The warm and friendly sisters at the Poor Clare house in Arundel welcomed me today with their usual cheerful greetings and affectionate good wishes. I do love spending time with them and their enthusiastic love of singing and their tremendous will to learn and improve.
We tackled a Gloria for a new Mass setting which was written in 1947 and a lovely mix of the English translation of the Gloria combined with a Latin descant which soars over the melody. The composer has been clever and managed to allow the two very different styles to compliment each other, and do so very effectively. The sisters pick up the part singing very quickly, and read most efficiently. This clearly comes from years of reading scores all the time, every day multiple times a day !
This is the ONLY way I know to learn how to sight sing, and even those who profess not to be able to read music can now follow the 'pattern' or 'code', and although they still would say that they cannot tell me what the notes actually are, they can follow that pattern remarkably well !
Even at 80 and over, sisters want to simply be better. It is so much a part of their daily life and work that they strive to make each word and note 'count'. The better they sing, the better they worship is the mantra of the day, the week and the year. I admire them hugely for that ever striving way.
That said, I teach in exactly the same way with the sisters of whatever abbey I travel too, as I do my own pupils in Paradise, or in Durham or indeed Hong Kong ! I work them as hard and as technically. The more knowledge and usable technique they have the longer they are able to preserve voices and make a lovely sound which is meaningful and real for the congregation or the concert goer !
It is still sweat and muscles which turn the vocal wheels ! The magic is thrown in at some point towards the end when all the graft has been accomplished, the notes learnt and the confidence on the up !
Listen to the magic tomorrow - we always manage to make it work on day 2, and I can't wait !
Hopefully this link will take you straight to Arundel.......