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A call to arms – or rather arm pits or even a Trumpet!

 

To hit those high notes, no matter your voice part, you need to engage your back muscles and use your upper body.  Do not rely on just vocal chords, which are thin and will be strained.

 

Think of holding a large orange under each armpit and when you want to hit that high note, squeeze those oranges and it will engage you back muscles. 

 

There is no need to rush out and buy oranges. To do this just takes some imagination. 

The more you do this your back will strengthen and it will get embedded in your muscle memory and you will eventually do it without thinking about it.

 

You might also hear Eamonn refer to this method as ‘opera arms’ as you’ll see opera singers using this technique to reach the high notes.

 



Having practised our opera arms in the warm up with Bella Signora, catchy little number!

And then we were back to Joshua which was is very good in places.

 

Areas to improve are emphasising the ‘ck’ sound at the end of ‘Jericho’. 

When coming to the verses, make them loud and frightening as if you are really attacking Jericho.

Then when returning to the chorus, make it terrifyingly quiet.

Attack, attack, but accurately!

 

As a contrast God Only Knows is challenging with it is unstructured interweaving sounds.

Just to clarify the music score: Ladies are Lady Tenors &Tenors and Gents are Basses.

 

On the tricky Ooh, ba ba ba, do do do section. Altos keep your Oohs round.  Sops, Tenors and Basses are permitted to slide at the end of their phrase.

 

Make ‘without you’ very clear with definite ‘t’ on without and don’t let sound like ‘without chew’

 

Sops be ready for the high note on ‘what’.  Squeeze those oranges and attack the note singing through ‘what’.

 



Keep the lines long and lyrical and don’t be tempted to make it a choppy sound like the underlying piano accompaniment.

 

Live at Knebworth England 1980

Paul McCartney has said he considers this the best song ever written ~ From one musical genius to another, says it all.


Then a well earned break while we got to know everyone as we were all labelled!


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Unchained Melody. This is a clever little video. Robson and Jerome meet Brief Encounter with Trevor Howard and Celia Johnston. It follows a passionate extramarital relationship in England shortly before World War II. The protagonist is Laura, a married woman with children, whose conventional life becomes increasingly complicated after a chance meeting at a railway station with a married stranger whom she subsequently falls in love with.


 Another song to attack with the back and squeeze those oranges!

 

This song needs stamina.  The phrases are long lines across the bars. 

However, ‘touch’ and ‘much’ are very short.

 

When you get to the harmony on ‘mine’ in ‘…are you still mine’ let it shine through like glorious shaft of light!

This is followed by a gentle, ‘I need your love’ sung by the Sop 1s and the echoes by everyone else underneath should be like a whisper of backing singers.

 



Attack of the oranges

As the ‘lonely river flows to the sea, to the sea….’ give the music direction on its journey.

Sops, squeeze those oranges and engage the back muscles for those really high notes and attack.

They are just under at the moment, which is not a good sound!

 

On the last notes, basses can sing falsetto if they choose, which will add another dimension to the sound.

 

Next week we will look at Mad World and Let the Sunshine – more background information and facts on these songs will follow, so wait in anticipation for the next blog.




 

 

 

 

 

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NOooooooooooooo!


Eamonn was back in good form and had us go through You’ve Got Friend.  All was going well until we reached bar 20 ‘…. ‘You just call out my name…..’ and some sang along with the tune. A wise person once said, if you're not singing the tune make the part your singing, your tune. Hope this makes sense.


To find the right note, listen to the Sops singing ‘even your darkest night’ and ‘night’ is your note.

 

‘….take your soul if you let them’ is another harmony. Interestingly, the Tennessee legislature in February 1850 with regards, to a woman’s right to own property came to the conclusion that “women have no souls” and therefore “no right to own property.”Hmmmm!

 



This seemed to be a running theme tonight. They were told many times, ’You are NOT on the tune!’ 

We are a choir and sing in harmony otherwise it would just be a karaoke sing along!

 

It may be a good idea to mark your music score when you are singing the tune and distinguish it from when you are singing the harmony.

 

Sop 1s watch out for the high note on ‘Yes, I will’ and bounce off the ‘yes’ and don’t forget to smile!

 

At the very end everyone ensure you sing ‘You’ve got a friend’ with a ‘v’ sound and a strong ‘d’ on friend. Eamonn doesn’t want it to sound like a bleating lamb!

 

The Rose was next.  This the new 2024 version, which is nearly the same as the previous one, but with a different ending.  Therefore, it should have been fairly straightforward.  Famous last words!

 

Sops start us off and to stop it sounding mushy, they have, unusually, been given permission to breathe! 

 

The phrases should be chopped, so a small breath can be taken between each one

e.g. Lies the seed/that with the sun’s love/in the spring/becomes the rose.

 

When we all sing in harmony at the point of ‘When the night has been too lonely….’  It sounds like a glorious choir!

Ensure all the ends of the phrases are strong with a clear ‘t’ on ‘night’, ‘d’ on ‘road, ‘ng’ on ‘long and ‘strong’

 



Joshua was next based on the story of Joshua in the Bible. 'Fit' represents a way of saying 'fought'. The song tells how Joshua captured the city of Jericho when he ordered the Israelites to blow trumpets until the walls fell down. Certainly not karaoke.

 

In our version, when the walls came tumblin’ down’, keep ‘down’ very short and sing ‘like good old ‘Josh – wah’.

 

Make page 4 very quiet and then build up to the battle.  This song is about light and shade and quiet and loud.

 

It was very clear tonight that homework needs to be done.  Learning on the night is good, but to retain the knowledge, it is important to practise at home. 

Just a little each day will embed it in your mind; specially for the basses who do NOT have the tune most of the time.

 

We are a great choir and sing beautifully in harmony.



Trillers on a Perch











Sue Jensen - Visit Art Deco style “Borough Market“  opened in 1851  - a historic and high quality market. 

Open 6 days a week but I went on a Saturday (9.00 to 5.00). There was a real buzz. 

Easy to get there - London Bridge Tube & follow the people … 

Go with an appetite & carrier bags   - lots of sampling and masses of choice. Tempted to buy everything !! 

You can also book Official Tours     - See their website. 

Afterwards,  it’s a short walk to Southwark Cathedral, which is fascinating. 

Borough Market in 1872 (Gustave Dore)

Busy as ever. Nothing changes.



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Or another take. We are what we do. Success is not an act but a habit. Aristotle


A quick lesson in our warm up tonight with counting 1 to 8 up and down the scale.  Second time round we missed out number 4.  Not easy to remember not say the number, but it helps you to keep your composure if you do make a mistake.  Just pretend it didn’t happen and pick up the sequence when you can. This way you learn not to highlight any errors that may be made when singing in a concert.

 

If you don’t make it obvious, no one will notice (apart from Eamonn!)

 

Let's unchain this Melody and set it free!

We revisited Unchained Melody and went over the part from the key change.  Sops. especially, be ready for the high note on ‘mine’. Know it is coming and be prepared.  You’ve already sung the same note previously with ‘do so’

 

Keep ‘touch’ and ‘much’ fairly short.  After a little practise they were fabulous!

 

God Only Knows when we arrived at the Do, do do and Ba ba ba section it was disastrous to begin with.  However, we had done our homework and with a little extra help from Elliot, we were able to perfect it!

 



After a well earned break, we came back to The Rose (2024). This is a song written by Amanda McBroomBette Midler made the song famous when she recorded it for her 1979 film The Rose, in which it plays during the closing credits.

 

However, the song was not written for the movie: Amanda McBroom wrote it in 1977 or 1978, and I sang it occasionally in clubs. She believes the song struck a universal nerve because it's a message of hope that's very easily understandable.

 

There are other versions sung by Westlife, The Dubliners and The Hothouse Flowers as well as

The King’s Singers who performed an amazing a cappella version of The Rose

 

In our version, the Sops start, but with very little accompaniment underneath they are very exposed, so it is important to listen to each other and keep together.

 

The middle section crescendos to very loud and then immediately goes to very, very quiet.  Be prepared for this great contrast.  When it does get quiet, the tempo doesn’t change, so don’t slow down.

 



Allie Sherlock's voice is just timeless! We finished by tightening up The House of the Rising Sun, by just going through the tricky parts this little bit of practise put us in a good place with it.

 



Some good work was done and next week we can impress Eamonn with all we have learned and we will iron out any areas where Tenors and Basses sing.  Beware, basses, you may not always have the tune!




Trillers on a Perch











The Moonwalkers- Sue Jensen


Showing at the “Lightroom” in Kings Cross. 

I enjoyed this spectacular immersive voyage to the moon.  

I felt quite emotional afterwards. 


Tom Hanks co-wrote and narrates this epic experience that offers a unique new experience on humankind's past and voyages to the moon. Telling the stories of the Apollo missions in intimate detail.


There are newly filmed interviews between Hanks and the astronauts of the current Artemis programme providing an insight into the return of the crewed surface missions by going behind the scenes of the Artemis programme. Lightroom's powerful projection and audio technology will transform the immense space into vehicle for a spectacular immersive voyager to our closest neighbour.



First Moon Walk




 

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