They're the 'Voice'... they're not gonna sit in silence

4 September 2013

There's a buzz (and a humm and a wheeeee and wah wah…) coming from the Faculty of Education and Social Work Staff Common Room every Tuesday from 1-2pm; it's got nothing to do with the air con but everything to do with air … exhalations and vocalisation, and tutors, alumni and students, combining to make what might be the happiest, most fun lunchtime choir on campus, or anywhere else in town!

Last year the Faculty of Education and Social Work engaged the services of professional vocal coach, choir mistress and Conservatorium Open Academy teacher Nadia Piave to conduct its lunchtime choir. The partnership has been, literally, a harmonious blend of enthusiasm and talent, which regularly hits unexpected high notes.

Nadia said that, although the choir had originally been formed as a bonding exercise between students and tutors, it had developed musically, becoming a "choir of ideas" about creative and imaginative ways to sing songs and make music.

"When I arrived for the first session I wasn't at all sure what to expect," she said.

"My experience with community choirs and teaching workshops and group classes in community colleges and the Conservatorium told me I'd either get a group of people who were ready to jump in and sight-sing Lauridsen, or they'd be more nervous than I was, and hardly utter a sound."

Nadia said she had been delighted to discover the choir was a wonderful group of people who had been willing to drop their guard and try whatever she offered.

"What they got was a little more 'laundry list' than Lauridsen, but boy have we had some fun with those imaginations … you have to use your imagination when you're creating a song about soap suds, underpants and fluffy towels, and all with a cool rhythm and quirky tune!"

Nadia said improvisation was a feature of the sessions in which choir members were encouraged to "go all out" with sung sounds as well as spoken declamations, exclamations and exhalations.

Repertoire ranges from crazy imagination-laden ostinati, riffs or loops ("let's create a pizza with our voices today folks. Let me hear all the ingredients and the kneading and the baking") to 17th century rounds, popular tunes, and most recently a collection of University 'student' songs of olde.

Nadia said people join the choir for all sorts of reasons: to step outside their comfort zone, to sing in different languages, or to develop a ideas for how to help students to remember formulae and facts.

"We've explored everything from beach sounds to improvised carillion lines and even a rendition in Mandarin (translated and scanned by a student) of a Creedence Clearwater song.

"The choir is always ready to welcome new people and different ideas. It doesn't matter whether people arrive for lots of reasons or none. Everyone walks away happier than when they arrived."

Contact: Belinda Chambers

Email: 2c075e513e232648223a2b2e513746013a021d0b560a186720090d77381d