Singing Workshops are fun!
Updated: Mar 2
One Autumn day, a couple of weeks before Lockdown 2.0, I popped over to Richmond, North Yorkshire, to see four lovely ladies. They're four friends who sing with Richmondshire Choral Society, Darlington Choral Society, or in Jan's case, both!
Our lovely hostess Jan!
We set ourselves up in Jan's living room and had a socially distanced sing. Jan had given me a fairly loose brief, asking for some tips on how to look after aging voices, and how to be more confident with higher notes. No problem!
From left: Sue, Judy, Jan and Marcia
The workshop lasted around an hour, and we covered a lot!
First thing's first- whatever your age, your body is your instrument. So we started with some great stretches for singers and some tips on how to keep your body and your voice in tip top health, within everyone's comfortable range of movement.
Nicely warm, next we looked at the alignment of our bodies, and how to position all your different body parts to help you breathe fully, and sing strongly.
To do that, we need to use our tummies, and the whole of our lower bodies. One of the best ways to wake up your lower body is by laughing, so we did plenty of that! For more on this, and lots more tips, please visit my 'Singing Tips' Instagram story highlights (those are the little round bubbles on the homepage- there's musical cooking too!)
I love meeting new people and sharing positive things on Instagram- come and join me!
Then we looked at the psychology of high notes (they're not so different from lower notes) and we did some exercises to help us with that, including a slightly unusual one from the fantastic German soprano Monica Mauch which involves reverse psychology!
Monica encouraged me to have singing lessons after hearing me at a masterclass before a concert she gave with the brilliant Hilliard Ensemble. The next year, a couple of the ensemble came back to Romaldkirk Festival (one of their friends' Mum's lives there!) and I performed a quartet with them at evensong. Amazing things happen in Teesdale!
The view from the lakeside room where I teach at TCR Hub in Barnard Castle, Teesdale
Anyone who sings with me will know that I love vowels! So I shared a couple of tricks to make the most of them, based on the carol Away in a Manger. I asked them to sing it again, this time focussing purely on the baby in the story, and the emotions that made them feel. It sounded so beautiful I made a Youtube video about it! Click here to watch it.
Me in Bella, my beautiful little car, after the workshop
Now for a bit of work on our 'head voice', for which we sang one of my favourites- Silent Night. We did this first to a nice 'ooo' sound, for richness, before putting the vowels back in and setting it a bit higher, which now seemed much easier after the workshop!
We finished with a warm down- very important! A bit of humming was the order of the day, which is a great thing to do in the car on your way home from choir.
Here's Sue, with Jan's lovely festive dresser!
After a few questions and a nice chat about the pros and cons of vibrato (I love it when it's natural), it was time to finish. It's always a joy to work with people who love to sing, we all really enjoyed ourselves!
"Thank you for coming and giving us lots to think about and to practice. You’d obviously put a lot of thought into the session right from the Covid-19 awareness beforehand, through to providing guidance for our ageing voices.
The practical advice for whole body awareness, engaging the correct muscles in singing posture and breathing techniques were really helpful. I find myself sitting straighter just thinking about it!" Jan
You can find more lovely feedback from other people who enjoy singing with me on the Meet my Students page on my website.
If you'd like to have a chat about one-to-one or group coaching, in person or online, please send me a message firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call on 07581 034482. I'm very lucky to live in a beautiful rural area, so if my phone say it is off, it's very probably not- please just send me a text and I'll call you back soon!
PS. If you liked the sound of all the carols, I'm hoping to do a special Christmas Carols themed workshop in Manfield Village Hall (next to The Crown Inn) on 30 December. This would be for a maximum of 12 people at a safe social distance, and in accordance with the relevant COVID-19 guidelines. If you would like more details about this and future workshops, please send me a message and I'll keep you posted.
Take care, thanks for reading and do visit again soon!