Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Songs for Retirement a success.

The Hamilton Chorale sang four of the six song in the Jubilación Suite: Songs for Retirement at the concert on November 12th and 13th in Hamilton, New Zealand. The choir enjoyed the songs, and gave unsolicited feedback to this effect, which was very satisfying.

The songs can be viewed on Youtube . International viewers have found the lyrics not completely clear, but New Zealanders should find it easier.

I am looking to extend my singing teaching via skype in 2012. This will enable me to travel and help Retirement Villages to set up choirs and get the multiple benefits that this will bring. MY current skype students find it an excellent way of learning singing, with no travel costs or time, or having to be away from children in the evenings and getting a sitter. It is especially good for those away from cities, who would be putting in travel time, and its related costs.

In the meantime I will be working through the process to get The Jubilación Suite published in the USA, and in New Zealand as well.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday November 8th

My days are filling up.
On Thursday October 27th I started a 7-week singing workshop, through Continuing Education at The University of Waikato, using my old classroom. It is the first workshop I have run since 2005, prior to which I ran them annually. The demand disappeared, but this workshop series came because of requests to work with me, which is pleasing. Now a workshop is being planned for Tauranga, at the beginning of 2012

At the second workshop last week, I had one of those events which I value greatly, because of its effect. One of the women hardly sang. At the end of session, I asked her to stay, she said it wasn't important, I told her it was why I was here, and because she had enrolled in the w'shop it WAS important. Once again, a thoughtless teacher, decades ago told her that she couldn't sing. I showed her what she could do, and gave her the exercise to 'exorcize' that strong memory. The exercise is to sing 'you were wrong, you stole my voice, and now I am taking it back', to any made-up tune. I did this with her, and she sang more and more strongly back to me.

The Hamilton Chorale are enjoying the songs that I have composed which they are singing. Unsolicited comments in Facebook include: "
I really like your compositions for our Hamilton Chorale to sing in these upcoming concerts. I am enjoying practising them at home.", "I am enjoying them too - the tunes keep going round and round in my head when I am not thinking about them!" I played them to my 32-yr-old son and he laughed, said he was surprised at the content, but loved it. Tomorrow night I will ask the choir for permission to video the Sunday performance of the pieces, so that I can post them on Youtube, and then sent the site to my USA contacts.

I have a contact who is going to take my skype singing proposal to the national managers meeting for REAP. Barry was a co-teacher with me at Tauhara College (1985 - 1992), so he can also speak personally about me, and my teaching and musicality.

This week I will finalise all of the music for the 8 - 80 concert for the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2012. I have auditioned, and had the first rehearsal with the children. Today I will finish recording the songs for the '80' singers to have on c.d. to practice, and tomorrow I should receive the disc for the children's songs, and will do the same for them. Today and also tomorrow I want also to sort out who sings what in the combined songs and get that into a score for both of the groups.

When I want a break from that, I will record some backing tracks for my skype students (from last night's teaching) to practice along to :-)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Spring is bringing more of the work I love.

With the change in the weather, and the oncoming end of year, it is time to be putting things in place for 2012. I have sent feelers out to rural radio stations, and rural education access branches here in New Zealand, and in Australia, for teaching singing to individuals, families, and groups via skype. I have one 'client' where the son has a 10 minute session, the daughter has a 10 minute session and Mum has a 40 minute lesson. They live on a farm, an hour's drive away form their nearest good-sized city. I have a student in Melbourne. He has his lesson at 10a.m. and for me it is midday.

I enrolled a new face-t0-face student this week, a lovely voice, very musical it is going to be such fun working with him. In addition I started the vocal techniques workshop series last night at Waikato University and it was over subscribed, (just by 1), so good for all the participants, as well as financially for me. What a blast! The workshop went very well, so much laughter, so many finding out that those who said they could not sing were wrong!! The workshop was due to finish 8.30, I sent them home at 8.40 and spent the next 15 minutes answering questions. Given that as soon as people sing they feel good, the euphoria was not just because of my teaching and empowering, I know that :-) Nevertheless extremely satisfying!!

Seven of the Hilda Ross Glee Club have expressed a desire to sing in the 8 - 80 concert, and the whole of the Vision Forest Lake Senior singers have done likewise. I have my 80 choir. Two days of auditions at Rotokauri Scholo resulted in 18 singers being selected, but at present it is almost all the young ones; 16 of them are aged 9 or younger, and the school has children up to the age of 12. I am back for a final audition time next Monday, then it will be preparation of music and CDs for them all to work on learning the music. I will be taking singing sessions with the children four or five times before the end of the year, working on vocal technique as well as learning the songs.

It is time to get back onto the retirement village companies about choirs for 2012. Watch this space.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Great Resolution to the problem

Having prayed about it, I let God guide my mind and actions, and felt at peace completely during last Thursday's regular rehearsal time with the Hilda Ross Glee Club

Because some of the singers arrive late, for many reason I though it unwise to discuss at the beginning, and so we sang for about 15 minutes, which by the very nature of singing put every one in a positive place.

I then told them that I accepted their decision, but the consequence was that the Hilda Ross Glee Club would not be the '80' choir. However any of those in the Glee Club who wanted could join the choir that I would be putting together to sing the songs. The general response was that they thought that might be the case, so it was not unexpected.

However the next part of the discussion went far better than I thought it would. The question was "does that mean the end of Glee Club?" and the response was that everyone wanted to continue. Furthermore the Festival choir will rehearse outside of Glee Club time, so it is business as usual, and I left with three songs that they have selected to add to their repertoire.

On Friday (the next day) I saw the Vision Forest Lake Singers and told them that they would be invited to join the '80' choir, and I may well have enough singers from these two village choirs to make up the festival choir. I am praising God for good resolution to what was a very vexing situation.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

October 12th

The choir has received my letter, and the feedback is that their decision has not changed. I am looking for the wisdom of Solomon on this one.
Options, as I see it:
  1. Find a new theme for the concert and risk them rejecting that repertoire as well, now that they have been empowered to.
  2. Give all future selection of repertoire over to Glee Club, to source for themselves.
  3. Invite those who will sing the repertoire to join singers from the other two choirs with whom I work, to form the 80 choir (of the 8 - 80 ensemble)
  4. Pass on the whole task to one of the other choirs.
The contract is to be signed today for the concert, and it is 4 1/2 months away, so there is time to do any of the above.

I audition the children of the '8' choir during the first week back on the Tuesday and Wednesday, and have the first rehearsal with them on the Friday of that week.

On a much brighter note, I have completed four of the compositions that I plan to write, and they are in the hands of the Hamilton Chorale to be sung at the concerts the weekend of Nov 12/13. They are reasonably simple songs, written for people aged 70 plus to be able to sing in parts. I will get feedback from the Chorale on how they enjoy (or don't) singing them, and send that along with the final editing of the compositions.

Lots going on: a singing student via skype in Melbourne has just joined my studio, and I am running singing workshops for 8 weeks for Waikato University Continuing Education also during the fourth term.

Monday, October 3, 2011

October 3rd, watch this space!

So much changes and so much stays the same.
I have lost a number of singing students, all for valid reasons, the latest because he got into the rowing team, which practices every afternoon, so no time to practice or for lessons, others for family reasons, and so on.
However in the last two days I have had four potential students contact me so that is very encouraging.

I have a choir in revolt, which I have never experienced before, so am needing the wisdom of Solomon to resolve this situation. The 8 - 80 choir has been accepted for the programme of the Hamilton Gardens Summer Arts Festival 2o13, with a theme of 'Our Music'. My thoughts, as concert planner, was to use some of the best Music Hall songs for the Glee Club, and songs from Kiwi Kids Songs for the children, and songs in an as yet undecided style for their combined songs. I gave a copy of the index of the Music Hall Songs to the Glee Club, and they have decided that they are old songs, and they do not want to sing old songs. No doubt many conversations occurred, and I have even had a long letter, nicely written about how much I am appreciated, but how much they do NOT want to sing these songs. This was before they even got to look at the selection.

I have decided to write an open letter in response to them. I missed last week's rehearsal, where no doubt more discussion occurred, and will miss this week's as well with out-of-town responsibilties. A good chat with my business manager this morning helped me clarify what I need to say to them, and possible ways forward. I will let you know what happens. :-)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

More progress on The Silver Sing

I was in Wellington for the New Zealand Chorale Federation executive meeting. I attended Wellington Anglican Cathedral in the morning, and who should be leading the intercessory prayer, but John Collyns, the CEO of the Retirement Villages Association. Calling him was on my plan for the beginning of this week, but this meeting was indeed fortuitous as we discussed the concept which I was developing for bringing together senior choirs in a festival. John and his team had discussed this some time ago, and were waiting for a catalyst to get it going. I am the catalyst. (This is my summary of the discussion :-))

I was able to take this concept to the NZCF meeting. The reason for naming it the Silver Sing is that the New Zealand Chorale Federation run an annual: Kid's Sing, (for primary and intermediate school children), the Big Sing (for secondary school choirs) the Classic Sing (for community choirs) and the Silver Sing fits that well-accepted set of festivals.

The plan is to formulate the festival through this year, including :
  • supporting existing choirs, and starting new ones, in villages.
  • getting information out to community choirs who have a preponderance of retired people as members.
  • working out the relationships between the RVA, NZCF, and Harmonic Health.
  • Deciding the parameters of the choir membership that will qualify them to sing in the Silver Sing (age range, average age, minimum/maximum number of singers, etc)
The current plan is for the festival to happen in Spring 2013

It is going to be an exciting time, which will naturally enhance my opportunity to see my passion come to fruition: to see more and more high quality outcome choirs established in villages throughout New Zealand, and then further abroad!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

8 - 80 Concert is on for 2012!!

It is now a fixture for the Hamilton Gardens Summer Arts festival. For the third year in a row, the 8 - 80 choirs will be performing. I have just sent a proposal to the Rotokauri School. Given my new status as self-employed, costs will need to be covered, so it will be interesting to see how they respond.

I intend to audition singers, and give them CDs and music to learn songs independently, before rehearsing every two weeks during the 4th term for 1 hr after school.

The Hilda Ross Glee Club are not yet aware of the approval for the concert, I will talk with them about that this coming week.

It is very exciting and also quite daunting as it involves a lot of work, but it is what I love doing, and showcases the amazing outcomes that are possible for both the children and the seniors

Wonderful Concerts

August 6th and 7th were the latest concert series for the Hamilton Chorale, of whom I am the musical director and conductor. Once again the choir rose to the occasion. Great tone, variety of styles, animated faces, clear words, very entertaining. Our guests were the Mighty River Harmony, the barbershop chorus who are going to compete in Brisbane in September. On Saturday we had the whole chorus, on Sunday what they call a 'large quintet' being 15 singers on the four parts. Entertaining indeed, with an age range of 69 years. However I was able to report that we had an age range of 74 years. Young Sam, who is 10 yrs old had been attending rehearsal with his mother, and when invited to sing along he readily said yes, and was singing the second soprano part with his mother. Ken, one of our Tenors turned '21 for the fourth time' earlier this year, and there are at least four other octogenarians in the choir. I cannot be sure, as singing helps to keep people alert and there may be some who are chronologically older than I think.

For an un-auditioned choir they are exceptional; they work hard, they are very responsive and willing to learn. They bring much pleasure: to each other, to the audiences and to me.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Commercially Sensitive

I enjoyed writing that post title, as I am now in serious negotiations with a company.

Initial meeting was to occur at the RVA conference, but that ended up not being possible.

Meeting was set up for 3.45 yesterday (Friday June 24th), but by 4.30 and no-show, and with guidance from my business wise, and savvy, business manager, I 'pursued' my appointment eventually to the Hamilton airport, and had a very productive 30 minutes.

Thanks again to my business manager's direction, Matt Jackson I had a lot of paperwork already prepared, so talked generally, and left him all the paperwork to peruse, either on the plane or back at his home base. Having missed my presentation at the RVA conference, I had it on my memory stick on my keyring, and it was downloaded to his computer to view, complete with all video.

I look forward to the ongoing dialogue. Life is good :-)

RVA Conference feedback.

Dear Julie

A quick note to thank you very much for your outstanding presentation to our conference last week. The feedback has been universally positive and it seems that people actually enjoyed having a singalong as part of it! I also hope that you will get some new business from the event because, having been part of the Wellington Orpheus for years, there’s no doubt that choirs benefit residents (and everyone).

I would be grateful if you could send me a copy of your presentation please as the technician didn’t actually keep a copy.

Thanks once again for your part in making our event the success it was.

Kind regards

John Collyns
Executive Director
Retirement Villages Association
P O Box 25-022
Panama St

The RVA Conference, June 13 - 15, Langham Hotel.

I drove to Auckland to arrive, after the rush-hour, on Tuesday, Some excellent presentations:

1. The National Bank chief economist, who was able to paint a picture of slow improvement, such as the fact that external debt has dropped from 92% of GDP to 80%.

2.from Colin James, and very astute political commentator who has called 13 of the last 14 general election party results correctly. He was not wiling to call this weekend's Te Tai Tokerau election.

3. Diana Crossan the Retirement commissioner, who became somewhat controversial with the presentation of a research report that was plainly flawed, as evidenced by the president of the Retirement Villages association, after Diana's presentation.

4.Cam Ansell, from the Australian RVA association. New Zealand is much lest regulated that Australia.Proportion of people in retirement villages in Australia=5% in the USA=12%

Cam also introduced the U-bend of happiness which is an interesting read, as this re-enforced the presentation I missed first thing on Tuesday, where the speaker was talking about the fact that the only thing that matters is how happy people are.

Wednesday started with a gifted speaker
1. Amanda Stevens talking about marketing to women. An entertaining and very informative presentation, I would be happy to hear her speak again.
2. Jeremy Simpson on investing in retirement living. His bottom line was that people are prepared to pay for quality.

My presentation @ 2.30p.m. followed on from some rather dry presentations and went as well as I could possibly have expected. In addition to getting all of my material across, including video of participants' comments, and video of the Hilda Ross Glee Club's performance level from initial standard in 2006, to the 8 - 80 showstoppers concert in February this year. I concluded with getting them all to stand and sing, and the feedback given via conference feedback was that they enjoyed the chance to sing!!

My next post will be John Collyns feedback email to me. It was a MOST worthwhile event for me!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday June 10th

Excellent session this morning with the Vision Forest Lake group, nearly 20 of them this morning. We are planning a concert for August 19th at 4.30, to which both village residents and members of the public will be invited.
I am excited about this group, because they are already singing in parts as they choose, and in a small part of improvisation today, some were able to harmonise very nicely. There were five good male singers as well, I am not sure what the total is as it was only my second session with them.
They are eminently teachable, and today we talked about posture and how it improves breathing, and sense of well-being, along with singing on vowels and not rushing to the end consonant.
They will definitely be the choir on which I will be able to trial and record some of my compositions, and now that I have a group to focus on the composing will move on quite considerably. The recordings and scores will then be on their way to Roy Ernst in the New Horizons organisation, who told me that there were no compositions for this era of choral singers.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

An excellent week

On Friday I had my first session with the Senior Singers at Vision Forest Lake. A small group of about 12 were there, with winter illnesses etc keeping some away. I will be working to recruit more singers, especially with the changed rehearsal time from Monday to Friday.

On Thursday I had the first session with the young woman I met in the Uni cafe, it went well, and I will enjoy working with her. I popped into the same cafe two days ago (using up $1 coffee vouchers) and met up with Carl who used to sing in the Tauhara Consort at Tauhara College about 20yrs ago. He is now on the Faculty in Education, and had make murmurs about singing lessons before I left last year. He will start July 1st.

I did some more work this week on sorting out my home studio, and am pleased with how that is going.

But the crowning event for the week was the letter I received this morning. It reads as follows:

Dear Julie
I write to extend our thanks for your enthusiasm, and encouragement in the establishment of our Senior Singers group 18 months ago. From the time of your visit in 2009 the group has grown "like a mushroom", from 8 - 12, to 35 dedicated members (including 4 basses and 3 tenors).

You will be pleased to hear the choir received the Award for Arts and Culture in the Waipa/Trustpower Community Services awards recently, together with a framed certificate and a generous cheque, which has been a lifeline, financially.

There have been great reports of health benefits, particularly of course respiratory problems & memory/concentration enhancement.

We appreciate your participation in the founding of a most enjoyable musical & social activity for older people in our community.

Sincere Regards
Glenys Waterhouse F.T.C.L.
Regards also from Helen Lloyd (piano)

If you click on "St Andrew's Senior Singers" in the labels, you will find out the event to which Glenys refers :-)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Business is Growing

Last week I met with the leaders of the Senior Singers at the Vision Forest Lake retirement village, and I will be taking over the musical directions of this ensemble at the beginning of June. This will be exciting, as they will be able to be the trial group for the compositions that I want to write for publication via the New Horizons network in the USA. Already in this group the members enjoy singing in parts, so the music can be a little challenging, as well as being entertaining and enjoyable.

On June 13th I am presenting at the Retirement Villages Association Annual Conference, to 150 - 200 village owners, managers, and developers. My business manager will be there with me, and I will be able to take evidence from both of my New Zealand village based choirs, as well as evidence gathered from my time in the USA and in England.

Last week I took on another singing student (actually two sister, 10 & 13, who are coming for lessons together) and today I met up, by pure chance with another potential new singing student.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A new branch to my business

The use of the speaking voice, and "affect display" (what you look like, face and posture) were the focus of a two-lecture series that I gave to 4th yr engineering students last week at the University of Waikato. This was at the invitation of the Dean, Professor Janis Swan, subsequent to the presentation I gave on this topic at a Women in Leadership day just a few weeks before I left the University last October. Informal feedback on the interactive lectures has been positive, but I came to post here because I recevied this interesting information in an email this morning, which emphasises why this work is important for anybody who is going to be presenting and wants to be seen and heard as the best authentic self that they can be.

Back in the 1970s, Psychologist Albert Mehrabian discovered that there were three ways that listeners measured communication from others - words, voice and nonverbal behaviour
(affect display).
He updated this in the 1980s to the following equation:
Total Liking =
7% Verbal Liking +
38% Vocal Liking +
55% Facial Liking

Or to put it another way, the content of your communication is only 7% of what you communicate!!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

A lovely testimonial

I received this email from a member of the Hamilton Chorale this week.

Julie Hi

I would like to thank you for last week’s choir practice. When I arrived I was just so tired, I had had a hectic week with long hours and, at my age (72 years) I was really exhausted. When I arrived home just after 6.00 pm I did not want to go out again. But, if everyone thought that way, there would be no one there and also, I really enjoy singing.

I did not think I would be able to concentrate properly. When I returned to my car after choir practice, I felt on a high! I could have gone on “singing all night”! Thank you, you encourage us and teach us and make choir practice fun! You have given this choir a really lovely “tone” so that people find us easy to listen to and want to hear more. You have such a variety of songs and atmospheres that it is never boring, as can be when some choir sing the same thing for the whole concert.

When I returned home, I did not need a pill to take away my headache, as the headache had gone. The heavy feeling of tiredness over my eyes had gone and I felt invigorated and full of energy.

Julie - thank you

Yvonne G King

I know that singing can have these effects, but it is delightful when the singers discover it for themselves.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

8 - 80 Showstoppers Concert videos now on Youtube!!

After quite a process, I have posted the songs to Youtube, and you can access them by clicking on this link

8 - 80 Videos

If your internet connection is slow, then let the clip download before you play it. I recommend the first song, and 'I'd do anything' sung to each other by the children and the women of the Glee Club.

Few of the songs are complete, I edited out the people who walked in front of the camera, and the section where a child at the feet of the person videoing, became voluble :-)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

8 - 80 Showstoppers Concert a great success!

The concert yesterday afternoon was highly successful on so many levels!!
Both choirs sang well, particularly the Glee Club, who were down to 17 members, with one having to leave before the concert as his wife needed him at home. The sound system make it so much better as well, and the feedback from the audience was astounding!! I had people asking if they could join the Glee Club. The members of the Glee Club had already considered that, and they are very certain that it is their choir, for those who live at the Hilda Ross Village, not for outsiders.

I was in Christchurch with a father in ill-health, and then experienced the earthquake for the 24 hours from Tuesday to Wednesday, until I returned to Hamilton. It did not stop, and probably still has not stopped. The concert completely lifted my spirits for that hour and still is doing so, the power of music. Photos and video are on their way.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Happy New Year

I am back in New Zealand after a most amazing time, 3,128 photographs, 19 flights, assorted train trips, many many new friends met along the way, incredible church services in languages that I could not understand, and now a week of recovery and unpacking, and planning.

Congratuations to the Hilda Ross Glee Club who did so well practicing in my absence, special thanks to Ngairi Fraser and Elizabeth Carlisle who did an amazing job of co-ordinating the rehearsals.

Projects now are:
The 8 - 80 Show Stopper Concert on Friday February 25th at 4:00p.m. in the Pavilion as part of the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival This will involve separate, and combined rehearsals with the Rotokauri Tuis, when schools go back at the beginning of February.

Contacting my singing students to get lesson times planned.

New repertoire for the Hamilton Chorale to work on when choir starts again in February.

Ongoing negotiations with a major provider to run a 3-mth trial to show outcomes, which then leads on to a firm contract.

Getting in touch with the local newspaper health reporter, to talk about my new work.

Composing some songs for retirement choirs to sing. Roy Ernst of the New Horizons Organisation suggested this gap in the repertoire, and it would be good to get back to composing, which I have not had time for in my last position.

As I told my grand-daughter, I have now left school, after 51 years!!