Sing-Appella Workshop January 2023

Type of post: Chorus news item
Sub-type: No sub-type
Posted By: Kathy Farrell
Status: Current
Date Posted: Sun, 5 Feb 2023

After meticulous planning, it was finally D-Day for our first event of 2023, and first learn-to-sing since COVID, our singing workshop: "Sing-Appella".

Hosted at John Cabot Academy which was a great venue for all our requirements, registration began early as even the delegates were excited to start the day. 17 delegates were all welcomed by our meeters & greeters, taking them through to the spacious hall, showing them the venue and introducing them to the chorus. There was just enough time to grab a tea from our refreshment area before beginning the day. 

The day began with the chorus performing Abba Medley to the delegates. A great up beat, feel good song to warm everyone up and get the energy buzzing. After the mandatory emergency procedures we enjoyed a great warmup (both physical and singing) from Noey and Sue.

Pete took the delegates through a vocal check and put each person with either the Leads, Tenors, Baritones or Basses. He then talked us through the 1st of 5 singing skills: posture, working on stance and head alignment so that when breathing from the diaphragm, the air flows up the wind pipe like a chimney.

Our first section breakouts followed as the delegates began learning the first quarter of our song for the day, Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. We came back together to sing the section we learnt. Then it was time for our first tea and coffee break and of course home made cakes made by our wonderful Black Sheep. 

We came back together to work on the 2nd singing skill, breathing. Pete talked through how posture impacts breath intake and expanding the rib cage. Taking these notes we took this learning and split into our sections again to learn the next quarter of the song. 

Before lunch we came back together again to sing the first half of the song. Pete taking a couple of sections through some difficult bars. We were all amazed at how well the delegates were coping with a tricky song and the sound being produced.

Now time for lunch! We all rendezvoused to the refreshment area (staff room) where there was a lot of chatting and laughter, getting to know our visitors, as well as enjoying some more cake. 

Coming back together in the hall the chorus gave a performance of Blackbird and then we began session 3, working on vocal production and resonance. Pete talked the delegates through mouth shaping to creat a full, rich sound. We split again to learn quarter 3 of Bohemian Rhapsody, returning to the hall to sing through what we had learnt so far. A more tricky section to learn but the delegates sounded really good. After slowly working on a few bars to align the sound we took a tea break.

After our mid afternoon break, Pete explored vowel and consonants skills. These help to carry the sound and convey meaning. Pete also discussed vowel matching which is so key for barbershop singing. He also mentioned skill 5, which helps to pull the other skills into line. To find out what this is, you'll have to book onto our next learn-to-sing event!

The final section rehearsal came and went so quickly. Finishing up on learning the final quarter and singing all the way through the song. Considering how intense day had been, the delegates were in great spirits and enjoying the learning process. 

We came back together for one last time. Pete took us all through the whole song, working on vowel matching in certain areas and then placing the chorus into a stack ready for the performance. 

With friends and family of the delegates in attendance we began the performance. The Songsmiths started us off, singing beautifully as always. Pete then discussed "What is Barbershop" where the Songsmiths and Black Sheep sang through Heart of my Heart.

Now, performance time for the delegates! We all took to the floor and Pete started us off singing Bohemian Rhapsody. The sound was great and the delegates put all they learnt into practice. When it finished, we were given a rapturous applause. The delegates then took their seats and Black Sheep gave a performance of some other songs. After another chance for everyone to sing Bohemian Rhapsody, each delegate was presented with a certificate. 

The delegates did amazingly well with a difficult song and with so much enthusiasm for singing. "God I'm Good" - in joke! An enjoyable day was had by all, filled with song and laughter. A huge thanks to Pete for his fantastic input into the day, and to all the other Sheep who played an instrumental part in organising the day. You are all fab-ewe-lous`!
Kate Swinscoe
More photos (screenshots from the video) can be found in our Photo Gallery HERE