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When we are happy, our natural response is to smile. But if you flip that around, does the reverse hold true? When we smile, is our natural response then to be happy? Science says yes.

Science has shown that the mere act of smiling can lift your mood, lower stress, boost your immune system and possibly even prolong your life. Just think what singing and smiling together can do for you.

A great turn out last night and, having so many people in the room, including Julia and Adie, we made a fuller and richer sound.

Now we just have to work on getting the harmonies (or your own specific tunes, as you should think of them) correct.

This can only be done by practice, not just when we are together, but also at home when alone! Now here's a suggestion?

Not sure what to work on?

Concentrate on the parts that you know you are unsure of first. These are usually highlighted on a Tuesday night. You have the backing tracks of your voice and the full version to help.

Then go through the whole repertoire refreshing your mind of the songs you know well, just to keep the muscle memory going.

Learn some phrases by heart, especially the ones at the end of a song, so you can watch Eamonn for the endings. If we don’t end a song cleanly it will not give the audience a good impression and will make us all look unprofessional!

A little done each day is more beneficial than cramming everything on one day like the night before we meet.

A few pointers:

Breathing at the right time: in all of our songs it is critical to breathe at the right time so you can enjoy the length of the phrases and the endings are sharp and together,

If you really can’t hold your breath for as long as required, leave off the last consonant of the word and take a very quick breath e.g. do not add an ‘s’ on ‘hopeless’ otherwise it will sound like a deflating tyre!

Smiling brightens notes and sounds, especially on words like ‘love’ and ‘oohs’.

Smile when singing the high notes too or on descending phases so they don’t go flat!

The Impossible Dream: Tenors be confident on your first note ‘To dream….’

Everyone sing a ‘z’ sound on the last note when singing ‘starz’. It makes it sound crisp.

Try to Remember: There is a lot of ebb and flow in this song.

‘wept’ and ‘kept’ are long sounds e,g, ‘keeept’ and ‘weeept’. Altos remember you have a different rhythm to everyone else at this point.

Tenors remember you are NOT on the tune: learn your part as if it is YOUR tune!

Nights in White Satin: Sopranos make the start a sultry sound and don’t get carried away with the top notes in the ‘oohs’ section’

Make You Feel My Love: keep ‘face’, ‘case’ and ‘embrace’ short

‘No there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do avenue’ and ‘go to the ends of the earth for you’ should have a blues sound.

listening to Elkie Brooks on that Slow Train: The first note ‘No’ is sung before the piano plays, so be ready to come in after the introduction

Eamonn adores this song and it makes him so happy, so enjoy the journey and get it right!

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Get Ready! A blast from the past 1960's style .

As you all know preparation is the key to any successful event. With the concert only six weeks away we need to get ready.

The In Flagrante Look

We will wear all black (think of the New Zealand rugby team and how smart they look!)

Gents in plain black shirts and trousers

Ladies in plain black dresses or plain black tops with plain black skirts or trousers

A colourful buttonhole or corsage will be lent to you on the night.

Get ready and check your wardrobe, the shops or charity shops etc

In Flagrante Music

Everyone should have a purple folder with a complete set of music.

Beware; it is rather heavy to hold all the way through the concert, unless you have arms as strong as Penny Mordaunt at the King’s Coronation!

I usually have two purple folders and split the first half and second half between them to make it manageable.

Just remember to take the right folder into the concert!

The In Flagrante Sound

Now we look the part, we just need to sound it too!

There is no easy way to do this; work hard and practice!

Each week we will go through the songs and fine tune them and work on the performance..

The last two weeks we will have a pianist and Eamonn will conduct so he can give us clear instructions with his hands and head, especially on the cut offs and dunce holes.

Warning: you do not want to fall in a dunce hole at a concert and get the Eamonn GLARE!

In Flagrante. From Medieval Latin, literally “while the crime is blazing”, from Latin in + flāgrō (“burn”) + dēlictō, form of dēlictum (“crime, misdeed”). Counterfeiters caught in flagrante delicto

Last night we were rather bottom heavy, with very few sopranos and lots of Tenors and Basses!

Hopefully on The Night we will be well balanced.

We started on Slow Train. Remember we are the journey flowing over the chugging music underneath.

Don’t let the words become ‘choppy’. Make it sound nostalgic and like a lost world.

Enjoy the short ‘cat’ on a seat and that the second time the ‘up and no down’ are equal notes. Don’t breathe before the phrase and it makes it easier to sing.

The mid-section is tricky as the underlying music changes, so the tenors and Sopranos need to keep the words moving along. A long ‘sleepers sleep’ (watch Eamonn) before easing back into the journey.

Little gaps after ‘Goole’ and ‘from St Erth’ and ‘to St Ives’; yes, you’ve guessed it – Watch Eamonn.

So, Mind the Gap.

This announcement now plays only at Embankment station. It's been replaced at all other stations, but his widow appealed to the council, and asked them to reinstate her husband's voice at Embankment as after he died, she liked to go there to listen to his voice.

Smile was next. Eamonn was surprised it was so good.

Just a couple of things to remember:

‘What’s the use of cry---ing’ elongated and notes the same length and then pull back and be very gentle to the end.

Blowing in the Wind needs to be lyrical with long lines – don’t make it choppy.

With ‘died’ the tenors have a moving note, so Sopranos, Altos and Basses hold on to their ‘died’ as it is a long note, until tenors have finished.

Bridge over Troubled Water is all about the Altos. It is syncopation and rhythm.

A tip for the Altos: at the beginning, ‘When you’re weary’ is followed by three shut ups and a long ‘feeling’

Everyone, please learn the last four bars, so you can watch Eamonn for the timings at the end.

Impossible Dream needed a little more work. Basses be ready for your first note. Smile on ‘bear’ in unbearable sorrow.

‘try’, ‘weary’, reach’ are all open sounds so smile as you sing them.

Altos keep your ‘Ooohs ‘an open sound. Practise as if they are ‘yeahs’ to feel the openness and then sing as an ‘Oooh’ (Don’t sing ‘yeahs’ in the concert!)

Tip of the Week

Get ready for the concert and make sure you hold your purple folder up in front of you, slightly away from your body. This way you can move your head up slightly to see Eamonn and keep your throat open at the same time.

Get ready for next week, and listen to the tracks at home, when we will go through Try to Remember and Make you Feel My Love as well as anything else.

And remember, 'When you weary is followed by

and a long feeling'

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The concert is surprisingly only seven weeks away! In reality we have six more weeks of practice before the dress rehearsal on 11 July.

Everyone should now have copies of the music and access to the tracks in Dropbox.

Please bring a pencil to mark the pieces in your scores that need special attention.

e.g. a smiley face when you need to brighten words, dunce holes, do not turn the page at the end of a song etc

Having sung through all the songs in our full repertoire we all know the notes and words, so Eamonn is now taking us through each song piece by piece and fine tuning them to get us to performance level.

Blowing in the Wind is a song all about peace.

The questions asked should be emphatic whereas the answers should be gentle as they are blowing in the wind!

The lyrics ask how many people must die? At the time, the United States involvement in the Vietnam war had many people asking this exact question, wondering when their leaders will listen to the protests.

The important piece and feature of this song is the Scotch Snaps.

The Lombard rhythm or Scotch snap is a syncopated musical rhythm in which a short, accented note is followed by a longer one. This reverses the pattern normally associated with dotted notes or notes inégales, in which the longer value precedes the shorter.

The Altos first note is quite high, so be prepared!

Smile as you sing into the verse.

Verse two is a battle of voices emphasising that ‘too many people have died’ and thinking up as you sing this.

Altos remember that ‘people exist’ is different in the second verse.

Tenors and Altos; the tune is what you make it. If you are not singing your piece on the actual tune of the song, own the notes you are singing and make them YOUR tune.

The Tenors pin all the pieces together by making it chordal. If it’s too easy to sing you are probably on the wrong note!

The Rhythm of Life is a challenging song. No harmonies as such. We all sing the same pieces of phrases, but at different times overlapping with each other making a cacophony of sound. Great concentration is needed to follow the parts you are singing as well as being aware of what everyone else is singing too.

Make it a light, cool sound at the beginning, like a soft shoe shuffle and gradually build it up. As I said before you can never have enough of Sammy Davis Jr.

KEEP YOUR EYES ON EAMONN for the cut offs, especially at the end. This is important for all the songs and cannot be stressed enough.

Bridge Over Troubled Water; the rhythm of this is important especially with the chorus which is different every time.

Remember ‘lay me down’ the first time is syncopated, but the second time it is sung it is separate notes and NOT syncopated. Smile when singing ‘down’ to brighten it.

Don’t forget the Eamonn’s famous Dunce Hole at the end. Eyes up and watch your Music Director.

Tip of the Week

When not taking a breath in a phrase, connect the consonant of the last word to the beginning of the next word. That way you will not slow down or leave a gap that shouldn’t be there.

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