Archive | Performing RSS feed for this archive

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.


Continue reading...

What Teachers Make…

May 24, 2011


A brilliant piece of slam poetry by Taylor Mali:

Continue reading...

Teaching students how to finish a performance

May 19, 2011


My senior students have been rehearsing for an upcoming performance assessment during the past few weeks. One issue that frequently turns up is how to finish.

Specifically, it’s how to maintain that split-second of silent focus, through which a performer communicates to the audience one of two things: either, “it’s over, clap now,” or, “I’m not finished yet, stop clapping!”

You will never, ever see a professional performer get up on stage and do his or her thing, and then say,”…and that’s it.”

When my students are up doing their rehearsal runs, they will often finish their performances with that annoying little phrase.

Maybe it’s all those years of having to get up and do oral presentations in class for other subjects, all the way back to “show and tell” in our very first years of school. I remember how every one of us used to end with, “and that’s it,” whenever we had to be out in front of everyone, addressing the class for some purpose or other. It becomes a habit.

Or maybe it’s the fact that doing nothing is one of the most difficult things to do on stage. It’s hard to just stand there and be stared at by a bunch of people. One feels a need to fill the silence with something. It’s a specific performance skill, to be able to stand there, confidently and quietly, and just wait for the applause.

The only time in school when I was consistently, actively taught how to finish a performance, was in the rehearsals for school band and choir. That was fine for those of us who were in those groups, but it didn’t help the students who weren’t.

As it happens, none of my current senior students are “band geeks”. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a guitar player which acts as a drawcard for so many metal-heads to my subject area, I don’t know. Whatever the reason, although I’ve got plenty of band players in the junior cohort, my current seniors are mostly the types who wouldn’t want to be seen dead playing in the school band.

Interestingly enough, however, those who aren’t in the traditional school ensemble, do tend to be in their own little rock bands. A few of them get gigs. A number of them have played at the school social. (Yes, I do get them to perform their stuff for assessment.) I’ll be willing to bet my right arm that when they’re up there on stage, never once have they finished with, “and that’s it.”

Yet they do this over and over again in class.

So I’m on a mission: to eradicate “and that’s it” from the mouths of every one of my students, for good.

Creative Commons License
Teaching students how to finish a performance by Gabrielle Deschamps is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting me.

Continue reading...