WW1 Sheffield Cares for the Wounded event

We had a great time singing for the opening of the “Sheffield Cares for the Wounded” exhibition at the University of Sheffield’s Medical School last night. Comments from the guests were uniformly positive, and we even have a few people who are thinking of joining us after hearing us sing. The event organisers sent a lovely thank you today, reproduced below:

Can you thank your lovely singers for the performances last night.  Many people told me how great the choir were and how much they set the atmosphere.  Our guest speaker particularly,  Mr Tom Scotland, was enthralled and despite being expected at dinner was insistent on staying on until you finished to give his thanks personally.

I was chatting with a few of the older guests afterwards, and they said that our singing brought back some really vivid memories for them, which was really touching. We also spoke to the University’s events manager, who was very impressed with us and has taken our details – she wants to use us for other events that the University arrange. All in all, a good night!

Thanks to everyone who came along, and to those who volunteered but who we couldn’t squeeze in. Thanks also to Susan for getting us in the invite in the first place – much appreciated.

Thank you

I feel the need to make a very public “thank you” to one of our singers. One of the things that Toni and I believe really strongly in is the importance of our singers having a voice in what we do. This should permeate every part of who we are as a choir – not just the planned things like song suggestions, but everything we do. We will always take a leadership position, making decisions on what to do that we think is in the best interests of the choir, but we can only do that wisely if we’re guided by the thoughts and views of our singers.

Mo got in touch with us a couple of weeks ago, with some feedback about the sessions. She felt as though they were becoming harder and harder work, and she wasn’t having half as much fun as she did when she started singing with us. I invited her to come and grab 5 minutes with me before the start of the next session, so we could chat about it. I wanted to get to the bottom of what was causing her unhappiness with the sessions, and she wanted me to understand it too. We had a good chat, and about halfway through it I had one of those “lightbulb coming on” moments. The problem was that I’d got so caught up in working on the detail of each song, I was kind of polishing everything as we went, without allowing any time to just enjoy singing. Taking that approach meant that the sessions were feeling like hard work – so much time focussing on small details and concentrating hard were making everything feel like being back at school (in a bad way). Mo understood that there’s a balance to be struck between just having a good old sing and striving for high standards, but she felt the balance was swinging too far one way. I promised her I’d take on board what she’d said, and try to rebalance things.

I reflected on these comments for a few days, and it changed my outlook on the weekly sessions. I threw myself into a slightly different approach – not actually skimping on the detail at all, but making sure that we did lots of singing things through. One thing I’d got caught up in was stopping whenever I heard a mistake, rather than singing through the section then going back to fix the mistake. I’ve made a conscious effort to change this, and the results have been immediate. The sessions have felt like a lot more fun – singers have commented to me on how much they’ve enjoyed the last session or two, and I’ve enjoyed them a lot more as well.

So – thanks Mo. Your comments came at just the right time, and they’ve made a difference to the whole choir. And if anyone else has any feedback about how we do things – please let us know – you might just make a big difference too.

Great weekend of performances

We spent Saturday in Nottingham, with two performances in two very different places. After a grand tour around the majority of the shopping centre, we took to the stage at the intu Victoria Centre and blasted out some crowd-pleasing favourites – a few from last season, and a few from this season too. The event organisers said afterwards that we’d attracted the largest crowd of the day, and it was clear from their reaction that they loved what we were doing. I particularly enjoyed “Happy”, as we got out amongst the crowd and got them involved too. It was great to see how people reacted to our slower number too – an impressive sound, matched by a real swell of applause. Great fun. Afterwards, I caught up with a couple of our singers who were doing their first ever performance with us, and their reaction was magical – they’d had such an incredible time, and were itching to do it all over again. That’s what it’s all about!

We then decamped to Bramcote Hills Park for the annual Hemlock Happening. It’s the third year that we’ve sung at this event, and this time they’d moved the main stage to be right in the middle of the action, rather than slightly tucked away. It made a big difference, with a great crowd assembled. I kept eyeing the skies nervously, as the torrential rain from earlier in the day kept threatening to resurface. We launched into our first song, “Mr Blue Sky”, the clouds parted, and we had glorious sunshine for the whole of our set! We couldn’t have planned it better!

It’s been really good to start getting some of this season’s songs out in front of the public – we can’t wait to do more. Our next full weekend of performing isn’t until the beginning of July, but then we’ll be singing the whole of this season’s programme – very exciting. We have a couple of smaller events before that, including a very prestigious invitation to provide the entertainment for a private event organised by Sheffield University. July is definitely concert season though – seven concerts in three weeks!