Dominic Ellis-Peckham leads the massed schools workshop. Image: Neil Pledger


A week after their staffing duties on NYCGB junior choir Spring courses, the Fellows were leading younger singers again.

NATHAN HARRISON

After a short break from the NYCGB junior choir courses in Oxfordshire, the Fellows met again for more workshop action, this time at Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall with NYCGB Assistant Music Director Dominic Ellis-Peckham.

We spent the morning rehearsing as an octet to prepare a short set to perform in a lunchtime concert following the workshop – mostly music by Parry (a couple of his 'Songs of Farewell'), but we’re also proud to have yet another arranger in the octet – Lizzy Humphries. Her arrangement of 'A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square' brought a swinging contrast to the rest of the set. Last but certainly not least, we couldn’t have finished the programme without Jacob’s arrangement of 'The Blooming Heather'. It’s proving to be a true showstopper!

We then met with Dominic to prepare for the day’s workshop, including warm-up ideas, and songs to teach including The Jacksons' 'Blame it on the Boogie', and MJ's 'Man in the Mirror'. 'Blame it on the Boogie' proved particularly rewarding, especially the jazz hands movement on "sunshine’" Hats off to Tom for his impeccable dance skills.

With no time to waste, quite literally, we gathered in the hall with Dominic to meet over 200 students, and teach them 10 minutes worth of music in under an hour! Easier said than done. But Dominic made it look like a breeze, and instantly got the attention of every pupil on the stage. One simple gesture for them to duplicate is enough to get them all engaged, followed by quirky ‘copy-cat’ ideas to keep them interested. For me, I enjoyed how Dominic was able to address the pupils when they were singing incorrectly by impersonating someone with a squeaky voice and awful posture (which made the pupils laugh too). To correct this, he bellowed like a caveman and stood tall. The improvement of the sound of the choir was staggering.

For one of our Fellows, Luke Mather, this was one of the best Fellowship days yet. Having only worked with Dominic in isolation, during ‘workshops on workshopping’, it was great to how all his ideas and plans mapped out in real workshop situations. Before the day began it was already over. A brief, but informative and successful experience for the Fellows, especially our own set during the concert. I think it’s safe to say we are definitely gelling as a group!