Friday, 1 October 2010
Lots of individual slots today, and the 'sign up' was pleasing. At least my plenary sessions did not put folk off coming for a little one to one teaching.
The individual lessons are only 15 or 20 minute in length, and everyone is so keen to get as much as they can from them it makes teaching such a joy. Many of the not so confident singers blossom with a bit of positivity, and the fact that they can sing out loud! This may sound like a strange thing to say, but in monastic life, the choir singing is based on blend, and not individualism. Anyone with a slightly larger voice which may stand out in a crowd, spends almost their entire religious life trying to 'keep it down' so as not to disrupt the overall tone quality.
Thus, once in a while, the best thing I can offer is the time and availablity for a good old belt. It gives those large voiced singers such a feeling of libration, a freedom, which by the nature of their lifestyle is hardly ever opened up, to use muscles and feel the resonating buzz which come hand in hand with a feel good factor.
We used the chapel, which, whilst modern and carpeted still has space to move, to sing and generally let rip.
I taught 2 Grace and Compassion Sisters who are based in Sussex, but whose native language is Tamil. I often come across nuns and monks who are from other cultures and whose native tongue is not a Western language. The vowel sounds are totally alien to me, and equally they find English vowels difficult and tricky.
These two were absolutely delightful, and they laughed and laughed at each others' attempts at an EE vowel and an AW vowel - we ended up in a 'win some lose some' situation ! They worked so hard in their attempts you might have thought it was a 'gurning' contest, where the most lip contortion and nose crinkling would win a prize ! They are from an order whose main vocation is in caring for the very elderly and very sick, and somehow the ability to sing a good EE vowel seems relatively unimportant in the great scheme of things - but not for these two brave young women ! We got there on OW and OO but EE and AW will need a little more time and patience!
Each small slot of time brought a new challenge and a new personality, but the overiding positivity lights up the day like a musical candle.