Themed Workshops

Each of these themed workshops focuses on a different area of choral, performance, or directing craft, and shows how the research from my book, Choral Conducting and the Construction of Meaning, can be turned to direct practical use. Each theme can be delivered as a full-day or half-day workshop, or as an introductory session in your regular rehearsal slot. In all cases, the workshops will be customised to your ensemble's current repertoire to help you integrate the skills it develops into your regular work.

I am also still available to work with your ensemble as a clinician and performance coach on either an ad hoc or regular basis.

Feel free to get in touch with any questions you might have.

Everyone knows that listening is vital to good choral singing, but we don’t often stop to consider what this involves or how to do it better. This workshop explores the different dimensions of aural awareness, and the ways they can improve both a choir’s technical standard and its imaginative grasp of the music. Opening our ears helps us open our minds and open our hearts.

Developing the Ensemble

The term ‘ensemble’ is used to describe attributes of performance from simple neatness of execution to that magical sense that a group is performing ‘as one’. This workshop uses research in social psychology to help participants understand how the ‘telepathy’ of ensemble musicianship works and uses practical exercises to put this into practice.

Effective Rehearsal Skills

Music Team members are usually appointed because of their vocal and/or musical skills. As such, they have the insight and experience to perceive what is needed to improve the performance they are working on, but they may not always be practiced in eliciting it as efficiently as possible. This practical workshop introduces some simple yet powerful techniques that will turn those insights into immediately audible results.

Gesture and Voice

Nonverbal communication studies has long been interested in the relationship between gesture and speech – but has largely ignored the relationship between gesture and singing. Singers and conductors, meanwhile, have a strong practical but largely unarticulated understanding of how their gestures work. This workshop draws on research that brings these areas together in order to help conductors and singers increase their reflective awareness and thus develop greater control over what they do.

The Musical Music Team

The members of a choir's music team spend a lot of time and energy interacting musically with the rest of the choir, but they often work together in a largely administrative mode. This workshop places practical music-making at the heart of the team's activities by introducing a working method that offers benefits in three dimensions. It helps team members (a) develop their individual skills, (b) form a closer musical bond with other team members, and (c) use what they learn about their repertoire through this process to inform their work with the rest of the choir.

Different styles of music imply different approaches to performance, both vocally and visually. This workshop examines the implicit body language of the choir’s repertoire along three axes: stillness vs movement, uniformity vs individuality, and musical characterisation. This leads on to an exploration of the impact this body language has on other elements of performance style such as vocal production and interpretation.

Rethinking Choral Musicianship

Musicianship is to performing music what motor mechanics is to driving classic cars – you can get away with relatively little, but the more you are familiar with how the whole thing works, the more confidently and competently you do it, and the easier it is to troubleshoot when something goes awry. This workshop explores the benefits of investing time in musicianship training to enhance the skills the singers come in with. It shows how both warm-up exercises and repertoire work can be used to develop skills that will make future learning more efficient. The workshop assumes that the most confident in a choir can still usefully be stretched, and that the least confident can always make useful gains!

The Two-Dimensional Music Team: Functions and Roles

Any team works in two dimensions: on one hand the functions that team exists to fulfill, and on the other the dynamic that emerges between its members as they work together. Music team members are generally appointed with a strong focus on the specialist skills needed for the individual posts rather than the range of character and interpersonal styles needed for a balanced team. This workshop takes the team through a structured analysis of both dimensions so as to ensure that each individual and the group as a whole are able to operate productively and confidently.

Understanding the Conductor-Choir Bond

The connection between conductors and choirs is something widely experienced, but understood only at an implicit, intuitive level. This workshop draws on a five-year research project that investigated the cultural, psychological and neurological mechanisms that make the bond possible. It introduces key theoretical ideas, then guides participants through diagnostic exercises that help them make the bond work better in their own rehearsals.