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Heads Up: Virtual Youth Choir!

May 27, 2014


Last year I was able to participate in Virtual Choir 4: Fly to Paradise, which was fantastic. So I got really excited when I was able to share it recently with my school and then tell them about the world’s first Virtual Youth Choir which has recently been launched.

Singers aged 18 and under can take part in this choir, which will be premiered at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Children need to sign up and submit a parent’s/guardian’s email so they can confirm their child’s participation. The learning tools are all publicly available so parents and teachers can help singers to learn the song.

Once they’ve got the song down, singers can video themselves singing the song and upload it to the website. All the videos are brought together in a mind-boggling feat of editing to form one massive online choir.

The dealine to submit videos is June 8 (midnight, UTC-11), so if you haven’t visited the Virtual Youth Choir already, click on the image below to get started!



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The Secondary Schools Choral Festival…and counting sleeps!

July 19, 2012


Why am I counting sleeps? Because come August 13, my other half and I are on long-service leave and we’re heading off to France! This has been a life-long dream for me, so I’m very excited that it’s finally happening.

In the meantime, I apologize for altogether disappearing from the radar for the last few months. It has been stupidly busy, and to be honest, I kind of lost the habit of blogging. I am resolved to turn back from the dark side, though, as I really do much better at things when I write about them.

Secondary Schools Choral Festival

For the second year in a row, my choir had the privilege of working with renowned choral director David Lawrence. They had a one and a half hour workshop, then a rehearsal together with students of four other school choirs. All of them performed together that night for the Secondary Schools Choral Festival in Mackay last Friday night.

I was particularly excited because the song which my choir performed was actually written by one of the students. She wrote it two years ago when she was in grade ten. It impressed me so much that I was resolved to arrange it for the choir. This year I did just that, and it was performed to a very impressed audience.

I have a MuseScore file of her song in the choral arrangement, which I will post on this blog when I get a few moments to polish it up (with her permission).

The night before that performance, I attended a workshop which David Lawrence also held, this one for choral conductors. I hadn’t attended one of these in a long time, so I was really excited. Many years ago I studied choral conducting at the Brisbane Conservatorium with Dr John Nickson, which was one of my favourite classes. I spent the evening trying to reconnect with those concepts I’d learned back then, under David’s helpful guidance. It was one of the best workshops I’ve attended in a long time and I found myself wishing I could attend conducting classes.

I was especially glad because there had been a week-long choral conducting workshop in Brisbane over the recent holidays, but I had been unable to attend.

After the workshop, we all went out for dinner, during which I introduced David to Twitter and telling him why he should tweet. Who knows? Perhaps I’ll have another new follower soon…and then I’ll have to introduce him to all of you guys.


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Secondary School Choral Festival and Workshop

July 25, 2011


Last Friday, my choir (very small, very new, and very quiet) had the opportunity to work with UK choral director David Lawrence during a one-hour workshop, followed by a three-hour combined choir rehearsal. The combined choirs were from secondary schools all over Mackay, and they gave a concert for the Choral Festival that evening.

I told David up front that I must have the quietest choral group in the Mackay district. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to get these girls to come out of their shells and sing out.

So he spent the next hour showing me how to do just that. I think the most important message he got across to them was this: there’s no physical difference between singing on your own and singing with other people. Every one of them would willingly sing as long as others were singing, but when asked to sing on their own, they clammed up.

So he said to everyone, “now, all of you sing on your own…at the same time!”

That seemed to do the trick. A couple of hours later, I came upon them in the classroom allocated to us for the evening before the concert, and they were absolutely belting along to someone’s ipod.

I’m buying the sheet music for “Soul Sista” and “The Lazy Song” first chance I get. I think for the next little while, I’m going to spend some quality time with lots of songs that they not only like, but like to sing really LOUDLY…without hurting their voices.

I also need to do some reading. At the recent ASME conference, I bought a number of books all to do with directing choirs, because I am seriously lacking in self-confidence on this particular point.

That seems weird, because I’ve been in heaps of choirs, ever since I was twelve. The school choir, Qld Children’s Choir, Qld Youth Choir, Brisbane Chorale, Conservatorium Chamber Singers. I’ve travelled all over Queensland, and even went to Japan one time, singing with choirs.

But I think that might be just the problem. I’ve been in so many fantastic choirs, with so many great choral directors, that I seem to be totally intimidated at the idea of directing one myself. There’s some part of me that thinks there is just no way that I could ever be that good at leading a group and bringing voices together so well.

I already happen to know for a fact that this isn’t true. Last year I was the musical director for the school musical, and I managed to lead a group of about fifty-ish students, male and female, and they were even singing in harmony by the end of three months.

Unfortunately, while they loved being part of it all at the time, I couldn’t seem to persuade them to stick around. Besides that, many were seniors and are now gone.

I need some serious confidence-building in the area of choir-building, so I’m hitting the books. In the meantime, I’m trying to get the girls I do have to rope some guys in.

Back to the story. The concert was last Friday evening. Four of the six or seven school choirs performed separately, and then all choirs joined together into one great big mob on stage.

They sang a traditional Nambian song called “Halima Pakasholo”, and Elgar’s arrangement of “Ave Verum Corpus”. They also sang two uplifting ballads, “Raise Your Voice” by Tim Morley and Dawn Ellis, and “Together As One” by David’s wife Rebecca Lawrence.

I had such a great time that I was inspired to compose some choral music myself, so I sat down in front of my computer and basically stayed there for the next two days.

The result was a new setting of “Ave Verum Corpus” to add to the dozen or so that are already out there. You may or may not have seen me carrying on about it on Twitter for the past day or so. You can download the score from my Compositions page, and hear a Sibelius audio. You can also find it on

Creative Commons License
This article by Gabrielle Deschamps is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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