Songs for all?

Week 2 – good to know that numbers are the same as week 1 – we started with 18 and had 24 by the end. That number 24 I seem to remember was also what we had when we sang outside the library!

There is a boxercise class in the room next to us – there is only a dividing wall between us so the noise leaks through – thankfully they did turn it down when I went and asked while we were doing our warm ups and they finish long before us.

So, diversity is a wonderful thing – diversity when it comes to choosing songs that everyone feels comfortable and confident singing can be a challenge. I always try and choose a variety of songs in english, from old well known songs (Drunken Sailor) or modern pop songs (Only You) mixed with a variety of call and response songs in different languages, from different African dialects (Senua de Dende), Asian, European as well as nonsense songs such as (Kumula Vista).

The group were SO confident last week in their singing I wanted to see how well they could cope with three parts – we tried (Yonana) and it worked well with the melody in the middle voices and simple harmonies of two or three pitches in the high and low voices. We moved onto (Only You) – there were two children there tonight who helped me think of some actions to help everyone remember the words (although I did have them written up). It was challenging when the bass and middle parts entered as I had forgotten how SYNCOPATED they are. All very well to have not too many pitches but if there are lots of rest and dotted notes which cross and criss cross again with the other parts it can be a real challenge and it was. The chorus though sounded great in 3 parallel parts. Interesting how for some groups parallel harmony is more challenging than three separate lines, and of course it changes from every hour to every day.

SO much assessment going on from all of us – watching to each other, to me, listening to ourselves, to neighbours, to the group as a whole, finding our feet. Complex and fascinating stuff.

The room is good because of where it is situated geographically – the windows are good and wide and view reminds us firmly where we are – the air conditioning is challenging and I hadn’t noticed it when I booked it, we must hope we don’t get too many more hot nights.

Everyone is already supporting one another, getting chairs out, chatting with neighbours, tidying up afterwards.

It is going to feel a little strange to only have four more sessions and then start a new group in a new setting, but I must remember that this is a pilot to find out what is wanted and how we make that work, in terms of song choices, venues, times of day etc

Two people tonight told me as they were leaving that they usually sing (respectively) Dean Martin songs or Country and Western. Another lady requested we sing the theme from Titanic and another the Lion sleeps tonight or the Andrews Sisters – SO much varied choice which raise so many questions – Andrews Sisters in close harmony would challenge the best of us, I have not been brave enough to try ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’ with another choir I run at Nordoff Robbins Music therapy centre, and they have been going for 16 months. ‘My heart will go on’ is fine as a solo song but SO hard to sing en masse. Dean Martin and Country and Western? Hmmm how about – “Memories are made of this” with the second line “sweet sweet the memories you gave to me, you can’t beat the memories you gave me” or you HAVE to watch Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette singing “Silver Threads and Golden Needles” JUST to see the frocks!!

Also two people are hearing impaired and although I have worked a lot with participants with visual impairment and so have to use my voice rather than my hands, I must remember that I need to face everyone as much as possible so all can see and hear. Then there were two children there too who needed to remain engaged so they don’t give mum a hard time when she wants to come next week!

Ah differentiation – so so so important

I have to remember I am gathering gathering gathering and making sure I try to introduce different ways of teaching and learning over the weeks, both with instrumentation, lyric sheets, notation, call and response (or not) etc

This summer project is to find out what is needed and what works and what is possible in terms of songs for all or whether needs are SO diverse that recommendations are made for different groups with different singing leaders to meet those needs

No answers yet but fascinating and rewarding watching, listening , learning and collating all the questions that are coming up …….

Hope we get a chance to sing at the Roehampton festival in August and bring the two groups together

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