Singing New Light

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Today one of the choirs I am in sang at a local school for “sing up day”. We sang some a capella songs from Loud Mouth Women’s reportoir and also “New light ” a new anthem based on “this little light of mine” composed and written by Greg Stephens and Steven Seabridge (the potteries poet laureate).

It was a pleasure to sing infront of a full school assembly. The children joined in and even did some of the gestures for the song. I hope they enjoyed it, although some of the little ones seemed a bit perplexed by what we were doing at first.

One of the teachers is a member of the choir and enthusiastically explained what we were doing, and Penny Vincent (who helped organised Stoke Sings choir festival in February) and Kate Bardfield, our choir leader, helped teach the children some of the song including sections of”this little light of mine” and adapted versions of this and a section about the six towns, Burslem, Tunstall, Hanley, Stoke, Fenton and Longton.

The anthem talks about coal mining and hard clay. It talks about regeneration and a feeling that the city of Stoke-on-Trent is worth fighting for. It was a very enjoyable occasion.

 

Choir practice

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Singing is part if my life now. I started singing lessons about 15 years ago then joined a choir a few years later. I met a variety of people who loved music and I was swept along. We were all interested in learning music from around the world and the group learned acapella songs by heart so that we don’t need sheet music.

Singing calms me down, excites me, can be really irritating when it’s something I don’t like, or enthralling when it’s something new or an old song I love but had never previously learnt fully.

After being a choir member over several years I joined another choir so now I go and practice at least twice a week. Sometimes I join other groups and sing with them too.

I also try and sing when there are music nights at pubs. It has helped my confidence and calmed my nerves. Without it I don’t think I would have got involved in amateur dramatics. If there is a group in your area why not join?

Dawn chorus

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It’s twenty to five in the morning and I can hear birds singing outside on this cold February morning. We have been feeding the birds over the winter and last week my partner invested in an extra long bird feeding tube to accommodate them.

We have had house sparrows  blackbirds, blue tits and great tits  robins, and a tiny wren visiting the feeders. There are also wood pigeons and a collared dove that visits and a grey squirrel that hangs upside down from a branch and takes food from the feeders too.

When a blackbird sings its usually on top of the neighbours chimney or high in the branches of a tree. You can tell the age of a blackbird by its song. As it gets older the song becomes longer and has less repeats in it. Robins are also beautiful singers with sweet liquid notes which are a high volume considering how small they are. The other tiny birds make less interesting cheep cheep or tsee tsee songs, one makes a teecher teecher song, and there are individual whistles and tunes. There are sometimes magpies which chatter away. I always know if the blackbirds have been disturbed because they make a loud pink pink pink noise to confuse predators such as cats.

In fact urban birds are apparently louder singers because of having to sing above traffic noise.

This year we have bought an extra nest box and placed it in the ivy next to the window. This offers cool shade when the sun gets hot in the spring..

Well I go back to bed now as the chorus seems to have died down. Other early things happening are blue bells coming into flower in February (they are in a box by the house) there must be a bit of a microclimate  but everything, including the temperature, seems too soon this year. Maybe it’s to do with the jet stream and global warming?

The boatband

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After the panto we went over to the local alehouse where the boatband were playing. They play a mix of sea shanties, cajun and creole music together with other 20th century music. Listening to them playing guitar, fiddle, trombone, accordion and washboard was great. One of their members is missing but I only took one photo before my phone went flat. There is always a request to sing during the interval so I sang “molly malone”, but because I had got really tired from the panto performance I could not remember all the words and had to be prompted… How Ironic…!

Anyway that was a long evening. Not sure when I will get up in the morning. The panto continues on Friday (today) and Saturday.

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Wassailing

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Wassailing is a tradition to celebrate the New year. People would go from door to door  knocking on them to rouse their occupants.

The local Morris Dancing troupe started to organise Penkhull Wassail a few years ago. Our Choir joined in and now quite a lot of people walk around the boundaries of penkhull with lighted (flaming) torches. We visit an ancient apple tree in a garden nearby, the Morris dancers dance and we get a drink of hot cider.. Then we continue around and sing and dance outside the local pubs.. . Just for fun. We end up at the local village hall for soup. Sometimes we stop for a barn dance afterwards.

We sing various songs including the Penkhull Wassail and the Gower and the Gloucester Wassail.

I guess some of the songs will be on YouTube.

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Community Spirit

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Five public houses, one private house and a Christmas tree…. What do they have in common? We went Carol singing around them with the Penkhull Mystery singers last night.

From wassail songs, Latin carols, ancient hyms and fairytail of New York… We sang so much last night. Its becoming a local tradition to visit all the hostelries to sing to the locals and collect funds for the Penkhull Mystery play in the summer. Its a difficult way of doing it because it relies on the number of people in the pubs and we outnumbered everybody in each of the pubs. But it was fun! Singing the Holly and the Ivy in four part harmony, or Good King Wenseslas with the men and women split into parts. And we sounded good. We are becoming more balanced as a choir. More choral.

After the New Year the choir splits back up. It’s made up of members of two Choirs and other members who just get together for this. But the cameraderie will remain.

I’m looking forward to next year when we do it all again.

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I forgot

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I was out at the pub tonight at our local folk bands monthly visit. They usually play till about 10pm then they go round the room asking whether you want to sing a song or read out a pot!!

Well it was getting towards me. I was going to sing Laras song from Dr Jivago? I looked up the Lyrics. It seemed OK. Just sing and remember. I started, and ground to a halt. I could not remember the music or the song. Next time I will try and sing again. But tonight was bad….