I was determined to start back strongly after the Easter break with the girls choir I conduct. I’ve been experimenting with seating arrangements for the forty or fifty of them that turn up every week(!). For a while there I arranged them in a circle to try and eliminate the talking in the back row phenomenon. It sort of worked and certainly loosened things up a bit; I could walk around the circle and encourage sound production where necessary.
The sixth years have their conformation coming up – quite a big deal, I realised when the teacher produced the book of music they’d be singing. I arranged them in as few rows as possible length-ways in the room where we rehearse and did a good hour’s work with them. Starting with standing up (a huge challenge for some of them!), breathing and warm-ups – explaining why all these things were important – we progressed to the simple canonic Agnus Dei that was in the book. The good thing about this music is that they all pretty much know it already. Of course, that can also be a bad thing…we got into a discussion about what humility is (“…it’s like when you invite someone into your house…”) as I got them to think about how to sing the words. The last note in the phrase is a semibreve on the word ‘us’, so we also had to think about where to place the ‘s’.
In contrast, we also worked on the refrain of the Gloria. This had an optional harmony and, buoyed by our good work to this point, I forged ahead… We sang the melody all together, then I taught them all the harmony line. By alternating tune and harmony a few times we were eventually able to split into the two parts. A great achievement for them – can’t wait for next week!