Carolyn’s Notes for Virtual Rehearsal 6 – 12/5/20

Published on May 8, 2020,

Dear Choir members

Not only is this a very special day because of the VE celebrations, but it is also the 20th Anniversary of Alton Community Choir. So Happy Birthday to ACC!

This is our sixth weekly virtual rehearsal already so here are more songs and rounds to keep you singing!

Yet again it is divided into sections, with anecdotes in italics! But first on to the warm up:

Warm up
Shoulder rolls ending with a hunched gesture and dropping shoulders for perfect singing position i.e. weighted shoulders, straight back with head pulled up like puppet, tucked in tail and softened knees; good for that area where a lot of tension resides. Remember the most recent version of this exercise is: ‘forward, up, back and down’ rather than rolling the shoulders.

Again warm up with simple 4 notes ascending and descending scales to different vowel sounds. Important that as you go higher into head voice switch back to ‘oo’. Don’t forget working on your diaphragm. Inhale for 5 beats with your hand on your stomach, then blow out the breath in 4 short breaths and one long one. Or sing the first phrase of one of our songs but hold onto the last note for as long as your breath lasts. Then move onto the next phrase focusing on a good diaphragmatic breath before each phrase. Last week I gave you ‘Danger Men at Work’. To progress this try singing it to Hip-po-pot-a-mus! The trick is to sing the word as though it is two words i.e. Hippo Potamus!
Good luck! (Multi track sound files available).

Round: Now all the woods are waking

A round for Spring and linked in with bathing your face in the morning dew!
There are several Youtube clips but try to to sing it too slow. I think it deserves to be a bit upbeat and joyous! (Multi track sound files provided.)

Now all the woods are waking, The sun is riding high;
Wake up now! Get Up now! Before the dew is dry.


More snippets from the book I wrote for schools with Doc Rowe when I was Education Officer for the EFDSS. As I mentioned before Doc Rowe is a great authority on traditions of the British Isles so here is another bit about Garlands from that book called MAY.

“In many English villages children would parade with garlands of flowers, sometimes fastened to sticks or in the shape of a cross, or fixed to hoops. This was done in the hope of collecting money. Sometimes this was known as ‘May Dolling’ because often placed in the centre of the garland was a small doll.
The actual garlands vary a great deal in shape and size, from simple posies tied to long wands or flower chains wreathed around staves to very elaborate double or triple hoops covered with greenery and flowers.

Upon the First of May, With garlands fresh and gay
They nimbly their feet do ply In honour of th’ milking paile
(from the Milkmaids Life 1630)

A garland of a very different kind was paraded by the milkmaids of London. Their ‘Garland’ was an arrangement of trays, plates and other silverware sometimes carried for them by a porter. Frequently escorted by musicians, the milkmaids danced through the streets and would call at the houses of their regular customers to collect tips.

Song list

Hope you all enjoyed ‘Hal an Tow which again we can pick up when we all meet again! So again you can sing the other verses and see how they fit the metre and as before I would always recommend that everyone is familiar with the tunes of all of our songs before learning your own part.
Also recap the other songs from this term like Bushes and Briars and Cuckoo in April, Wild Geese, Harbour and Hal an Tow all now on the website for you to sing along to thanks to your various website operators! Here is another new song this week to keep you on your toes:

New Song: Drawing Nearer to the Merry Month of May

A lovely traditional song arranged by Anna Tabbush yet again; otherwise known as the Swinton May Song. Swinton is now part of Manchester I believe!

May Day was also observed by Chimney Sweeps as their holiday and they would parade through the streets. It became quite usual to see the Milkmaids and the Sweeps in procession with each other. (A wonderful painting of the Milkmaids’ Garland in the V&A clearly shows milkmaids dancing accompanied by two chimney sweeps and a peg-leg fiddler.)’

It was lovely to ‘meet up’ with so many members at the virtual café on Tuesday. It would be great to see more of you at any other future zoom gatherings. Meanwhile keep safe and well and we can Party! Party! Party! when we all meet again! Now, back to making face masks!

Can’t wait!

8 May 2020

Home Rehearsal Notes and Announcements Carolyn’s Notes for Virtual Rehearsal 6 – 12/5/20
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