to go by, all my candidates are doing me proud. I gave a deadline of Oct 13th by which time all exam music must be memorised - then I can travel, happy in the knowledge that they at least know all their pieces. The final couple of lessons will be the polishing and tweaking which buys us the extra marks, and the added bit of sophistication, which, if done too early means that the performances 'go over' and become stale.

There is an optimum moment when those colours need adding to the earlier monochrome performances, so that suddenly, everything comes to life and sparkles just at the very minute it is required.

Some of my younger entrants already know their songs 'all bar the shouting' so to speak, so next week I will load them up with lots of juicy Christmas music for our next extravaganza, and they can absorb those by osmosis - which is the way most singers under 18 learn songs, as far as I can tell !

Osmosis is great! Not too much thought, but just enough, not too much heartache, but maybe enough, and not too much finishing, a wonderful canvas upon which to paint the myriad hues of the music.

Blimey, I sound as though I am really waxing lyrical tonight - well all my youngsters today were so well on, and so confident about it they were a breeze to teach, which makes my day one of the proverbial 'milk and honey' !

One song set for Grade 1 is 'A Child's Prayer' by W.H. Anderson, and although I never sang it myself, I heard it many times as a teenager, sung by younger pupils of my teacher Middy. It is a divine little song, simple and tricky at one and the same time, only 2 pages in length, but full of delicious long phrases and sweet, yet never sickly words. It needs such a light and tender touch, and fantastically clear words and the ability in an 8/9/10 year old to sing the long phrases with intelligence and understanding.

I think of Middy, because even all those years ago, when I heard it sung I knew she only gave it to the children with brains, who could achieve the level of clarity and diction, and no matter how small their voice they had the magical ability to hold the audience. I do the same, consequently over the last 25 years I can count on the fingers of 2 hands how many times I have used it with Grade 1 candidate.

Click on the link below. I am slightly ashamed to say that I knew nothing about Mr Anderson except that he was Edwardianish - I googled him and found a most interesting article.

Well done all of you lot to whom it was given ! Take it as a real compliment - Middy would have been proud !

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