Sunday, January 25, 2009

How to teach (and learn) a song by ear

the oral tradition

For thousands of years all over the world people have sung — to express joy, celebration and grief, to accompany work and devotion, to aid healing. People sung before writing was invented and before musical notation developed. People continue to sing in cultures where there is no written language. People were singing complex unaccompanied harmonies long before Western classical music evolved. Singing is a natural, joyous activity which anybody can do any time.

Long ago, all cultures were oral cultures: there were no books, no writing, no advertisements, no TV. All stories, songs, information, history, secrets, gossip, news, facts were passed on by word of mouth. From their birth babies would be exposed to the same old songs time and time again. They would become familiar with the sounds, feeling and context of the music long before they understood the lyrics or remembered the melodies. But slowly and surely they would begin to join in, and very soon they would know all the songs inside out. It was a very natural, but long drawn out process. Simply put: it was rote learning by repetition.

teaching by ear

When teaching a song by ear, you are trying to short-circuit this long process and compress it into a relatively few hours. So you need to be clear, precise and accurate whilst maintaining an atmosphere of concentration, relaxation and fun. Yes, people are drilling (like when you learn your times tables), but you need to make it a pleasure!

In this post, I’m assuming that you’ll be teaching a song in parts, i.e. with different harmonies, and that it will be unaccompanied, i.e. with no piano or recorded backing. I’m going to cover everything that I think is important, but not all of it will apply to you as everyone will be at a different stage and each group will have different abilities. So excuse me if you think I’m sometimes teaching my grandmother to suck eggs!

find your starting notes

Before you even start to teach a song, make sure your arrangement is within the range of the particular group you’re teaching it to. Then ensure that you have the starting notes for each part at hand (see: start as you mean to carry on). How will you find them? Make sure you have a piano or pitch pipes or a portable keyboard or a tuning fork or whatever else you need. There’s nothing worse for singers’ confidence if you pick a note out of the air and get the wrong one!

who starts?

There might be four or more parts to a song. Which is the best part to start with? It’s not necessarily the tune! If the group aren’t familiar with the song beforehand, then all the parts seem like the tune to them. Often the bass part is useful first as it anchors the song’s harmonies and/ or rhythm. Or perhaps you might start with the main tune and teach everybody so that they get all a sense of the song and its timing.

call and response

Basically teaching a song by ear is call and response. You sing out a line and the choir sing it back to you. The easiest songs to teach then are those which are call and response in any case. Many African songs fit this bill.

One thing that I hadn’t really thought through when I started my first choir way back when, was that I would have to sing solo in front of a group of people! This is something you’ll have to get used to as you’ll need to sing confidently and accurately whilst teaching. It will come in time, so if you are nervous, start with easy songs.

breaking the song into small chunks

One of the worst things you can do is to teach, say, the whole of the Alto part in one go, especially if it’s quite a long song. The other parts will get bored, lose concentration, and even worse, get the Alto part so solidly in their heads that when it comes to learning their own part, they’ll get very confused!

So you’ll need to break the song down into short, manageable chunks. Sometimes it is quite obvious where these chunks are. They often coincide with breathing points. But at other times, there is no obvious break, so you may not stop at a natural pause, but in the middle of a run. In this case, you will have to overlap the next chunk when you come to it so the join is made clear.

By choosing small chunks, you can get the harmonies up and running in a very short space of time. People will begin to feel they are all part of the song as it builds and they will get more satisfaction and fulfilment. Parts won’t get bored or tired hanging around. People will become familiar with the nature of the harmonies more quickly.

If you do have to teach a fairly long chunk to one part, then get the other parts to either hum their own harmony quietly at the same time or, if you’ve not come to their part yet, they can speak the words in rhythm quietly to get familiar with how they fit in. This will help stop the inevitable chit chat that can occur while teaching!

using hand signals

Not everyone learns in the same way. We have become a very visual culture and people are less accustomed to listening to things attentively. In which case, some people might initially find it hard to follow what you’re singing. It is useful to accompany your own singing with some kind of visual aid (no, not a musical score!).

The most obvious one is hand signals. Use the flat of your hand horizontal to the floor and move it up and down to correspond to the pitch going up and down. If you want to indicate a big jump in notes, then indicate a bigger gap between one hand position and the next. If you want to indicate a very small interval, i.e. a semitone, then maybe just incline the hand slightly to show the notes are very close together. The Kodály method takes this one step further and has a different hand shape for each note.

As an aside, it’s a good habit to learn to take nothing for granted. I was once teaching a song to someone using hand signals, but he looked very puzzled. “Why are you waving your hands in the air?” he asked. “When my hand goes up it means the note is higher and when my hand goes down it means it’s lower” I replied. “What do you mean ‘higher’ and ‘lower’?” he asked. Then I realised that it is just a convention that we have adopted. If someone is used to playing the piano, then high notes are to the right and low notes to the left, not higher and lower physically!

teaching separate choir parts

Each different part may require a slightly different tactic. There are different issues for a mixed choir if it’s a man or a woman leading. If a woman is teaching a mixed choir, then she probably won’t be able to reach the bass notes. When she sings the tenor line, the men in the tenor part might end up singing too low as they perceive her to be singing low in her own range. Correspondingly, if a man sings the tenor line at pitch, he might confuse the women in the tenors who perceive him to be singing high in his own range. You’ll need to adapt accordingly and respond to the particular group you’re working with.

You’ll also need to decide which order you teach the parts in. You’ve already decided which part to begin with, but which part is it best to teach next? You might also change the order as the song is built up. You need to adapt to each particular song.

where are the words?

For some simple call and response songs, you’ll not need to hand out lyrics. There are often very few words, and in any case, you sing them first and everyone else repeats them. However, if a song has lots of words, what do you do? One option is to put the words in large format up on the wall (see: the writing’s on the wall). This helps people to look up and to see you clearly. If you hand out lyrics, there is a danger that everyone buries their head in a piece of paper and stops paying attention!

This can’t be avoided though with songs that have many verses. I often teach a song just using the first verse words, then when the parts are under their belt, I hand out the full set of lyrics. This does have its own problems though.

beyond the first verse

If you keep rehearsing the first verse of a new song, people will struggle when it comes to subsequent verses (see: words are flowing out like endless rain ...). The words will be unfamiliar and they may have difficulty fitting them to the tune. However, if you overload people with too many words when they’re first learning the song, then it may become overwhelming and too difficult.

One solution is to teach the first line of each part, say, then to practice that melody with the first line of words for every verse before moving on.

There is a similar difficulty with teaching in small chunks. As you build the song up, the first chunk ends up being sung far more times than the last chunk. That means that the ends of verses are sometimes not learnt as fully as the beginnings. One trick that I use in subsequent sessions when learning a song is to build up the song backwards. i.e. sing the last chunk first, then add the one before it and so on until the whole song is sung.

it all takes time!

Some people believe that ‘real’ singers only have to hear a melody once then they can repeat it and have ‘learnt’ the song. When I tell them that professional singers take many months before a song is really under their belt, they are often surprised. As I mentioned at the start, we are trying to short-circuit a process which would have taken several years in our small community hundreds, or even thousands, of years ago. We would have heard and rehearsed the same song many, many times as we were growing up. Now we are expected to learn a song in just a few sessions!

When someone new joins the choir, I point this out to them and tell them that we will be returning to the song we are learning for many weeks. Even when we think we have learnt it, we will run through it each week until it sits comfortably inside us without having to think too much about it. We might do it in different ways each time, try it faster or slower, do it in an operatic style, build up the parts slowly from verse to verse. The more ways we can explore the song, the more likely it is to stick.


Chris Rowbury's website:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Taking care of ourselves as choir and workshop leaders

It’s a dark January evening. It’s cold and raining and we’re snuggled up in the warm eating our supper. But choir starts in half an hour and we have a drive or a walk which will take us to a dark, draughty hall which takes an age to heat up. It’s that time of year when everyone is feeling under the weather and there are lots of colds and sniffles about. We’d much, much rather stay at home and watch telly, but work beckons.

Of course, we are some of the lucky few who actually enjoy our jobs, don’t have to work in an office and are often free to organise our time as we want. It’s one of the best jobs in the world, and when the choir rev up and you are awash with glorious harmonies, your spirits lift, and you’re glad you managed to get out of your comfy chair to brave the cold.

Yet sometimes it can feel like: give, give, give! We might have a few workshops and/ or gigs in a row which all need a lot of preparation. We are beginning to feel like a song factory, churning stuff out at a prodigious rate. We’re trapped in an endless cycle of arrange, plan and deliver. We are tired, run ragged, bereft of new ideas, not sleeping and fighting off innumerable germs picked up in all the different venues that we work in. Although we are not irreplacable, we do have an important role. If we don’t turn up to a session, there’s often nobody else to lead it. If we aren’t there to conduct the concert, it may not go ahead. We sometimes soldier on even when we should be in bed nursing a cold.

Our job is demanding and we need to look after ourselves. Here are some tips to help you keep sane and well.

make time for you

You can make time for your work and prioritise things like cooking and doing the laundry, so why can’t you carve out some time just for you (see also Why we avoid things that make us feel good)? Make a deal with yourself to find some regular time on your own. During this time find pleasurable things to do, just for you:

  • relaxation (this does not include watching TV which is stimulus!);
  • meditation (mindfulness can help with physical and emotional tensions which may arise when working);
  • reading;
  • listening to music (how often do we do that outside work?);
  • taking a long hot bath;
  • treating yourself to a regular massage (go on, it’s worth it!);
  • going for a walk;
  • socialising after choir;

value yourself

Make sure you are adequately rewarded for the work that you do. The time and energy you put in adds up to far more than just that used during a session. A one-day workshop might use up three to four days of your time and physical energy. Factor that in when setting prices and allowing for recovery days.

feed yourself

Instead of giving all the time, make sure you do some receiving. You need to feed your mind and body (see make time for you above). Go on a course or learn a new skill. This doesn’t have to be music, although professional development can feed you also.

Instead of viewing the choir as something that needs feeding all the time, walk in and expect support from the group instead.

you’re not alone

You don’t have to do everything yourself! Don’t accept sole responsibility for everything that happens in a session. Allocate jobs to section leaders. Send parts off to rehearse separately. Set up a committee. Find a friend or buddy who can point out to you when you’re getting a bit too intense or manic in a session. It’s all too easy to get swept up in the moment, but you will feel drained at the end! Find a deputy and take a week off.

Cultivate a peer group network or set of professional buddies who you can meet with or phone on a regular basis to have a good moan, swap war stories, get ideas from.

don’t take it personally!

There is always that one person who gives us a funny look during the warm up, or tuts when we get a note wrong. Suddenly our confidence collapses and we become unduly affected by a single person’s negativity. Think of them as a mirror to an area of weakness that needs development. How can you learn from them? How can you reflect it back to them?

take care of your voice

You don’t have to sing at full volume all the time, even if you’re working with a large group. If you sing quietly, people will be more attentive (see Little voice).

If your voice is tired, try making a croaking noise like an old door opening. It will relax your vocal cords. Be mindful when teaching (see meditation in make time for you above). We often have the tendency to jut our chin forward when teaching!

you are only there to teach songs

Have a buffer between you and the choir, a kind of psychic barrier. You are not responsible for their welfare, their relationships, their problems – you are just there to teach songs!


We do a warm-up at the beginning of a session, but sometimes forget to do a warm-down at the end. This can help the transition back into everyday life. It can bring you down from the high that often comes in a session and help to stop you buzzing so much that you won’t sleep later!



Chris Rowbury's website:

New website design

Finally, after months of tinkering and learning new programming languages, I have got around to finishing my own website. Do drop by and take a look. I would love to hear your comments on design, usability, etc.

On the website you can find details of all my forthcoming workshops, together with details of other workshops that I offer and groups that I lead. I hope you enjoy it!


Chris Rowbury's website:

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Among friends: the importance of support networks

We are lucky that singing is a very social activity. Whether we are a choir leader or singer, we are amongst friends each week. But being the one out front can also be a lonely place.

Many creative people lead a fairly solitary existence — painters, writers, composers, for instance — and have to make an effort to meet with like-minded people. Choir leaders, however, have this built into their work. Each week we are in the company of a group of people with a shared purpose and love of music. We have fun together, we create together, we make mistakes together, we may even go for a drink together. Yet there is always a subtle difference between the person standing out the front waving their arms, and the singers who stand in close proximity to each other. And at the end of the rehearsal or concert, we leave alone. The buzz of the singing fades, the tiredness creeps upon us (after using all that energy), the sense of community dissipates.

It’s at times like these (or when arranging songs and researching songs at home, or struggling with how to teach a particular song, or when we’re dealing with awkward customers …) when we need a friend or colleague who we can talk to. Someone who really understands what we’re on about!

Last weekend was the Natural Voice Practitioners Network’s annual gathering near Sheffield. Around 70 voice practitioners come together each year to share skills, laughter, songs, ideas, war stories, and general gossip. Some of us are lucky to have other choir leaders living nearby and we can get together occasionally in order to have a good moan or to swap techniques. But others maybe only get the chance to meet friends and colleagues face to face once a year. It is an amazingly valuable time where we can let down our guard, own up to our insecurities, get help with problems, and generally talk shop.

For this reason alone, it is worth joining some kind of peer organisation or even to create an informal peer group. When our job involves giving out to others and supporting people most of the time, it is even more important to ensure we get nourishment and support for ourselves (I will cover this in more detail in next week’s post about looking after ourselves as choir leaders).

But it’s not just choir leaders who need support and who can feel isolated. Even in a big, happy group, there can be individual singers who feel alienated or overwhelmed. This is especially true for new choir members who are walking into what might be perceived as a big clique. daharja has written on her blog The Chorister recently about welcoming new choir members and how Happy choristers sing better.

So go out and find some new mates to talk shop and drink coffee with. Happy choir leaders lead choirs better!


Chris Rowbury's website:

Sunday, January 04, 2009

How to start your own community choir 10 — Case study: guest post from David Burbidge

As the 10th and final part of the series How to start your own community choir, I’m delighted to present a piece written by David Burbidge of Lakeland Voice (Please contact me if you are interested in writing a guest post in the future!). David is a long-standing Natural Voice Practitioner who runs several community choirs and other singing projects. Here are some of his thoughts on running community choirs.

I do all the admin for my groups and all the teaching.

Years ago I used to hire a lot of teachers and do all the admin myself but then I found I was inviting divas to swan up from the capitol who expected to receive all the glory, take all the money, and treat me like the household drudge. But strangely on a few occasions when I did some teaching for holiday centres abroad I found I was being paid very little on the grounds that I was really only one notch above being on holiday, and that it was the organisers who were doing all the work who should receive the lion’s share.

Now I do it all myself and nobody complains.

Privately run as opposed to run by arts centre

My local singing groups are mainly made up of singers who came through my local arts centre course Discover Your Voice for people who believe they can’t sing. Once they believe they can, they move on to my group Lakeland Voices. They then continue paying me roughly what they paid at the arts centre — although unlike there, I do allow people to come for one-offs, but of course they get a huge discount if they pay for the whole term which most of them do. I generally say it’s a 10 week term (as it is at the arts centre) — but there will be other free events, which most terms bring it to the equivalent of a 13 week term. This has the advantage of allowing late starters to pay for the full term and not feel that they’ve missed out.

Also because I run this group rather than the arts centre it means we can go on our outings to sing in candlelit caves and by waterfalls and up on the fells without the centre freaking out about their insurance (and lost revenue in their bars).

There isn’t a great deal of admin. I don’t need to advertise much as we’ve been going for about 10 years and word of mouth always works best — though I do put stuff on local websites. I have an email group which all the singers join (specifically for the choir) and I send them background information on the songs we sing with links to information on the internet, information on forthcoming events, words for the songs, some instruction on singing issues as they arise. I find this very useful as most people can’t take in all the information in a session along with learning new songs. I’m a fast touch typer so this doesn’t take long and I enjoy finding out about the songs for my own benefit.

Home learning

I make a learning CD which has about 30 of our songs on it which people buy for about cost price. Then by email I can let them know which ones to practice before the next session if they’ve learnt it before (or to familiarise themselves with it if they haven’t already learnt it) .

I also always invite them to ring me if they miss a class so I can sing their part down the phone so they can catch up. You’d think I’d be really abused with a system like that, but it’s very few people who do ring for this service and I’m always pleased when they do ring as it shows they are keen.

Other than that, I just keep a list of the names of those who have paid, how much they’ve paid, and a record of their contact details in case I have to cancel a session in an emergency.

Managing the space

I ask the whole group to help with chairs (as I do at concerts and public singing workshops. It takes about 3 minutes if everyone does something). Also I bring teas, coffees and biscuits and cakes and then ask for volunteers to help bring it out. At concerts we generally put it all onto trays and bring it round to the audience and sometimes those who are helping have just come for the concert.

We rent a lot of youth hostels (or rather independent hostels as the YHA has turned into some sort of dreadful B&B organisation) for our weekend events and there we follow the old youth hostel code of everyone mucking in together. Sometimes this works so well and there is such a spirit of cooperation I think it helps the singing, and the singing helps the participation. It also means that I can charge less as I don’t need to pay anyone. Sometimes some people don’t do their bit, but I’ve never heard anyone complain. With some groups I have done a rota which of course prevents the people who help being the same ones every time, but also I always feel a bit disappointed when I have to do this as it shows a lack of trust. Harmony singers are mostly good hearted responsible people. We have a lot of activists, pacifists, humanists, charity workers, environmentalists and if they are not when they start, generally go that way.

My ideal groups are those where everyone helps each other and the running of the event without needing to be asked (I say in the introduction that some assistance will be asked for). This works well with adults. I’m not sure it would be so successful with some of our younger youth groups though they usually have leaders with them anyway.

I have started using Lucia and Anika, first class cooks, for doing our meals. I used to just ask for volunteers which didn’t work so well (although sometimes did!). As I live with Lucia and Anika is my 22 month old daughter, this keeps it in the family.

I also only used to do vegetarian food, but since we’ve started doing all the exchanges with the Slovene choirs, and since the chairman of the Town Twinning Committee is the local butcher, and since the Slovenes won’t eat anything unless it was walking about and breathing, we’ve started doing meat dishes (or rather Lucia has) as well. I still find it all slightly repugnant. We always cater for other special needs.


I don’t work well on committees. I was in some NVPN committee once and missed most of the meetings, was late for the few I did attend, and then fell asleep when I was there, which is pretty par for the course re: committee meetings. So I now I don’t even try to be part of a committee. But I am impressed by those who do manage to work in this way.

So ... I’m not sure if what I lead is a community choir, probably not a Community Choir in the official sense of the word.

But I do have an open access policy which includes people who can only make it for one session, those who have never sung before, and those who don’t speak English (who we provide translation for). We learn all our songs by ear (although on some of my weekend events I do occasionally use written music, and certainly with the west gallery music) and sing songs from communities around the world where singing together in community is the norm. Occasionally I will email people the written music if they need it to learn the part but then insist that they don’t bring it to the session (and if they do, I very rudely take it off them!).

I am also completely unashamed at moving people around. So if we are learning a song which some people know and others don’t, I always ask who doesn’t know it? And then make sure they are sitting next to two people who do know it (when sitting in a circle this is easy to do — much harder if we were in rows). Also with beginners and the less confident who tend to sit on the edge of their part in the mistaken belief that this is like sitting at the back of the classroom where no one can hear them (but in reality is the most difficult place to be as they are now exposed to the singing of another part very near to them) — with them I will occasionally move them into the centre of their section. They worry that they will be putting people off if they are in the middle, but usually if they are supported by good singers (who tend to gravitate towards the middle of their part) they sing much better. We will often sit to learn longer songs, stand to sing them or to learn short rounds and move around as much as possible.

I don’t stop people talking when other parts are learning their part unless they are being very disruptive, or if that part is not very confident. And also I keep an eye out on new and vulnerable singers and make sure they are connected to others. New people I will always introduce the group to and them to the group and to individuals living near them, or who have similar interests.

We have an old man in our group who occasionally makes inappropriate comments perhaps of a slightly sexist nature, which the group usually ignores on the grounds that he is 80 and perhaps not likely to change. But once, we had learnt a round and were walking around the room singing it (in that milling about way we sometimes do) and I noticed a new singer who had her fingers in her ears so she could hear her own part and also noticed that the old man was purposefully singing very loud leaning towards here, not to help her but to distract her. So I shook my finger at him and he stopped. I guess what I’m saying is that I tend not to be an authoritarian unless it’s really needed (in my view that is!).

Leadership styles

Leaning towards a non authoritarian style of leadership has it’s problems in that sometimes we have people (usually men) in our groups who perceive the absence of a strong leader as a power vacuum that needs to be filled by them. I don’t mind this so much if they are really helping the group, and try and respect any useful intervention they might be making, but usually I find it highly irritating and find myself wanting to lock antlers with them. Strangely it happens less and less these days. Perhaps I have a clearer sense of my own authority now. With overt power struggles I always enlist the group asking them what they want. There are few people who engage in a power struggle who would demand that the group does what they want rather than what the majority of people in the group want.

We sing songs from around the world and host several visiting choirs and visitors from around the world. I do encourage as much interaction amongst the singers as possible and only feel responsible for teaching the songs and managing the space. For their emotional woes I encourage them to support each other (which of course they do).

Once we’ve learnt the songs, I then join the singers in the circle — either bass or tenor depending on who needs the most help. Sometimes the bigger group of basses need someone confident with the part as 10 basses singing the wrong notes can be worse than 2 tenors not being heard much. I only conduct if it’s needed — they seem to keep the time very well without me.

I suspect the quality of the teaching and the singing suffers because I have so many other roles in the group as well, although if I know the song really well, I find I can be incredibly distracted and still teach it well. I taught Nickomo’s four part arrangement ‘I am a River’ in the pouring rain on a walk down Dentdale besides the river Dee and while we were waiting for the Sportsman’s Inn to open (where we then sang it round the open fire along with other songs, before continuing our walk over Blea Moor via the Settle Carlisle line to Ribblehead, where we were staying).

Foreign tours

I have found on foreign tours that these work best with a well established group. Touring with VoiceMale in Slovenia this year was a dream. I couldn’t have hoped for a better group who loved everything we did and were full of praise for everything I organised (although I did get that old feeling of being the household drudge again — a rather unfortunate need for glory, I think. My friend Trudi tells me this is a male thing and is why women generally don’t fight in wars). We sang with several community choirs in Slovenia, performed concerts while the Queen was there (though our tickets had sold out so she couldn’t get a seat), went into schools and met singers there (and taught them to play conkers which we had strung before coming to the class and even primed some of them to break on the third or fourth hit). A wonderful event.

Conversely, the scratch choir I toured with in August which I led was more troublesome, with endless complaints about dogs barking, or that they couldn’t pitch from my portable Casio keyboard (which I only use for my own pitching!). Also terrible backseat driving (which VoiceMale didn’t have at all) as I was driving the minibus. And I now never lead groups at Christmas as I did one year. The emotional needs are just too much. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Ah, this is Tuckman’s theory of group process about how groups go through a storming period before they create norms and then perform.” And I think you’re right, hence why I prefer established groups to some extent. And of course there are things I can do to help that storming period through (but generally don’t).

Singing for singers

One other thing I find helps is to remember who the group is for and what they’ve come for.

When I worked as a journalist on a newspaper we were always being reminded by our editor to think of the readers. This is because many of us would just be writing for each other, for other journalists — that witty turn of phrase which does nothing to help the story but will get a good laff in the pub at lunchtime. So I tend to ask myself if I am choosing songs because that is what the singers will appreciate, or because I think they are clever. Sometimes I find teaching songs which most of the group already knows is very welcome by all the singers, even though I’m always thinking “Oh I can’t teach this one, she already knows this one.” If people do know songs, I try to respect this, and perhaps even ask them to help the others in their part with learning it. I don’t think people in the group mind having a little responsibility during the session as long as they are not overall responsible.

I love what I do and surprisingly make a living at it. Though people tell me that the minimum wage level of income I have at the moment won’t be enough when my daughter is no longer 22 months old but is demanding ponies and ballet lessons. I’m not really an anarchist and anyone coming to any of my groups would probably be very surprised to know that I hold any of the ideals of anarchism. But I do find that by having this at the back of my mind, that the best groups are unled ones, then it keeps me closer on course for leading the group in a way which is more about serving them and less about fulfilling my needs.

I often say to my groups (and I have heard this many times from other teachers as well) that harmony singing is the perfect model for democracy — that everyone is encouraged to be different, to be empowered in their difference, and it is that difference which creates a richer whole, and a whole where they fit in, rather than need to be separate in their difference. But musical directors are also a good model for dictatorship and autocracy with their need for absolute obedience from, and control of, the group.

I find it helps to remember that we work between these extremes.

David Burbidge

Smithy Cottage, Farfield, Sedbergh, Cumbria LA10 5LW, England

Email: Tel. 015396 21166

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“And this shall be for a bond between us: that we are of one blood you and I;
that we have cried peace to all and claimed fellowship with every living thing;
that we hate war and sloth and greed, and love fellowship ...
and that we shall go singing to the fashioning of a new world.”
William Morris


Chris Rowbury's website:

Happy new year!

I wish you all a joyous, happy and peaceful New Year.

May all your hopes and dreams come true
and may you find fulfilment in all that you do.
May your health and happiness be fulsome
and may all your aspirations and strivings succeed.
May all your plans and schemes come to fruition
and may all your sorrows and pains be insignificant.
May your material and spiritual wealth be boundless
and your disappointments few.

go to Chris Rowbury's website