Tag Archives: St George’s Choir

News from St George’s Choir

On 18th May Ian Church, Vice-Chairman of the Royal School of Church Music, paid us the compliment of coming to our choir practice.  He told us that we have a great responsibility; we are ‘ministers of music’, and our singing should reveal ‘a glimpse of God.’   The motto of the School is: ‘I will sing with the spirit and with the understanding also’.

Ian took the second half of the practice, showing us how to ‘sing with the spirit’, and bring glory to God with ‘energy’. He thinks it’s essential to start with a ‘warm up’. Our voices are our own personal instruments, and need exercising as much as athletes, dancers and footballers exercise their bodies.  The warm up creates an opportunity to say hello to each other.

So we stood up and did a lot of fun stretching exercises – standing on one leg and shaking the other, arms out and shaking the shoulders, singing The Grand Old Duke of York – clapping on the ‘ups’ and stamping on the ‘downs’, tongue twisters…you get the picture.  Then Ian handed us giant playing cards, and as he played the piano and sang a number, we held aloft the appropriate card.  Hilarious for all, especially the children, and quite a test of co-ordination for all of us.

To make sure we were completely uninhibited, Ian asked us to sing a line or two of ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’, and really ‘let rip’.  Quite a cacophony!  And then Ian led us in the Peruvian Gloria, with Margaret on drum.  The energy levels by then were extremely high!

Ian gave us all sort of advice on singing technique, such as first singing new hymns to ‘la’ while looking at the notes.  He said that every choir member must learn to read music.  Ian is Music Director of St John’s, West Byfleet, with a children’s and an adult choir.  He invited us to attend his choir practice at any time.

Since joining the choir just before Christmas,  William (Bill) Thomas has fulfilled many of the things Ian taught us.  On Trinity Sunday, Bill was presented with his certificate for completing the first ‘Singer’s workbook’ in the ‘Voice for Life’ scheme, making him a full member of St George’s Choir.  He also received ‘The Choristers’s Companion’ in recognition of his enormous enthusiasm, humour and commitment to the choir.

Ian continues to encourage us with suggestions by email, and it’s very nice to be called ‘a lovely group’!

Frances Whewell

St George’s Choir

In the last year St George’s choir has grown from three members to eight. (I include myself). At the choir’s request we now practise weekly instead of fortnightly, and so we can be a little more adventurous, tackling some simple anthems as well as hymns for Sunday. We are following the first ‘Voice for Life’ singer’s workbook, experienced singers and newcomers all learning and revising together.

I’ve never led a choir before, and I find it exhilarating to build it up and try out new music which will enhance the worship on Sundays by making ‘a joyful noise unto the Lord’, we hope! The new hymn books provide an opportunity to discover contemporary songs and new ways of singing the liturgy. But we have to tease out the musical tastes of all comers, so that faith is nurtured by the music, and nothing jars. Singing Taizé chants in Latin is not everyone’s cup of tea!

When inviting me to be organist in the parish Lesley and Alan didn’t enquire into the state of my soul! One of my main aims in life is to play the organ, and organs just happen to be in churches! Faith comes to me through the music, especially when it’s going well, and the music suits the service, and people are kind and encouraging, even when I’ve made mistakes. The Royal School of Church Music calls music ‘a sacramental language which ministers to us’. That’s how I see it.

Another quote from the RSCM magazine: “Singing does more than keep our spirits up: it joins us in the celestial harmony of faithful pilgrimage.’ That is our mission, to engender harmony in the relationships as well as the music of the church. Church music is the soundtrack to people’s lives – baptisms, weddings, and funerals all require this great gift of God to sooth, to calm, and to bring lasting joy.

Frances Whewell