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.
First of all, it’s not about getting a perfect rendition of the songs. If I were to do that, we would probably only learn one song in a day and spend most of the time polishing it.

The workshop would then become about product, rather than process. There’s also a very good chance it will stop being fun.

Here are my three reasons for recording songs at the end of each of my singing workshops.

1. learn fast, forget quickly

If you learn several songs in a day, maybe one an hour on average, you might learn five or six in a single workshop. It’s pretty much guaranteed that as soon as you leave to go home, all the songs will disappear from your head. When you get home and someone asks you what you’ve been doing all day, you’ll have no memory!

Having a recording sent to you a week after a singing workshop will remind you what you learnt. You’ll also have a record of what you did on that day. A bit like holiday snaps, but in sound.

2. you sound better than you think

When I first started recording at workshops, one participant wrote to me. She said that, although she’d been attending workshops for years, she’d never heard what the end result sounded like. Most importantly, she had never realised how good the group sound was.

When you stand in your part, it’s hard to get a sense of the overall sound. In some workshops, people are encouraged to take turns to stand in the middle to listen to the whole. But if there are 40 singers present, not everyone’s going to get the chance.

Getting a recording of all the songs you learnt is a great way to hear how all the harmonies fit together and to realise that, as a group, you sound much better than you probably thought.

3. revise your learning in a timely fashion

Research has shown that if you revise something you’re learning just at the point of forgetting, it’s more likely to stay with you as it goes into long-term memory. When you’re at a singing workshop, that means revising each song a few hours after you’ve learnt it. You’ll get a chance to go over your part again to remind you, then sing it together to cement it in your memory.

In a regular choir you’d repeat that process after a week, then after a few weeks, then every month or so until the song is bedded into your long-term memory.

By revising all the songs at the end of the workshop (and making a recording provides a great opportunity to do that, and to gives something to aim for), means they will stay with you longer.

the recording may not be the best version

It may be that the recording doesn’t capture the best version of the song that day. But that’s not the aim. It’s about the three benefits above, not about creating a perfect product.

What do you think about recording at the end of workshops? Has it happened at workshops you’ve attended? Do you find it useful? I’d love to hear from you.

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Chris Rowbury




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