Thursday, 3 March 2016

Sun, snow and a lost voice !

Teaching in the sisters large parlour was a joy yesterday. It is warm and cosy with the sun blazing through the bay window, which faces down to the sea. In between the sun there were fast and furious snow showers which did not really lay here, except on the few cars standing in the small area in front of the Hall, but over on the other side of the bay the fields seemed thick with white snow. Waking up today that has gone and the sun is fierce and bright and pouring like jewelled honey through my window.

I had the abbess Sr E first yesterday, and she was all in a flurry - she had expected to have some quiet time before her lesson, but even in the most peaceful of places time gets filled with unexpected crises or phone calls. Thus she was delighted to have 30 minutes to herself and just for her. She has a warm and high soprano voice and by 20 minutes in to her lesson she had soared up to a top G. Remembering that sisters never get to use top notes, as the daily office is somewhere between D above Middle C and the D above, it always takes time to get them to find their top once more ! Sr E sang lots of scales and exercises and left the parlour with a hop and a skip !

Sr M, the organist here has had a rough couple of months and lost her voice entirely, largely due to an severe asthma attack in January. She has always so enjoyed her singing lessons so I felt on a mission to see if any of the voice was still there - she believed that at her age it was gone for ever ! She could speak, albeit a little croaky, but had not managed to sing at all. I detected that when she spoke a little higher in pitch and resonance her tone seemed quite normal, so I took a gamble and made her try to sing some light scales on one note, but above an A. I took a deep breath and we set off. It was, thank the Lord, all there, slight as yet but exactly as it has always been, a pure and sweetly vibrating tone. I so wished I had a camera in my hand, the look of complete shock and surprise on her face was a wonder to behold. She almost jumped up off her chair in excitement - I wondered if she would leap around the room ! To seal the fact she still had a voice I recorded her singing these short scales and she listened to the playback getting ever nearer to the iPad in utter wonderment.

Some moments just have no price !

My teaching parlour at Boarbank Hall - note the enormous mirror on the dresser - very useful !


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