aea181dadc47ed5aff1e2b97ae5dafdcWith only a week to go until the course, here are a few more tips from Angela.

HD: We always start the weekend with warm up exercises. Are these something we should do whenever we’re going to sing for some time, even at home?

AK: Well, a few exercises are good to help with technique, even with how you should stand. More than anything, they’re a mental thing to get you out of still being stuck in the traffic jam, or some other stress, and ready to sing. At a rehearsal you’ve got to feel differently from how you would were you sat at your desk or trying to get the kids to have a bath. With a big choir, if the singers have been practising on their own, then even just a few warm up exercises, say singing arpeggios that sound nice, help people to think, ‘Ah, that sounds ok, this is going to be good.’ It gets them in the right frame of mind.

HD: Some warm up exercises seem to be more about relaxation than voice production.

AK: If people are all tense [Ang makes sounds of fear and panic], they can’t make a nice sound, so you want to calm them so the sound that comes out is rich and encouraging.

HD: How should we make the most of the rehearsal time in the course?

Angela and her younger daughter, Sarah, rehearsing solo sections of Pergolesi's Magnificat

Angela and her younger daughter, Sarah, rehearsing the solo parts of Pergolesi’s Magnificat

AK: When I sing with a choir, I really enjoy just trying to sing my part in my head, or hum it very quietly, against another part that’s being practised, just to see if I can fit it in, find my notes. So when, as conductor, I’m rehearsing a particular part that’s not yours, say the tenors, you should be following the tenor part and looking how your part fits in with it. Unfortunately, many people just switch off – or talk – and think it’s nothing to do with them, whereas they could be… you can be… rehearsing all the time, even when you’re not singing.

HD: When there’s a new entry, coming in can be quite scary, could you give us some tips about that?

AK: Well, people get really panicky about the note to come in on, but if they’ve learnt it properly, they’ll instinctively come in on the right one. When it gets into your brain, it’s just there. It can make life too complicated if you’re looking at other parts, thinking the note you want is in the bass line, etc. It’ll be too late because the entry will have gone in a flash. In Classical composers [like Beethoven] and Baroque composers, to a certain extent Romantic, the harmonic structure is such that the note you come in on is unlikely to be way out, it will fit, you’ll get a feel for it.

To give confidence, I do try, don’t always succeed, to look at parts to prepare them that they’re coming in and give them a signal, whereas if people have got their head in their copies worrying that they’ll miss the entry, they probably will! Then it’s hard to get back in – you can have lost it for a long time.

HD: So some of it’s about looking ahead. Sometimes I extend the music lines at the end of a page and write in what’s coming next, especially if it’s the final note of a phrase, or a new entry that starts a the top of the next page.

AK: Yes, so that you’re not caught out. Or you could just put the note you’re going to come in on and the word. In some of the scores, when we look at them after a concert, there’s tiny writing in them that singers were probably trying to read during the performance, and wondering what it was they’d written. By then they would have missed what they were supposed to be singing. If you’re going to write something in, and I really hope you will, write it big enough to read, and big enough to read without holding your copy under your nose!

We hope you’re enjoying rehearsing. We’re really looking forward to next weekend, when it will all come together. It’s going to be great.

(The other parts of this Missa Solemnis series can be found here, here and here.)

There will be a wonderful concert in Beeston Parish Church tomorrow, Saturday 16 January, 7.30pm. Four Music for Everyone groups join together to perform a programme of classical music spanning more than 300 years. The most recent composition, Flame, by Ben Parry, was written in 2012 and inspired by the concept of the Olympic torch. Tickets will be available on the door. Come by tram, bus or car, but arrive early for the best seats as the New Year concert is popular. Participating are Nottingham Youth Voices, the East Midland Youth String Orchestra, East of England Singers and the New Classical Players. Composers include Handel, Mozart, Brahms, Bizet, Pergolesi, Holst and Parry. Hope to see you there.




Two hundred instrumentalists from Nottinghamshire and beyond gathered in the Albert Hall for a day of blowing the dust off their musical instruments. Participants of wide ranging experience played music selected and arranged for differing tastes and abilities.

There were more flautists than seats on a double decker bus, tootling beautifully, fine woodwind and brass sections, strings playing sensitively or with gusto (all those notes, and so fast!), and a trio of percussionists with sticks in mouths and/or on drums, triangles, cymbals and all sort. In another room the recorder group practised away on all five sizes of recorder, from sopranino to bass.

DSC01451Angela Kay, Gill Henshaw and Chris McDouall conducted different groupings of instruments. An informal concert, performed to an appreciative audience, concluded the day.

Repertoire included music for strings alone, for concert band, full orchestra, and for recorder group. The varied programme took us from Dowland to Bernstein, Elgar to Pirates of the Caribbean and, of course, Hucknall’s very own Eric Coates.

Blow the Dust will be back later in the year, so polish your trumpet, rosin your bow, search out your recorder etc. Whatever you play, there’ll be a part waiting for you.

For more photos, see Music for Everyone’s Facebook page.





If you missed Part 1 click here, and if you missed Part 2 click here. (But do come back for Part 3!)

Sectional Rehearsals and Pencils

HD: Tell us a little about the sectional rehearsals this week.

AK: Well hopefully, if people have looked at their parts beforehand and marked them up, the sectionals will help everyone make more sense of it all, which will make it easier to rehearse a bit more before the course.

HD: So it helps us to identify the difficult bits?

AK: Yes, we will also work on those on the course when it’s all put together. We’re going to have some sectional rehearsals within the course this time, too.

HD: When we register at the course, we’re always given an MfE pencil. What do you hope we’ll do with it?

AK: (Sharp intake of breath) Use it to put in words of wisdom from me (laughs) and highlight bits you know you’ll need to look at yourself later. I put those as a list at the front [of my score].

HD: I put a cross at the top of the pages where I go wrong.

AK: Yes, people have different ways.

HD: When there’s a tricky page turn, I find it helps write the first notes of the new page at the bottom of the previous page – extend the lines, write in the notes and the words.



AK: Yes!

AK: Things to write in during the course will be dynamics – I might put in different ones from the score, or you’ll need to put a ring round those that are there so as not to miss them. I might shorten a note, so that needs to be marked, as does where to put the final consonant. Then there’s marks where to breathe and where not to breathe. People think they’ll remember, but they won’t be able to, not when they’re in a concert situation. There you need as many props as possible to keep you on the straight and narrow.

HD: Perhaps some people think they’re not very good if they need to write a lot in.

AK: Which is absolute rubbish.

HD: Remember that clarinettist’s score at the Summer School? It was covered in markings.

AK: The best people assiduously put everything in.

HD: So would you recommend writing in the beats of a bar in some places? I find it helps me to count rests especially.

AK: Oh yes. You just need to put beats in to make it easier for yourself, and maybe an ‘and’, like 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +, especially for off the beat, syncopated sections. The notes are important, of course they are, but it’s the rhythm that’s more important, because if the rhythm’s not there, you haven’t got a hope.

(AK starts singing a few bars. Very nice.)

Sectional rehearsal are THIS WEEK. Thursday for the tenors and basses, Friday for sopranos and altos, both at NTU Clifton Site, 7.30pm.