Saturday, 16 October 2010

Run Rabbit Run

It was a hard day's singing, and the group that I was working with were pretty dead by the time we had finished. I am usually of the 'short and sharp' school of rehearsal, but today, much of the work they had been putting in for the last 2 months needed pulling together and stitching up, so to speak. These singers are a dedicated and hard working bunch, yet in some ways like some of my youngsters who suffer tension because of overdrive, I think the ladies had been putting in a great deal of slog and sweat for not much return.

Having said that, the notes and words were all there, the 'nuts and bolts' were in place, but somehow the joy and pleasure was not present. The reason why they usually are such fun to work with had vanished in a cloud of fear! The beautiful part song by Antonin Tucapsky 'I Saw Thee Weep', poem by Lord Byron, had been subsumed by the fact that they were simply scared stiff of the musical complexities. It sounded like a group of extremely nervous rabbits caught in 10 sets of headlights! Now given that there are a number of big personalities, and some very experienced singers in this small ensemble, the cold fear was almost tangible, and very surprising.

We come back, once again to relaxing, loosening up and remembering why we are doing it in the first place. Singing is tough at the professional end, tough at the amateur end, and tough in the middle, but we do it because we love it and it makes us feel good. If the feel good factor is missing then it is a waste of energy, and becomes quite depressing. I have known many of these women as friends and colleagues for oodles of years, and I know they sing because they love it.

Today, for a while the 'love' bit was missing. After warming up and singing through the song, hitting the wall of fear, I rethought the whole thing and decided to fall back on the old tried and tested ' count the windows in the hall whilst you sing', and 'count the chairs around the table'.....I'm not proud, I'll stoop to any level to disconnect the brain and the voice ! That went a good way to helping them forget themselves and let their voices do what (after all these years!) comes naturally.

It was Ann 1 Singers 0 by 11.15am !

Then after a much needed coffee we worked on a couple of pieces they know very well, and I could feel the joy returning like the prodigal soprano. They began to spark up and answer back - it was all coming back to life, and the score became

Ann 1 Singers 1 !

By lunch time, a tired but game and smiling band sat down to a fantastic spread laid on by my old duet partner the redoubtable J. A few glasses of wine added into the mix, and by the time we restarted we were all able to tackle the piece I blogged about last time I was with them, the Jewish 'Ya Ba Ba Bom'........only this time it had MOVES ! Feet, voice, and brain were tested to the limits, but I really think we cracked it. After much wringing of hands and shouting on my part, it was beginning to sound and look as if they were actually enjoying themselves.

This group of ladies generally have no conductor or director, so it is tough for them to keep the sense of vocal discipline and cohesion needed for tight and clean part singing.

So here in black and white are a few little rules to follow girls!!

a) Vowel shapes - no laziness please!
b) Warm up and have a laugh before you tackle anything harder than Twinkle Twinkle !
c) When things are going wrong distract yourselves with silly games !
d) When you are lucky enough to have someone to lead - use them !
e) Always remember why you are there, WE LOVE SINGING - WE LOVE SINGING WITH FRIENDS !

Laughing and Loving are the reasons for singing - is'nt that one of those great Novello songs ?

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