After our singing workshop with Robert Dean

on .

Jilly's JottingsAfter our Singing Skills workshop with Robert Dean on 14 November (10am to 4.30pm)

About 120 members of the Mixed Voice Choir and Ladies Choir braved the elements to attend the Singing Skills Workshop at Weybridge Hall.

It was free to all members - thanks to generous donations and sponsors. The Workshop was given by Robert Dean who has had a distinguished musical career as accompanist, opera singer, composer and conductor as well as being in demand as a vocal coach.

It was a wild and blustery day and, to make it worse, the heating in the Hall had broken down, so many of us sat for the whole day with our coats on! However, we were not allowed to sit and shiver. No - we had to stand up a lot, breathe in and out, raise our soft palates, roll our R's, touch our noses and chins with our tongues, breathe through our feet, push out our chests, open up our bodies and wave our arms around a la Pavarotti, chew the cud, chew straw in a cornfield and make many unusual noises - mostly vowel sounds as we had never heard them pronounced before - and remembering 'Who would know aught of art must learn and then take his ease' as a key sentence incorporating all the vowel sounds.

We were told to think of a song as a series of hurdles and to look ahead all the time, to think of the voice as a ping pong ball balanced on a jet of water and never to sing louder than lovely. With all this in mind, we worked our way through 'Holy Night, Silent Night' and ended with a complete sing through of it in readiness for the Christmas Concert on 12 December at The Theatre, Leatherhead.

Robert uses his own background as an opera singer to help with the technical aspects of choral singing and energise choirs into more vivacious performances. I think we all felt that he had succeeded in this with us. His own rich baritone voice and sense of humour contributed to a most enjoyable, entertaining and educational day. Let's hope that we can continue to put into practice what we have learnt.

A few days after our Christmas Concert, Robert Dean will be conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus at the Royal Albert Hall - I wonder whether he will be comparing us favourably with them - and maybe one day, if we put into practice what we have been taught, we too will be singing at the Royal Albert Hall!





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