A post about diversity

I’ve been thinking a lot about diversity recently. Some of this was prompted by an initiative we kicked off within the choir called 2020 Vision – the idea was to encourage everyone in the choir to share their dreams of what kind of choir we could be in ten years’ time. There were some really interesting thoughts shared about the lack of diversity in the choir and what we could do about it. Although the 2020 Vision project has been temporarily paused whilst we deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, the thought processes that it prompted have kept whirring. That’s been in the background; the event in the foreground right now is the murder of George Floyd, and our reactions to it.

BeVox has never had an explicit diversity statement. We believed that our ethos of inclusivity would be enough. Toni and I have always thought of ourselves as colour-blind when it comes to race (and gender-blind etc too) – we see people as human beings, not black women, white men, gay disabled people etc. We can now see that this is not enough, and it comes from a position of privilege. We can only afford to not care what gender someone is, what ethnic origin they are, what their sexual orientation is, because our choices are not constrained by our own race, gender, lack of disability etc. We don’t have the lived experience of people who are marginalised and oppressed because of these factors (or most of them, at least – Toni has some experience of this from a gender point of view). Turning a blind eye to it is not acceptable.

We have a lot to learn. We’re taking on that responsibility to educate ourselves, to learn about the experiences of people who don’t share our privilege, and to listen to those who are sharing their stories. As with everything we do, we want to become better at this.

One of the unexpected positives that has come out of our enforced retreat into isolation during the pandemic is that we’ve got the time to reflect on what we do, how we do it – even why we do it. There have been a number of things we’ve done as a choir that have been really positive – taking the time to really work on vocal technique, to spend time with every singer in one-to-one sessions, to celebrate our history through sing-alongs with past concerts etc. Our community has come together to support each other in new and glorious ways. We want to make sure we’re really capitalising on this opportunity to reflect on how we can be better – better leaders, better singers, better human beings. Once we’ve taken the time to learn more about what it means to be truly diverse, we intend to involve the whole choir in a discussion about how we translate those ideals into real action.

As I said, we have a lot to learn, and we intend to do just that. This will take time, and we ask for everyone’s patience while we work at getting better. We want diversity to become fundamental to who we are as a choir, not an after-thought or an optional extra. We need to involve our whole community in this, and we need to reach out to people who aren’t in our current community too. We need to ensure that everyone we work with, from venue staff to sound engineers, reflect our values. And we need to use our voices, not just to entertain, but to inform, to educate, to inspire. We will be silent no longer.

What a summer!

It’s been a really fun week – we had our end-of-season concerts on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, followed by a concert for Bolsover Parish Church yesterday afternoon. It’s the culmination of our summer season, our chance to share the music we’ve been making for the last twelve weeks with our friends, family and other guests. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and judging from the feedback we’ve received so far, so have our singers and audience members too!

When we were planning it, this season was meant to be a slightly easier ride than last season – we pushed ourselves hard for the Elemental concert, and we thought it would be a good idea to relax things a little this time around. That went out of the window pretty quickly though! The music was more complex than I’d originally intended, with wordy songs like “Windmills of your mind” and “Skid Row”, complex harmonies in things like “Blue skies”, stylistic challenges with “I won’t give up” and “The Greatest Showman medley” – it ended up being just as big a sing as last season was! Nevertheless, as ever, everyone rose to the challenge and we ended up with some really strong singing. Thank you to everyone who was a part of it along the way – both in the choir and in the audience.

Nottingham end-of-season

Our first full concert of the season was in Nottingham, and we returned to the Performing Arts building at Rushcliffe School. Everyone on stage did a grand job under challenging circumstances – probably the hottest room of the week, and the new addition of curtains all the way around the room also gave it a very dull acoustic. It took a little while to adapt, but as the concert went on, everyone raised their game all the way through to the finale. The end result was a mixed bag of a concert – a slow start, but a really strong finish, and I think everyone who was a part of it should be really proud of being able to push through the challenging situation and deliver something at that level.

Lincoln end-of-season

I don’t know about anyone else, but I had a slightly odd sensation going into the Epic Centre to set up for the concert – last time we were here was for Elemental, and it felt strange to be coming back to do a “normal” concert here, even though we’ve done so many times before. There must have been something in the air though, because the concert was electrifying. Singers from others areas who’d joined us in Lincoln were coming up to me in the interval and saying, “What’s happened? It feels like a different choir tonight!”. That’s the joy of live performance – you never know what’s going to happen until you start singing, and occasionally something really special comes together, for no particular reason at all! I loved being able to play with the songs and finding new subtleties in them – “Fields of gold” was a treat, with so many nuances it really came to life.

Sheffield end-of-season

Another hot room, another sell-out crowd – and another great concert. Having 110 singers on stage was always going to make a big sound, and it didn’t disappoint. We had a cracking reaction from the audience, and some really strong moments on stage too – I felt like I was on stage at a massive festival when we got to the final choruses of “You’re the voice”! The husband of one of our singers filmed the whole concert, so if you want to take a look, it’s on YouTube here.

Bolsover summer concert

Our (almost) final concert of the season was at Bolsover Parish Church, a venue that we’ve developed a great relationship with over the years, and a real treat to sing in. With just over forty singers, we made a great sound, and it echoed off the walls and up into the rafters – hurrah! The concert contained a very special moment for me: singing “Blue skies” with my beloved Grandma Joy in the audience. Joy introduced me to the music of Irving Berlin when I was really small, and her passion for his songs has stayed with me all these years. She went on to teach me music theory, and to encourage my development as a musician throughout my childhood, so it’s always a real thrill to be able to perform for her. It was also lovely to see a number of BeVox singers in the audience (as we’ve had at all the concerts this week) – it’s great that people want to support their fellow singers, and to see what all the fuss is about!


We have a few things coming up over the summer, with a summer singing day, our annual picnic, and (hopefully) singing at a wedding in Nottingham. We start sessions again in the middle of September, and we’re looking forward to that very much – some fun and interesting songs next season (see the full list here), and a return to The Octagon in Sheffield for our big concert. We’re also very close to releasing the DVD of Elemental, our unique concert from this spring – singers will be able to place pre-orders very soon indeed, then the DVD will go on general sale via our website in the Autumn. On top of all of that, we’re also getting very close to being able to announce our plans for our 10th anniversary celebrations next summer – watch this space!

Elemental: Reflections

For about the last year, Toni and I have been planning “Elemental”, our ground-breaking, multi-sensory themed concert experience. Since the beginning of the year, hundreds of BeVox singers have been working on the music. Countless hundreds of hours have been spent on the staging, lighting, sound design, videos and special effects. And it all came together in an utterly unique performance yesterday. In the immediate aftermath, I wanted to set down my thoughts and feelings about it all, and to share some of the feedback we’ve received.

From a personal point of view, yesterday was utterly incredible. I couldn’t be more proud of everyone who was a part of it, and I hope beyond hope that everyone is incredibly proud of themselves and what they achieved too. There were several moments, throughout the day, when I just couldn’t contain myself, and was either leaping up and down and giggling like an idiot, or so overwhelmed with emotion that I stopped conducting and just let the sound wash over me. So many things came together to cause those emotions – sometimes it was the relief when things that had been planned for so long finally came together, sometimes it was delight at how well the marriage of music and images, text and light all created something greater than the sum of its parts – but mostly, it was feeling that human connection with the emotions being felt by the 200+ people on stage. When we all pull together to create something, when we overcome difficulties to achieve a goal we’ve all been striving for – it all just feels so much more worthwhile. It was a joy to share it all with everyone, and I’m humbled by the dedication, support, professionalism and exuberance of this incredible choir. I truly feel that it’s a privilege to work with BeVox – I get such a buzz from it.

Toni and I have long believed that the most important thing we can do in life is to create special memories, for as many people as possible. It’s something we aim for personally as well as professionally – for instance, we don’t give each other gifts for our birthdays, we take each other to special places and share experiences instead, as we know these experiences will create memories that will last a lifetime. We still regularly reminisce about what we did for each other’s birthdays a decade ago! We think that this is a fundamental part of what we do with BeVox too – it should be about creating memories together, memories that we can treasure in the years to come. Elemental will live in people’s memories for a very long time, and that is a really special thing.

We’ve already had lots of feedback, both from audience members and from singers (and from some singers who were in the audience!), and it seems that the overwhelming response has been that this was a highly ambitious event, delivered at the highest level. Whilst Toni and I are very proud of our part in that (and we are truly thankful to all the people who have made comments about the work we put it), this was a team effort. No matter how impressive the videos, lighting, staging etc was, no matter how wildly I waved my arms, it wouldn’t have meant anything without the voices and passion of everyone on stage. Because of how technical the show was, it would have been easy to get hung up on the technicalities, and delivered a show that was impressive but that lacked heart. I don’t think anyone could say that Elemental lacked heart – it was dripping with emotion, and that came from the singers. I’d like to thank each and every one of them.

Whenever this whole project has felt too hard, whenever we’ve been struggling with the workload or the various challenges that arose (many of which were “behind the scenes” and no-one in the choir knows anything about), we’ve been sustained by a simple truth. We think of the singers of BeVox, and we know that they are sailing right behind us. Thank you.

Venue change, Lincoln, tonight (26th September 2018)

We’ve just been informed that we’ll be in the Old Hall at Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School again tonight, rather than the Main Hall. This is the same room we were in last week – it works well, so there’s no major problem being there, we just needed to let you know! We’ll do signs again to remind people of where to go. See you there!

Our approach to learning

I’ve always been passionate about learning. I think it’s one of the most important things we can do as human beings – acquire new knowledge, new skills, and hone what we do until we’re the best at it that we can be. Why settle for anything less?

I’m also fascinated by the ways in which we learn. Since we started BeVox back in 2010, I’ve experimented with different ways of working with the choir in order for us to learn – not just learning the music, but learning how to sing, how to perform, how to do everything we do. We’ve gone from a very “director-led” approach, where I taught every note to every part by rote, to a far more “singer-led” approach, where everyone learns the material themselves but turns to me to help when they’re struggling. I’m moving more and more down this route this season, and I’d like to explain a) what the end goal looks like, and b) why I’m heading there.

The model I’d like us, as a choir, to be working towards is fairly simple. We provide learning materials for the people who sing with us – sheet music and rehearsal tracks. For singers who aren’t completely new to us, these materials are available before the season even starts – sometimes as much as a month in advance. Right at the beginning of the season (or a little earlier if possible), I provide a “session plan” – showing which songs we’ll cover in each week of the season. In the first few sessions of the season, I’ll teach the songs using a “if you think you know how it goes, sing it, otherwise, listen to it being sung” approach. This enables people who can sight-read the music, or who have downloaded their rehearsal tracks in advance and done some work on the songs, to get stuck in straight away, whilst not leaving behind those who have joined us new and so haven’t had chance to look at the songs in advance.

After the first few weeks, when we no longer accept new singers, we move to a slightly different approach. Singers can learn the music themselves, using the rehearsal materials we provide (sheet music and rehearsal tracks). They come to the sessions with a reasonable knowledge of the song we’re about to start working on. In the session, we concentrate on putting the song together – singing one part against another, adding dynamics, phrasing, working on a blended sound, getting the right sound for the song etc. We can do more technique work too, applying vocal techniques to the songs we’re working on as the need for them becomes apparent.

A vital component of this process is for it to be “singer-led”. As we get to the point where singers are learning the music themselves, it’s really important that they are reflective about this – that they’re sufficiently engaged with the process to realise which bits they might need some extra help with. They can then come to the sessions armed with that knowledge, and begin by asking me for the help they need. This focusses our work in the sessions on the bits that actually need work, rather than spending time going over things that everyone has already got sorted out.

This will take a bit of a mental gear-shift from all of us. Our singers’ involvement in the process will be more active, and they will need to be engaged with their own learning. There’s a difference between having the CD on in the car and having a bit of a sing along with it, compared to focussing on learning the music (including making notes on which bits you haven’t quite got yet). This approach will ask more of our singers, and require a greater commitment on their part.

In return, there are great benefits to each singer, and to the choir as a whole. In the sessions, we’ll spend a lot less time “note-bashing”. This can be a tedious process (especially if I’m spending a lot of time with one part – all the other parts are not singing during this time, and it’s possible to spend a long time waiting for me to finish working with other parts). Spending more time singing should make the sessions even more fun. It will give greater satisfaction too, as whenever we take more responsibility for something, we get more satisfaction from it when it succeeds. It also means our singers will get the best out of me – the expertise I can bring to bear on shaping a performance to be the best it can be, rather than “just teaching the notes”. And finally, the standard of performance we give will improve as a result of all these things.

All of this stems from a fundamental belief I have about striving for excellence. As a leader, if I have low expectations of the people I’m working with, we will only ever meet them. If I have high expectations but don’t provide the necessary support, we are likely to fail. But if I have high expectations, and provide the necessary tools to support people striving for those expectations, we will soar. It isn’t always easy, and it takes hard work and commitment from everyone involved – but the result is something we can all be incredibly proud of.

Venue change, Lincoln, 19th September 2018

We’ve just been told that tonight’s session in Lincoln will be in the Old Hall, not the Main Hall. Use the main entrance to the school car park, around the front, and then go through the door in the middle of the big arches. Carry straight on and you’ll find the Old Hall. We’ll put signs up to guide you, and if you get lost, call my mobile (if you don’t have it, I’ll put it in the email I’m about to send to everyone in Lincoln!).

It’s not a mystery any more!

Yesterday was our Musical Mystery Tour – and what a day it was! Toni and I had been so excited (and nervous!) about the plans we’d made, and it was simply incredible to be there and see them all becoming real. It was a truly special day, in so many ways.


Here’s a quick breakdown of what actually happened:

  • Two different coaches picked up our guests from four different locations, and took different routes to our first destination – the Seacombe ferry terminal on the Wirral side of the Mersey
  • Everyone boarded the ferry and had a guided tour of the Mersey, ending at Pier Head ferry terminal in Liverpool
  • We sang “Ferry cross the Mersey” to a very appreciative crowd right outside the ferry terminal
  • We walked to Liverpool ONE shopping centre, where we had lunch
  • At the end of the lunch break, another choir did a flash mob – but then it turned into “Magical Mystery Tour” and we all joined in
  • We went to Liverpool Metropolitan Catholic Cathedral and sang a full concert to a good-sized local audience, with some of the Liverpudlian singers from the flash mob earlier joining the choir
  • We had a celebratory themed banquet in the Lutyens Crypt beneath the cathedral


Something Toni and I keep coming back to whenever we think about the trip is how much faith everyone had in us. When we first came up with the idea for the trip (inspired by a throwaway comment by my mum), we knew it was a really big ask – we were asking people to trust us to give them a day to remember, without knowing any of the details beforehand – and to pay for the privilege too! No-one will truly know just what an effect it has had on Toni and I, seeing over a hundred people display that level of trust in us. We’ll never take it for granted, and we’re forever grateful for it.


People often refer to BeVox as their “singing family”. I think this is true of most community singing groups – the bonds formed when people sing together are so strong, and BeVox is no exception. We love to include as many people as we can in our BeVox family, in lots of different ways, and the Mystery Tour certainly did that. We had our singers, from all the different areas we work in, and the friendships and camaraderie between them were a joy to behold, yet again. One of the things we love about our events is that we normally have singers from at least two, if not all three of our different geographical areas, and it’s great to see old friendships being renewed – people who only see each other at the end of each season asking after each other and sharing stories of what has happened in their lives since the last “big concert”.

For the Mystery Tour, we also had a number of guests – friends or family members of our singers, who were coming along for the ride, and to be our audience whenever we sang. We love spending time with the people who like to come and watch us perform – they are as much a part of the choir as those who sing, and everything we do relies on them being there to listen just as much as the singers being there to sing.

BeVox has family at its heart – in its most basic form, it’s run by the family that is Toni and me. My parents are massive supporters of the choir, as many of you know, and having them along as part of the Mystery Tour was very special. We included a bit more of my family too – the catering for our celebratory banquet at the end of the day was provided by Gravy & Custard, the catering firm run by my brother Dan and his partner Sam. I was thrilled to be able to work with them, and I know it made our parents very proud indeed.

We extended the BeVox singing spirit out to a wider family with this event too. We wanted the day to be full of surprises, and one of the most surprising things we can do as a choir is to do a flash mob. We thought about how we could integrate a flash mob into the day without giving anything away to our singers – and hit upon the idea of having ANOTHER choir do a flash mob, with our singers as the unsuspecting audience! So, over the last few months, we advertised and recruited singers from other choirs across Liverpool, and gave them the chance to form a “scratch choir” especially to join us for the Mystery Tour. We put together a “Liverpool medley”, consisting of songs made famous by artists from Liverpool, and rehearsed it in secret, before surprising the BeVox singers with a flash mob just as they were finishing lunch. Of course, we couldn’t resist the opportunity of getting the BeVox singers to join in with the flash mob, so the final song in the medley was our arrangement of “Magical Mystery Tour” – everyone entered into the spirit and joined in, essentially doing a flash mob without realising they were going to do one!

We were thrilled that the Liverpool singers wanted to play as big a part in the event as they could, so a significant number of them learnt our whole summer programme (in just two rehearsals!), and joined us for our big concert that afternoon – singing in the incredible setting of Liverpool Metropolitan Catholic Cathedral. The sound of 145 voices singing in that incredible building will stay with me for a very, very long time.


We thought it would be a great shame to put on a concert at the Cathedral and not use it as an opportunity to help support charitable causes in Liverpool, so we reached out to some Liverpudlian friends of ours to find out which charities would be dear to the hearts of a local audience. We then collected donations as part of our concert in the cathedral – and many of our singers generously donated too. As a result, we’ve raised £1,030, which we’ll split equally between Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, and Sunflowers, a charity supporting cancer patients in Merseyside.


Comments we’ve had from people who took part in the Mystery Tour have been overwhelming. Below are a few quotes to give you a flavour of how much fun we all had:

“What an amazing day yesterday in Liverpool. Huge thanks to BeVox for a fantastic experience being part of the flash mob and the scratch choir at the concert at the Metropolitan Cathedral. Everyone made us so welcome. Great experience and can’t wait to do it again.” – Julie, Liverpool singer

“What a wonderful day. A massive thank you to Tim and Toni for organising the whole day. A massive thank you to all the Liverpool singers who made our day so brilliant. Thank you, thank you!” – Anne, BeVox singer

“Thank you so much for a brilliant musical mystery tour. It was a fabulous day and your imagination, organisation and attention to detail was amazing and made the day so very special. The fantastic performance venue came as a complete surprise and certainly brought the ‘magical’ into the mystery tour. The impromptu flash mob was another highlight and as for the banquet, it was fantastic in terms of both the venue and the food.” – Sue, BeVox singer

“Just wanted to say a great big thank you to you both for such an amazing day yesterday! It was an experience I wouldn’t have missed for the world.  The flash mob was such fun and we were so lucky with the weather! Singing in the cathedral was a wonderful experience especially with so many great voices. It was very emotional. The banquet was a splendid way to round the whole day off. The food was absolutely delicious. It was lovely sitting and chatting to members of your choirs and sharing our musical stories!” – Gill, Liverpool singer

“Thank you so much for an unforgettable day in Liverpool yesterday. Fantastic surprises – much hilarity as usual – I had a wonderful time. Thank you for providing me with some opportunities and experiences I couldn’t have imagined having.” – Jill, BeVox singer

“It was a really phenomenal day, can’t remember when I last had a day that made so many memories! Every second was a joy; being flash-mobbed and  working with local singers was a master stroke – a real surprise in a day of surprises- even the weather knew it had to do its bit!!! As for singing in the cathedral- well, words fail me. To sing there was absolutely awesome, so special – goosebumps and even feeling a little bit tearful! The banquet was glorious- Dan’s food was absolutely delicious, and our table comprised entertaining and interesting new friends.  We had a ball!” – Lyn, BeVox singer


I’m collecting together as many videos of the various bits of the day as I can find and putting them all into one playlist on the BeVox YouTube channel. There are various other videos on Facebook, but they aren’t always publicly available – below is a link to everything I’ve currently found and have access to. I’ll continue to update this as I find more videos out there!

Musical Mystery Tour playlist

And finally…

As a number of people have commented, it took a lot of work and organisation to make a day like yesterday run so smoothly. Toni and I are both done in – but it was so worth it! We do love creating unique and unusual events – and we’re looking forward to our next one already…

Road closures near Rushcliffe School

We’ve just been notified that there are some road closures around Rushcliffe School tonight – access to the school is still possible, but you may need to take an alternative route. The map provided by Severn Trent Water is below:

Boundary Rd, West Bridgford, Nottingham NG2 7BZ, UK 6447187

It looks like the closure is on Boundary Road, between the entrance to the school and the exit – therefore, access from the Melton Road side looks possible, but it may not be possible to enter from the Loughborough Road side. We’d recommend approaching from the Melton Road end of Boundary Road to be sure.

Behind the scenes at BeVox: A week in the life (episode 3)

Part One of this post is here
Part Two of this post is here

Part Three: Mid-week – Session days

Tuesday 29th May: Backups, admin, Nottingham session

Up at 8:15am today, which is a little early for me, but I was awake so thought I ought to get up and get on with things. I’d had a minor nightmare about my computer crashing and deleting everything I’ve ever written, and it got me thinking about how I back up my work. Before I got my audio PC, all my data was stored on one computer, and I backed it up periodically to an external hard drive. I have to confess I didn’t do this as regularly as I should, and occasionally this caused problems. Since getting the new audio PC, I tried a different strategy for backing my data up, but it was quite a bit of faff, and I’d fallen out of the habit of backing up regularly. I took the hint from my mini-nightmare, and spent a little while researching good backup tools. Around 9am, I took the plunge and bought a license for an online backup system (Backblaze), installed it, and set it to work backing up all the data on my audio PC. It will take a few days for it to copy everything onto its remote servers, but at least then I can just let it run in the background, rather than having to remember to run a backup process regularly.

I got a call from our Nottingham venue around 9:30am, letting me know that the electrical work they’d scheduled for today had hit a problem, and there was not going to be any power in the main building for our session that evening. They’d let us know this was a possibility last week, and they had a contingency plan in place, which is what I’d emailed our Nottingham singers about the previous night. The plan was for the session to be moved to the Sixth Form Centre, rather than our usual room – apparently this might be a bit more “cosy”, but should still work for us. We’ll see how it pans out!

I went through the notes we took at our business meeting the day before so I could prioritise my “to do” list. There were some admin jobs that needed doing, such as working out the timings for the soloist auditions and sending them to people who were auditioning, and following up on some details with some of our suppliers for our Musical Mystery Tour event. These took me through to about 11am, then I went back to playing in the orchestral parts for the Les Mis medley. I finished the final pass of the string parts at 2pm, so took a break for lunch.

After lunch, I replied to a few emails, then jumped in the shower before heading off for the Nottingham session. We left the house at 3:45pm – a little earlier than usual, but that was to give us time to sort out putting up signposts at our Nottingham venue to direct people to our alternative location, and to sort out the seating. We got to the venue at 5:45pm, and spent 45 minutes getting everything ready, then the usual half-hour welcoming people and signing them in. The session ran 7pm to 9pm, and it was a tough one – the alternative venue was challenging to sing in, with poor acoustics and an amount of background noise, plus half-term meant we had lower attendance than usual. Everyone there put as much into it as they could, and we got some really useful work done, but it was still a hard session for everyone. We packed up and hit the road home by about 9:20pm, which meant we got home at 10:40pm. We were both tired, but also hungry, so we made some dinner and got to bed a little after midnight.

Wednesday 30th May: Admin, software update, Lincoln session

I was up and working by 11, and when I got up, I saw two Facebook posts on my phone that prompted action – one was from the husband of one of our singers, who had seen that a Classic Car Show had changed the date of their visit to Clumber Park, and it now coincided with our concert in the Chapel at Clumber Park. They’re expecting 10,000 visitors to the car show, so that could easily have an impact on our concert. I emailed our contact at the National Trust to see what we needed to do to ensure our concert would still run smoothly. The other thing I spotted on Facebook was that my music notation software, Dorico, had just been updated to version 2.0. This was exciting news – I hadn’t been expecting an update until the autumn, and there was an amount of new functionality included that I was waiting for. I paid the upgrade fee, downloaded it and installed it as soon as possible! The next hour or so was spent familiarising myself with some of the new features – just the ones that will be immediately useful to me, initially, although I’ll want to spend a significant amount of time exploring some of the other things when I have some “free time” (whatever that is!).

There was more admin to cover next, with a couple of people kindly volunteering to step down from concerts where we had an imbalance of voice parts. I allocated their places to singers on the reserve list, which moves those events closer to being well-balanced, and emailed the singers who had now got places on the events to tell them. I’d received a couple of invoices that needed paying, so I processed those, including logging all the details on our internal financial system so we can include the figures in our reporting to HMRC. My accountant had been in touch, reminding me we hadn’t paid his last invoice yet (oops!), so I quickly sent that payment too.

Lunch was calling at 2:45pm, so I stopped work on the admin. Straight after lunch I had a quick shower before we left for the Lincoln session at 4:30pm, getting to Lincoln at 6pm to set up, welcome everyone, and run the session from 7pm to 9pm. It was a good night, with everyone in fine humour! We were packed up by 9:15pm, but then we headed over to the local Tesco to do our weekly food shop (I know it sounds daft, but we like to do this after the session in Lincoln on a Wednesday night – it’s a better-stocked store than our local one, and it’s quiet at that time of night – plus it’s about the only point in the week when we can make the time to actually do some shopping!). Whilst Toni nipped round the shop, I took the opportunity to call my mum and dad for a catch-up. We were home for 11.15pm, and made a quick dinner which we ate in front of the telly. I had a few bits I wanted to catch up on after dinner – mainly reading more details about the new update to Dorico – so I eventually went to bed at 2.45am.

Thursday 31st May: Admin, backing tracks, Sheffield session

I was up and ready to go at 10:30am. I had some more admin to do first of all – various emails to send, and people to chase up. I also finished off the articles I’d been reading the previous night about Dorico – there’s a lot of new functionality in the upgrade, and it takes time to learn how to use it. By noon, I was ready for something more creative, so I went back to the Les Mis backing track. I’d earmarked Friday for writing my final Christmas arrangement (always good to have an uninterrupted day for writing), so I could work on bits and pieces throughout Thursday. I played in the majority of the percussion parts, which were a bit fiddly in places. I got so engrossed in the process, I didn’t surface for lunch until 3:15pm.

After lunch, I checked my emails before heading for the shower. We were on the road by just after 5pm, which got us to the venue at 6pm to set up. The session ran from 7pm to 9pm as usual, and there was some good singing, and a good atmosphere, even though the music was a bit stop/start – doing detailed work on tricky pieces like Scarborough Fair and Solsbury Hill is always tough, as I’m trying to balance the necessity for getting the small details in each part right against the need to keep everyone involved.

We were packed down and out of the venue for 9.15pm, and we went over the road for a quick drink and a bit of socialising with some of the Sheffield singers. We didn’t stay too long – out by 10pm, so we could be home for 10.45pm, in time to make some dinner. After dinner, I went back to my studio to finish off the percussion parts for the Les Mis backing track. I was enjoying the process, so I pushed on to start the brass parts too. I worked on these until 3.30am, then decided to call it a night – the brass parts weren’t quite finished, but I’d made a good start, and I knew I’d just get slower if I kept working when I was starting to get tired. I was planning to spend a good chunk of the following day writing the arrangement and orchestration for the final song in our autumn programme, but I knew I could always swap back to Les Mis if inspiration wasn’t striking. First job for tomorrow though – write the weekly email – which brings us round full circle on the week!


So, there you have it – a week in the life of BeVox, or at least from my perspective. I didn’t get chance to tell you about all the things that Toni got up to in the week, and of course I’m bound to miss a few things when trying to write it all down too. In total, if you include the time travelling to and from sessions, I worked about 74 hours this week – this is fractionally above average, but only by a small amount (last time I checked, I work an average of 71 hours each week). And of course, on top of all the things I’ve written down, I also somehow squeezed in the time to write this 5,000+ word blog series!