Love a quote from Dirty Dancing!
Today, I was singing Christmas songs with the University of Nottingham’s Kings Meadow Campus staff. We had a MASSIVE rehearsal studio, 13 singers and some tricky songs to master. Vicky Price who booked me in and masterminded the operation had told me that many singers were choir members and had sung previously, so could we please sing some tricky stuff. Amongst which I noted (with some eye widening) O holy night, Mary did you know and White Winter Hymnal. No! It’s not possible to teach all three to a group of ‘unknown’ singers in just 2 sessions!
Two of these songs I really don’t know well…. so I had to put my trust in the singers. They did a cracking job of O Holy Night and I think we can even squeeze in a little low harmony with the three handy guys we had join us. Mary Did You Know we had to leave until next time because we spent a LONG chunk of time learning White Winter Hymnal. Originally by the Fleet Foxes, we chose the Pentatonix four part acapella version. Now, I know this song inside out. I’ve sung it with a children’s choir, a previous community choir and with my current West Bridgford Liberty Singers. But its hard to teach, even though I’ve got audio recording for each part.
We really had to take our time. We broke into our groups and learned a little bit at a time. There was much patience needed as each part learned their bit, but we’d done quite a bit of singing up until this point and so I think some of them welcomed the break! Steadily we built up the parts adding more and more layers until we were able to give it a go on our own.
I often find it valuable for singers to hear themselves there and then, so I made a very rough recording and played it back to them. Success! Happy faces (and rightly so!) We only did the first section but it showed me what they were capable of. And I had been wrong to assume that because it’s a hard song, that they wouldn’t be able to manage to learn it in such a short space of time. They exceeded my expectations and were brilliant! Can’t wait to continue next time!