I began life singing in folk clubs from age 13 and progressed to becoming a performer and fully professional at 26 years old. I perform as part of Blowzabella, Narthen, Voices at the Door and Moirai. I teach residential bespoke short courses as well as performing and am now, due to COVID, teaching online.
Current workshops take place via Zoom. They are in 4-part harmony either arranged by myself or by myself and others. Courses so far have included two sets of 4-part Sheffield, Derbyshire and beyond Christmas carols – those wonderful soaring ones that are less known but a total joy to sing – plus a post-Christmas course on Wassails. The next course will be Lincolnshire Folk Song.
I am planning further short courses in ‘Carols are not just for Christmas’, looking at the ones in the folk repertoire that feature at other times of year and related folk song, and also a course on ‘Songs of Our Times’ – political songs reflecting life as we know it. They last for one hour (or slightly longer) a week for four weeks with a minimum of four songs, as well as warm-up exercises, etc. I create recordings of the vocal ensembles from MP3s sent by participants so that the next time we sing we can actually feel like we’re in the room together.
I am self-taught in that I was brought up in a world where you stood up and sang or launched into a harmony. I learnt on the spot and in the room. I have read a lot about looking after your voice ad encourage all participants to do so and to participate fully in the joy of singing. We need it now more than ever before.
I sing in the polyphonic group ‘Voices at the Door’ who were Coope, Boyes and Simpson, Jo Freya, Fi Fraser and Georgina Boyes. The group now features Jim Causley in place of Lester Simpson.