Fellowship

Photo: Ben Tomlin


Friday 15th October 2021


FELLOWSHIP BLOG 2021 #4

Read Fellow Benedict Goodall’s first ever blog all about his experience of the Fellowship programme across ten months. Ben discusses his experiences of co-leading a webinar with Music Mark, staffing the Girls’ Choir residential courses and lots more.


I’ve never written a blog entry before. It’s something many people do, and do very well; for me, it’s new and exciting. It shows just how many opportunities the NYCGB Fellowship Programme gives to its participants. I feel so lucky to have done so much with NYCGB over the past ten months, and now it’s my turn to write a blog entry, I can look back on the past two months incredibly fondly at all I’ve done and accomplished.

Of all the brilliant events in which I’ve taken part, three of the most recent events stick out to me as ‘points of transformation’, not just for my musical career but in my self-discovery. Firstly, staffing the National Youth Girls’ Choir (B course) in August. I was very fortunate to grow up going to music courses all over Britain and Europe, and having now staffed a youth music course I have the deepest respect for all the staff. I think all of us Fellows came to staffing the courses not quite knowing exactly what we’d signed up for, and it was hard. But so, SO rewarding! The late nights looking after homesick children, sore feet from running between different sectionals, and mental exhaustion as we tried to rapidly learn from the phenomenal staff leading the courses. It was draining. However, nothing prepared me for just how powerful the final concert would be. Hearing the culmination of five days’ work, as the members sang their hearts out, having truly dedicated themselves to this course; it was so emotional, and I felt such a sense of pride having worked with such amazing young people, and such incredibly talented staff. I took away so much from the course – not just musically, but pastorally and emotionally. I can’t thank the staff team enough for their dedication, hard work and support, and I feel incredibly lucky to have been part of such a great team.

One of the things I was looking forward to developing through the Fellowship was how I led and interacted with youth ensembles, and how to get the best from young voices. The turning point in this for me was on Tuesday 7th September, when I co-led a webinar for Music Mark alongside the glorious Charlotte Brosnan. I remember – in our session in May with the awe-inspiring Suzzie Vango – I felt very out of my depth as we explored many methods for teaching songs and musicianship. This was mainly because it involved being rather silly and hoping people wouldn’t judge you for what you were doing. Well, that’s how I saw it. Of course, this wasn’t the case as all NYCGB spaces are so friendly, and such a safe space to be oneself and to let go. I felt a slight sense of this trepidation as Charlotte and I did a ‘dry run’ of our session at the VOCES8 Centre in London, before the cameras were switched on. But as soon as our livestream started, I let my guard down, felt completely at ease, trusted in what I’d learnt through NYCGB, and just had fun! It was such an enjoyable couple of hours, and I felt a real sense of pride doing what I love and representing NYCGB.

I was disappointed to not be able to attend the full ‘Discovery Weekend’ in September, when National Youth Choir recorded the Young Composers’ pieces, but I was so glad to be there for the first day, hearing the fruits of their labour. It’s been so inspiring working with the Young Composers and hearing about their compositions for the choir; Derri and I took a stroll around Magdalen College when he came to visit me in Oxford, and I felt very honoured and humbled to have such meaningful conversations about such personal thoughts.

While I was unable to sing for the recording days, it’s been a true privilege seeing how the pieces have transformed, and particularly how the composers responded to the feedback from the choir in the Summer. I think the four Young Composers, and my three fellow Fellows are a true testament to the incredible talent there is in the UK, and I feel truly honoured to have worked with them, and with the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain.