A Choir Member's Blog

 

Read through my latest blog posts and feel free to comment on them if you like.

 

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Singing the Proms

Posted on 7th August, 2017

   The choir are currently rehearsing for their next two concerts. The first one is at Newlyn Centre, as part of the Newlyn Fish Festival, on Sunday 27th August at 7:30pm. All proceeds from this concert will go to the Fishermen's Mission which provides emergency support alongside practical, financial,spiritual, and emotional care. They help all fishermen, active or retired, and their families.

    The second concert is the ' Last Night of the Proms ' at St.Anta Church, Carbis Bay on Friday 15th September at 7:00pm, where the audience are invited to sing along with the choir to all the ' Last Night ' favourites. All proceeds from this concert will go to the Church restoration fund. It is hoped that the young musicians who played at the choir's recent concert, which raised over £1,000 for MNDA, will also play here.

    Both these concerts are always very popular so it is advisable to plan to arrive early to ensure a good seat.

 

courtesy of Emma Bungay MND Cornwall

    If you enjoy singing and would like to join a fun, vibrant choir, who sing in four part harmony, then why not come along to one of our practices which take place every Tuesday evening from 6.30 - 8.30 at Carbis Bay Wesley Methodist Church. You will be assured of a warm and friendly welcome, will not be asked to audition and subs are only £1 per week. For more information have a look at the choir website: stivescommunitychoir.org.uk or phone Malcolm on 07971 390673 or Lynda on 01736 796832. By the way, your comments are always appreciated and can be posted through the website.

 

Malcolm Donaldson (Publicity Officer)

 

And Take Me Home

Posted on 7th June, 2016

   On Monday 30th May another of our choir members sadly passed away.  Lynda Morlaine was one of the sopranos. She had finally lost her fight against cancer, leaving her husband, Christian, and son, Daniel, who had arrived from his home in Australia.

 

   The funeral took place at Hellesveor Methodist Chapel, St Ives, on the morning of Friday 3rd June. She was an staunch member of the congregation at Hellesveor, where she will also undoubtedly be sorely missed. Lynda knew where she was going and was ready to meet her Maker and Saviour.

 

   A large group from the choir attended, many with fond memories of Lynda. The church was full.  'Make me a channel of Your peace' was chosen as the opening hymn, one which suitably and aptly reflected the person that Lynda was. To close there was a resounding rendition of 'How Great Thou Art'. The second line of the last verse sums it up...'and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart'.

 

   Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. May they also find peace in their time of grief.

 

lynda_morlaine

 

 

   The choir is currently enjoying a break of several weeks. As for Lynda, akin to the chorus of that last hymn, 'then sings my soul', no doubt she continues to sing, with the best voice she ever had.

 

Now on a Higher Plane

Posted on 2nd May, 2016

 

A number of the choir gathered with family and friends at Chy an Gweal Methodist Church, Carbis Bay, for the funeral service of Rose Buckley.  Rose was a committed member of the choir and sang in the alto section.

 

  Rose was also a committed Christian who regularly attended Chy an Gweal, where she would often lead worship. At the funeral the congregational songs were 'Amazing Grace' and 'What a friend we have in Jesus', which are a reflection and testimony of what she believed. Knowing God's grace and having Jesus as a personal friend and Saviour meant that Rose would sing such songs with confidence that gave her peace and joy. She was 'on a higher plane'.  Now her faith has taken her, literally, to a higher plane, forever with her Lord.

 

   We remember Rose with affection and miss her presence with the choir. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.

rose_buckley
1In loving-kindness Jesus came

  My soul in mercy to reclaim,

And from the depths of sin and shame

  Through grace He lifted me.

 From sinking sand He lifted me,

With tender hand He lifted me,

From shades of night to plains of light,

  Oh, praise His name, He lifted me!

2
He called me long before I heard,

  Before my sinful heart was stirred,

But when I took Him at His word,

  Forgiv’n, He lifted me.

3
His brow was pierced with many a thorn,

  His hands by cruel nails were torn,

When from my guilt and grief, forlorn,

  In love He lifted me.

4
Now on a higher plane I dwell,

  And with my soul I know ’tis well;

Yet how or why, I cannot tell,

  He should have lifted me.

Another Year Over....

Posted on 22nd December, 2015

   Just about all of us in the choir can say, "Well, that year has gone by really quickly. In fact, they seem to be getting quicker every year!" It could be something to do with age OR it could be a reflection of how busy we have been. You may have already had a look at the '2015 in Pictures' page, newly added. This is an easy and relatively speedy way to look back over all the events we have attended in one form or another. Hopefully, this will also bring back some fond memories that we all too easily forget.

 

   Our first engagement was in January. We returned to the venue of our first annual dinner at West Cornwall Golf Club. We were invited to support The Inner Wheel as they enjoyed their dinner.

 

   Not everyone on the choir would choose to have a uniform. However, a group from the choir were invited to lead the singing at a wedding at Towednack Church and wore choir uniform.

 

   Next request was for some Cornish songs at the Guildhall, St Ives, to help with the May Day celebrations. The Tourist Board even took a video of the event. Also in May, the choir joined forces with the West of England Salvation Army Youth Band at the St Ives Citadel for a well attended concert in very warm conditions.

 

   We completed May with an outdoors event. We supported the proceedings at the launch of the latest St Ives lugger, built by Jonny Nance of the St Ives Jumbo Association. The harbour slipway provided the ideal backdrop.

   At the end of June members of the choir with a few friends performed Mr Hamilton's Lazy Days. Written and directed by choir member, Jenny Duda, this was the third play and it proved to be a great success and a great fund raiser.

 

   The following week some of the choir who were able and available were back outdoors and singing at the Towednack Church Garden Party.

 

   Practices became fortnightly for everyone, especially our very busy MD, William and Alison, our wonderful accompanist. It was not until 30th August that the choir made their next appearance. It was the Last Night of the Proms at The Newlyn Fish Festival.

 

   In September, The St Ives Jumbo Association had all their boats afloat in the bay. To help with the celebrations, the choir were invited to sing from the platt above the slipway. Not everyone could make it, but those who did gave a well received performance. Later in the month the choir accepted an invitation to lead proceedings at the St Anta, Carbis Bay, Last Night of the Proms, another regular venue for the choir. It proved to be a splendid evening, full of sound, talent and colour.

 

   With the autumn came the first ever tour of the choir. We ventured abroad; well, across the Tamar anyway, to Devon. We stayed at St Mary Church just outside Torquay and gave a concert at Paignton Methodist Church, raising over £600.00 in the process. Fund raising is a key part of our 'work' in the community and this has certainly been true of 2015.

 

   In November we fulfilled a request to join the festivities of The Old Cornwall Society in The St Ives Guildhall. As we often do on such occasions, we led the audience participatory singing as well as rendering songs from our repertoire. In the week following our talented and incredibly patient MD, William Thomas, achieved terrific success at the Camborne Music Festival. This meant that by the time we arrive at West Cornwall Golf Club for our annual choir dinner we had much to celebrate.

 

   A further five events for the Christmas period, with a number of the choir also joining the Cornish Carol choir brought the year to a triumphant end. Hopefully this chronological reminder will underline what we have achieved for our community and others, with dedication, teamwork, perseverance and talent.

   New choir members are always welcome. If you follow us on-line from a distance, God bless you and we trust you have a peaceful Christmas and a healthy New Year.

  

  

  

Self Reliance and Interdependence

Posted on 28th October, 2015

   After spending just a few minutes via a search engine, I easily found articles about singing in a choir. The trouble is, once you find someone else's writing you can't use that yourself. I spent a lot of time explaining plagarism to my students when they were doing coursework for GCSE.

 

   My own thinking is currently surrounding the fact that all choirs have some members who are more confident than others. They may be able to read music, understand the theory of music, have a louder voice, seem to learn their part more readily. The choir relies on them leading their section. This may be a formalised role or one that has simply evolved in the life of the choir. It is more likely when the choir is for anyone who wants to enjoy singing together, where there are no auditions.

 

   I looked for advice from other blogs about relying on others within the choir, or your section of it. Equally, I was interested in the ones being relied upon. Should they sing more loudly so the notes are heard? Would this create an imbalance in the overall sound? Should they sing more quietly to draw out more from others? Certain pressures occur both ways.

 

   I am not sure there is a simple answer. Some folks are daunted by the standard set by 'the better singers', while others like to have someone else taking greater responsibility so that they can get what they came for; enjoyment. We have a lot of concerts coming up in a short space of time. Not everyone can make every event. Sometimes key singers will be missing. It is important that we all do what we can to enhance the experience for the choir as a whole and each individual within the audiences that listen to us.

 

   With this in mind I leave you with my top ten tips for enjoying practices and concerts. They are not particularly enlightening. Many of you would probably come up with something similar. At least I have not copied them from anyone else off the Internet. I hope you find them useful.

  1. Commit to the practices
  2. Try to be available for any concerts
  3. Organise your music folder to find pieces quickly
  4. Learn the words to each song
  5. Learn your part thoroughly, the notes, the timing
  6. Watch the conductor
  7. Learn from more talented choir members
  8. Practice at home using technology
  9. Sing your part at home once learned
  10. Avoid making the same mistakes over and over

Let's get ready

Posted on 29th June, 2015

   A month has passed very quickly without a single practice and on Saturday there is a concert! One which I will not be able to attend. Breaks in routines are good and "a rest is as good as a change", as Tezza informed wife Babs in the play. Our break will extend a further two weeks. The voice will be a little rusty, maybe even fusty, but it is important not to let the break become a new way of life.

For those of you in the choir who are not on holiday, you'll need to hit the ground running at Tuesday's practice tomorrow. While there is a possibility that we may not think of you between 6:30 and 8:30pm tomorrow, I am right now. Let's hope everyone who can, will attend and be rearing to sing.

While breaks can be good, they can mean that some fall by the wayside. Let's encourage each other to get right back into it and enjoy all the benefits our choir has to offer.

Welcome back to William and Tricia. We trust you had a resorative and revitalising time too. I know William has some very fishy tales to tell.

Performance Plateau

Posted on 22nd May, 2015

   Over the last few months the choir has set the goal of singing our repertoire from memory. To be a little more precise, the choir members rely solely on the musical director should their memories fail them.  At first there was quite a degree of resistance, but with several concerts behind us, confidence is growing.  We can certainly see the improvement that comes from having our eyes on the conductor.  Also, with our heads up, our sound has become richer.

 

   One of our songs is "Without Music", which is rather ironic. Sometimes, when we sing without music, we think we know our parts well enough, only to discover that we stray from the exact notes as written.  What we sing might fit and sound OK, but it is still wrong.  The challenge is to return to the music and re-discover the correct notes.  Many of our songs require much page turning during the learning stage, for as long as we need the music.  An interim stage to memorising everything is to have the whole piece, words only, on one sheet of A4. This is even colour coded to show who sings what. Ultimately, we just have to spend time learning everything.

 

   This leads to the strong possibility of a plateau in performance, borne out of a degree of familiarity.  Every performer or team hits a plateau in performance.  It is important that we press on and not become discouraged, bored, falsely content or complacent.  The key is self belief that we are capable on the one hand and willing on the other. 

 

   Let's give it our best shot, keep working and see a break through to even better performance.

Virgin London Marathon

Posted on 2nd April, 2015

Probably many of you know that I am running the London Marathon this year. Did you realise that is now just over 3 weeks away? Training continues, but, due to a knee injury (a bit of patella tendinitis) I am rather short of long runs. I managed 14 miles on mountain tracks in Lanzarote, but little else during that week. Currently I am able to 'run' on the cross trainer in the gym. A two hour session on Monday produced 16 miles and a full marathon distance in 3hrs 28mins on Friday.  But the roads, especially when there are downhill sections, cause problems. It's difficult to run far in Cornwall without encountering a hill or two!

 

William has often remarked that running and singing are, in some ways, similar disciplines. You have to train, but be careful not to over do it. Make sure you warm up before hand. To be performance fit you have to do a lot of repetitive training to create muscle memory and reach your peak at the right time.

 

It is a while since I have practised with the choir, which makes me feel I am somewhat out of the flow. But what a privilege to be part of a choir that is asked to sing at the funeral of Frank Thomas Rawlings on Tuesday 7th April. What an opportunity to help in a small way as the family bear their grief.

 

A lack of road miles also makes me feel under prepared for the Virgin London Marathon. But I have a much prized place and will count it a privilege to be on the start line on Sunday 26th April.

 

I am running with Hayle Runners as a proud member of that group. I am also running to raise funds for the charity I have directed and guided since 1998. Sporting Chance International is close to my heart. I hope you will consider helping me to get around the course to its finish line, whatever my knee feels like.

 

I have a fund raising page online: https://www.justgiving.com/AlanThomasSCI or you can simply pass any sponsorship / donations to me or Lesley any time.  Together we can get me over the line and every penny raised will go directly to Kenya.

 

I hope to see you all on Tuesday where we can make a difference with our hearts and voices raised in memory of Frank.

 

Alan

 

On the Art of Music Making

Posted on 23rd February, 2015

   The art of music making is a talent that should not be taken for granted. Just as an artist uses paint to portray his or her interpretation of a scene, musicians utilise notes to create a sensory atmosphere. The same colours are used by different artists yet each painting gives a different insight into the subject irrespective of the content, be it a mural, graffiti, portrait or landscape. Those basic or base colours are primary elements of the artist's pallet and enable a range of shades and different colours to be created by careful mixing.

  

   Singing voices are generally likewise placed in basic ranges:- soprano, alto, tenor and bass. Different 'shades' or range of notes create crossovers between these ranges e.g. Mezzo soprano, contralto and baritone. These generally have a broader range of notes.

 

   Just as an artist mixes colours to create a painting so a musical director seeks to blend voices together to create a sound that reflects what they feel is appropriate for the song. 

  

   Each artist will interpret a scene in their own way, using different colours & brush strokes that makes the painting unique. Some will copy others' work while some will paint in a contemporary style. The appreciation of that work will depend upon the taste of those who view it. Someone who has commissioned a portrait will not appreciate a seascape, irrespective of the quality of the painting. To equate that in a musical sense a MD must choose music that is appropriate to the audience whilst understanding that the listeners will have differing 'tastes' & preferences of genres and style. To sing classical music at a rock concert and vice versa would not be appreciated by the audiences.

 

   An artist will chose different mediums for his/her work e.g. Oils, water colours, pastels and also select a compound on which to paint (e.g. canvas, card, glass, paper). These compounds provide differing textures, some are smooth, some course and not all are suited for all paint mediums.

 

   While it is the MDs task to blend the different musical parts in a harmonious fashion they must also consider the type or genre of song that is suitable for the voice(s) singing it i.e. a folk singer would not normally tackle an operatic aria nor a choir boy sing rock music.

 

   A further aspect of consideration then is the tonal quality of individual voices. When an artist mixes paint they seek consistency, lightening or darkening the colour to give different shades but keeping the colour true.  This maintenance of consistency is equally important in the tone of voices which presents a significant challenge to the MD. Prominent individual voices within a choir can be as obtrusive as a colour in the wrong place within a painting. Some adjustments can be obtained through volume control or positioning but the optimum solution is vocal technique to achieve tonal quality throughout the vocal range. A true test of a choir's vocal balance is to hear each part clearly but sounding as one chord. Singing in unison can often be easier to control but not give the 'depth of colour' to a piece that full harmony affords.

 

   An artist requires the paints to do what they demand, likewise Conductors need to be in control of their choirs or orchestras and that can only be achieved if they are following the 'brush strokes' of the baton.  Musicians practice on their own, getting to know the music and notes, rehearsing timings, learning words so that when they come together as an orchestra or choir they can be taught to blend.

 

written by MD William Thomas originally as a report for the 2015 AGM held in January

The Way We Were

Posted on 22nd February, 2015

   Did you look at the title and think "Memories"?  Well, that is the idea behind it.  If you didn't, then try "Memories, like the corners of my mind....."

   The choir is challenged with the goal of memorising every song in its current portfolio.  For someone who still can't seem to get the exact words for verse 2 of Barbara Ann correct with total confidence, you can imagine how much of a challenge this is!  Yet, "No more new pieces until we manage to do this", says MD, William. 

   While this is a tall order, the benefits are clear:

  •  We can all look at the conductor (if we are tall enough in some cases) during a performance.
  • At most venues there is little room for holding large folders as we sing
  • We can concentrate on the live performance, listening to the other parts and consider the words as we sing them
  • There is a feel good factor at knowing we can and are a better choir as a result

   These are some of the benefits for the choir.  You may think of more than these.  Please share via a comment.  But, I started to think about the wider benefits.  Most of the choir are (how to be PC and sensitive here) shall I say, at a stage in life where memory can be quite tricky.  This task may reignite a number of brain cells, or at least keep them working for a while longer.  To put it scientifically, memory training can stave off cognitive decline.

 

           

 

"Memory-forming can become a healthy lifelong habit. Researchers from the National Institute on Health and Ageing have found that adults who went through short bursts of memory training were better able to maintain higher cognitive functioning and everyday skills, even five years after going through the training. Practising memorization allowed the elderly adults to delay typical cognitive decline by seven to 14 years."

From www.bestonlinecolleges.com posted Monday July 23, 2012


             

    I often wonder why it is that the older we get the less inclined we become to take up new challenges.  Perhaps, as we succeed in memorising the words AND music of our portfolio, we will have the confidence to set other goals, try something new or accept change (e.g. technology) with less fear.

   So, let's embrace the challenge, get excited about being able to perform anything from our portfolio without dipping into our folders.  Let's get younger!