Continuing Professional Development for Choir Leaders

27–31 Aug 2020 / Republic of Ireland


Date: 27–31 Aug 2020

Cost: €449

Location: The Song House, Falcarragh, Co Donegal



Run by: Candy Verney

Further information:

Sadly this course is cancelled for August 2020. However we will repeat in 2021. Watch this space

with Candy Verney and Sophie Grimmer

Work on your choir leader skills. Work on your voice. Reconnect and recuperate on the Wild Atlantic Way.

This promises to be exciting and restorative with a high professional input from both teachers. Candy’s background is in community music, while Sophie’s is in opera performance, singing teaching and voice pedagogy research. Between us we can draw on extensive experience in diverse complementary fields to offer choir leaders professional support and further training in a wide range of topics.

Candy Verney has 35 years community music teaching experience:

  • Developing and teaching 7 community choirs over 25 years.
  • Making arrangements for choirs.
  • Work in schools, old people’s homes, early years,  the corporate world.
  • She has developed and facilitated a training in Community Choirs Leadership, now in its 13th year. Several past students have gone on to make this their full time profession, bringing this valuable work into school settings, old people’s homes, hospice work, community choirs, and working with refugees.
  • She has written 2 songbooks for early years children and their carers: The Singing Day, and the Singing Year, pub. Hawthorn Press.
  • She has written 2 books of songs for choirs: Songs for Life, co-written with Lindsey Williams, and The Song House Book of Irish Songs for Choirs.

Sophie Grimmer has worked with the voice for 30 years, in several different contexts:

  • International soloist in opera, oratorio and on concert platform.
  • Singer/actor with Simon McBurney’s Complicite.
  • Vocal professor at London conservatoire for 19 years (FHEA).
  • Runs private London studio for professional singers.
  • Guest director of devised group voice work at RADA.
  • Artistic director of intensive workshops for character development (from the inside out) with an emphasis on physical freedom and authentic expression through the voice.
  • Vocal consultant and voice teacher for NYCGB and Ingenium International Music Academy.
  • Creative director/soloist of music education outreach projects (in schools, adult education centres, prisons and hospitals).
  • Publisher of voice pedagogy research including book chapters and peer reviewed articles (eg. recent contribution to Oxford Handbook of Singing OUP 2019).

Specifically relating to this course, Sophie is committed to encouraging a profoundly compassionate approach to breath-work; investigating different ways of relating to airflow in order to support a more embodied relationship to singing. The aim of working in this way, bringing a friendly curiosity to internal mechanisms, is to help open up new ways of connecting to the voice, liberating its expression and enabling unhelpful ‘holdings’ to release. The more we are attuned to the internal kinaesthetic experience of singing, the more we can learn about what needs ‘doing’, but more importantly, what needs ‘undoing’, what can be released and liberated in the process. Though such investigations can be challenging, as we come up against our own vulnerabilities, discovering unnecessary tensions that restrict vocal function, the rewards are precious. By revealing more of our own truth to ourselves through singing, we can be more authentic in our communication and, in turn, feel more empowered to unite and be moved in community.

  • She will bring breath-related exercises and reflections into the choir sessions; the aim being to offer a safe and secure space for vocal exploration.
  • She is offering all participants an individual voice session, included in the cost of this course (additional sessions on offer, at extra cost).

Who is this course for?

  • You may have recently trained, and want to revisit basic skills learnt on your course.
  • You may have been working as a choir leader for years and need some refreshment and input.
  • You may want to work on your own voice.
  • We will be a small group with 2 trainers, max 12 students. So bring your individual questions and concerns and we will do our best to address them.

Topics to cover:

  • Develop your teaching skills: how to teach efficiently.
  • Work on reading music skills and sight singing.
  • How to develop a song, and enrich the experience for the singers. Some teachers are run ragged by the demands of having to keep on providing new material. We will look at techniques to work more deeply with a song. This can be more rewarding for everyone, and you as teacher can get off the treadmill of learning new songs.
  • How to write a good choral arrangement.
  • Choirs are communities that need care, input, leadership in order for them to thrive. This will be a place where you can talk over issues and problems in a confidential environment, to support your choir community to thrive and function well.