Monday, June 17, 2019

Why alcohol and good singing don’t mix

Performing in public can be nerve-racking. Some singers have a drink to take the edge off their nerves.

But that often results in very bad singing. Here’s why should avoid it.

Monday, June 10, 2019

How to stand and sing without getting backache

I always encourage my singers to stand. It’s the most effective body position for singing.

However, some older singers or those with back problems can be resistant. Is it possible to stand and sing without getting backache?

Monday, June 03, 2019

How to adapt singing warm ups if you have limited mobility

Like many choir leaders, I get people to loosen up their bodies as well as their voices when preparing to sing (see Preparing to sing: what should a warm up consist of?).

But we also need to be aware of those who have limited mobility. Here are some ideas for making sure your warm up is as inclusive as possible.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Having a “no music day” can improve your music-making

I’ve just returned from a week away. During that time I heard virtually no music and didn’t sing a single note.

It got me thinking about how having a break from music can reinvigorate our music-making practice.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Choir leaders: how to give yourself a break and not feel guilty

We all need a break from time to time. Even choir leaders.

But some of us find it hard to prioritise downtime. Here are some ideas for how to take a break without feeling guilty.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Why I record the songs at the end of every singing workshop I lead

Some years ago I began to record the songs learnt at the end of each of my singing workshops.

Here’s why I continue to do it, and what the benefits are.

Monday, May 06, 2019

What to do with your hands while singing – 5 ideas for singers in choirs

If you’re not holding sheet music, what should you do with your hands while singing?

photo by mr. throk

This can be problematic in a choir. Here are some ideas.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Why ‘learning by rote’ can be an insult

Somebody asked on Facebook the other day for suitable songs to ‘learn by rote’.

I imagine they meant songs to ‘learn by ear’ rather than by reading sheet music. I must admit, I was insulted. Here’s why.

Monday, April 22, 2019

A little rant: don’t diss those who don’t read music

Somebody wrote to me recently about how other choir members look down on them because they don’t read music.

It made me very angry that this sort of thing is still happening.

Monday, April 15, 2019

How to warm up your voice on the bus (or any other public space)

Sometimes we don’t get the chance to do a full warm up in private before a performance.

photo by Justin Morgan

Here are some ideas for warming up your voice in public without drawing attention to yourself.

Monday, April 08, 2019

How to know which harmony part to sing – a guide for new singers

Many people who attend my choirs and singing workshops have either not sung since school or have never tried singing in harmony before.

I am often asked “Which part should I sing?” Here are a few ideas which might help new singers.

Monday, April 01, 2019

How to put on a successful concert 2: songs and concert structure

Last week we looked at planning and asked a series of questions like why? what for? when? who’s coming?

This week we’ll look at the how: how you actually put a concert of songs together.

Monday, March 25, 2019

How to put on a successful concert 1: planning

It seems such a straightforward idea: learn a bunch of songs then find some people to sing them to.

photo by Nick Youngson

But planning a successful concert involves a lot of planning. Here’s a guide to how you might approach it.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Why altos are often timid and nervous

Over the years I have noticed that the least confident part of my community choirs is often the alto section.

photo by simpleinsomnia

I can only speak from my own experience, but I’ve heard others tell similar stories. Why might this be?

Monday, March 11, 2019

How to keep your warm ups and singing sessions fresh and engaging

I teach singing workshops across the UK. I’m lucky to get a lot of the same singers turning up each time.

Which means that I can’t keep on using the same old jokes or worn out warm up routines. Here’s how I keep things fresh.

Monday, March 04, 2019

Learning songs by ear: what should you do while other parts are being taught?

When a harmony song is being taught by ear, you can find yourself not singing whilst other parts are being taught.

Rather then zoning out or getting bored, there are plenty of things you can do which can help your learning. Here are some of them.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Singing in harmony as a metaphor for life

Singing together is known to have many benefits, for both mental and physical well-being.

photo by William Murphy

But if we think about it, singing together is also a wonderful example of how to live a harmonious life. Here’s how singing in harmony can be seen as a metaphor for life.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Does singing have to have an end goal?

Some people sign up for classes because there’s a goal to work towards.

But surely it’s possible to do things just for the sake of it? Does singing always have to have a goal?

Monday, February 11, 2019

Feedback is vital – even when things are going well

If you’re like me, you read reviews on sites like TripAdvisor and Amazon before you buy.

But how many times do leave reviews yourself? For systems like this to work it’s important for everyone to give feedback, especially positive feedback. The same applies to choirs and singing.

Monday, February 04, 2019

When patience wears thin – 5 strategies for choir (and other) leaders

Patience is one of the most useful traits a choir leader can have.

But sometimes – despite your best efforts – you become impatient. What can you do to prevent taking it out on your singers?

Monday, January 28, 2019

Finding song information – Chinese whispers, wishful thinking and the oral tradition

I was choosing songs for a project the other day when I remembered one that I really liked from way back.

However, with a bit of further research I discovered that it was a very lewd song and not suitable. So how come girl guides all over the world are singing it?

Monday, January 21, 2019

Tell your choir leader what you’re struggling with, otherwise they can’t help you

Sometimes one section of the choir struggles with their part. I ask what the problem is, but am faced with a sea of blank faces.


If I don’t know what the difficulties are, I can’t help. Why won’t singers say why they’re struggling?

Monday, January 14, 2019

Where are all the birthday songs?

Today happens to be my birthday. Which got me thinking: how come most people in the world sing the same birthday song?

photo by Ed g2s

Where are all the other songs for birthdays?

Monday, January 07, 2019

Can you ‘be in the moment’ yet plan for the future?

There’s a lot of talk about ‘mindfulness’ these days. Of being present and in the moment.

Student expressions on the walls of the APEX center at the College of Wooster - APEX= Advising Planning Experiential learning

But if you are truly in the moment, how can you think about the future and plan ahead? Let’s look at this apparent contradiction.