The rain came, and the singers came and the children came! We had a great day, singing together, laughing, drinking tea and coffee and plenty of water (of course) and eating cake and watermelon. Altogether eleven adults and four children and one baby attended the first (this time around) Baha’i Choir rehearsal, travelling from as near as Pontllanfraith and as far away as Swansea. Dad and I swept the basement flat free from cobwebs, swept the floor and pre-painted the walls (!) a few days before, the living room big enough for seventeen people to seat comfortably and the high ceilinged kitchen a great place for learning harmonies with a smaller group.
At 12.30pm most people arrived, with their packed lunches and we served hot drinks and chatted amicably together as we ate lunch. A knock at the door and Carol, a lady from Cardiff who had connected with me through the Facebook ‘Creative Voice’ page was at the front door! I was so impressed with her bravery, travelling up the valleys and turning up to sing with a bunch of complete strangers to join in with everything. I could see she was having a great day as the choir members (most of whom had sung with me in Summer School this August) were welcoming and friendly – and she’s coming to the next rehearsal, so she must have had a good time!
I was pleased that we had a range of ages in the choir too. It is so important that children sing with adults and music is a natural part of their lives and four children joined us! My nine year old niece, Zia, stayed for the whole practice and the others joined in with a few songs, went off to play in the rest of the house and then came back again to sing at the end. I think the age range of the choir now ranges from aged 5 to 72! Brilliant!
At this rehearsal I taught the following songs, ‘Tue Tue’ (briefly – as part of the warm-up) ‘Building Bridges’ (melody and higher harmony) and ‘God sufficeth’ (with Dad on guitar), ‘Allunde’, ‘As I went down to the river to pray’ (melody and lower harmony) and ‘Give love one more chance’. The lyrics for these and videos (more coming soon!) can be found on my website, creativevoicewales.com Everyone concentrated so beautifully, singing their hearts out with great gusto and I felt they learned the songs very quickly. The sound of melodies and harmonies together was fantastic – and I had goose bumps when we sang ‘As I went down to the river to pray’.
I have to say, running choir sessions is one of my all-time favourite things to do. I particularly enjoyed running the singing course in the Baha’i Arts Academy for a few years as it gave me a chance to sing all week, to encourage and inspire people from all over the UK and abroad who loved singing but often felt disempowered and shy to sing in front of others and to rearrange and work with all different kinds of songs – witnessing new harmonies and arrangements come to life. In the French Baha’i Summer School in Evian, France 2011 I worked with the Le Deun family to bring choir sections to their compositions and felt such joy as I stood in the middle of the stage, feeling the vibrations of the music through my bare feet and letting the beautiful sound created by the singers, violins, penny-whistle, piano, drums and piano wash over and around me.
So I’ve now brought it all home, to sing in Wales with my family and friends and it’s so exciting to record songs, work on arrangements and harmonies, find new music and bring them to life in a room full of lovely people all wanting to cheer the hearts of our future audience.
There are a few things I’ve learned from yesterday’s rehearsal. I would like to delegate a few tasks so that I can concentrate more on the music and my role as conductor. I think we need a coordinator who can arrange car-pooling and the rehearsal schedule. Also someone needs to take over the role of providing refreshments and washing up – making sure everyone feels a homely sense of having a nice cuppa and piece of cake. Perhaps we also need someone who can provide some other artistic activities for the children, so that they can enjoy singing with us, but then have fun in another creative way – as four hours of singing is perhaps too much for young children?! Any takers for these roles?
I’m looking forward to the next rehearsal on October 27th, and I’m beginning to wonder if we can’t have twice monthly meetings? Hmmmmmm…..
(Photo is from a weekend school in Wiltshire last year. I promise to post up-to-date photos of the Wales choir soon!)