At home with Malone!

Choir member Tessa Rock shares her musical journey over the past 12 weeks with Gareth-The-Choir-Malone.

“Choirs are unfortunately one of the great super-spreaders of this nasty virus, so it’s very sad Royston Choral Society can’t meet at the moment. However, it’s been interesting trying to make choral music when you haven’t got a group of willing volunteers!
I was pleased at the start of lockdown to receive notice that Gareth Malone was to start a Great British Home Chorus. This started with about 140,000 people signing up; I’ll be interested to see how many singers eventually decide to upload their parts!

Gareth Malone started rehearsals in his own home studio and at first the recording quality due to numbers on YouTube was decidedly dicey. As the weeks have progressed, the quality and ease of rehearsals has vastly improved as we all get used to his style and he gets used to getting no feedback!
Although the music has not been hugely challenging in itself, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the warm-ups and tongue-twister scales we’ve done. I think it is particularly good for diction which is actually very important when singing in English.

I’ve also liked the special guests at the various rehearsals - from classical, musical theatre and pop culture backgrounds. For me, the highlight was the musical director of Hamilton whose tongue-twister exercises were virtually impossible; it really makes you appreciate the incredible diction that performers on the show need to have!

I also enjoyed Tom Chaplin from Keane who have a master class in tackling ‘Somewhere only we know.’ For once the soprano line has generally not been the tune, but has been harmony, which has been a rare treat. I’ve enjoyed practicing these with my daughter who also helped in the video and upload of the singing. It isn’t also necessary to do all of the rehearsals and you can dip in and out. Most days there are about 20,000 online at a live rehearsal. Now singing along to a silent backing track and recording it is a new experience. And trying to get it right in one take… Sounds easy? Well, it isn’t!

Gareth also asked us to think about where we took the videos [we were invited to submit] so I decided to branch out and create my own little video with our beautiful countryside which was especially right with the lyrics to ‘Somewhere only we know’ … “I walked across an empty land, I knew the pathway like the back of my hand..” Well it’s all uploaded now - can’t wait to see if some of it gets into any of the final cuts.

Tessa is not previewing her video, but you can find out more about Gareth Malone’s Great British Home Chorus here. Also, look out for Gareth Malone’s upcoming three-part TV series - The Choir; Singing for Britain - on BBC2.