YYC Be Our Guest (Tutor)

It's been longer than I had planned but here is the next installment of the YYC chronicles. Although I do feel a little bit of pressure with this post after recently finding out that my two choir conductors read my first YYC blog. Hi John and Alison! Hope you enjoy this one!

A big part of the YYC experience are the guest tutors. Every course, one day is set aside for a guest tutor who comes along and teaches the choir about a different style of music, or ways to improve singing techniques by working on posture, breathing and sight reading. As I was in the choir for nearly ten years I have seen several guest tutors so I’m not going to talk about them all in one go, instead I’m going to talk about my three personal favourites.

One of my earliest guest tutor memories is with the amazing Pete Churchill. Pete was the tutor for one of my first courses, and I remember the conductor of the training choir Alison, talking about how amazing he was and how much we would all gain from spending a day with him. Pete Churchill is a Canadian choral director and composer, and from our experience with him as a choir, it is safe to say that he is fantastic at what he does. Members of the choir in the early years will know how much Pete brought to it and the legacy he left behind. It is thanks to him that the choir has their anthem, the song that we have taken to Edinburgh, Italyand most recently Majorca. Pete Churchill gave YYC ‘Change in my Life’ and he will always be remembered for that. I will never forget performing the song for the first time and hearing Owen Farrow, a remarkably talented tenor with one of the best falsettos I have ever heard, belting out the solo. I also think it was the first time I ever heard a man sing so high, so I think it was a bit of a shock to me too! So thank you Pete because you really did leave your mark on our choir!

The next guest tutor I’m going to talk a little about is Lucky Moyo, a singer from Zimbabwe who leads workshops and projects all over the word. He has visited over 30 countries to perform and has also performed in front of Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth II, and YYC were lucky enough to have him run a workshop with us. Learning African style music was such a different experience for us as a choir, we had done music of an African style at previous courses and we have done since, but learning from someone who has grown up surrounded by this music and knows how it is sung and performed is a completely different experience. Seventy teenagers from Yorkshireattempting to dance while singing an African song may look entertaining, but it really was a great experience and we definitely learnt a lot from our time with Lucky.

The final guest tutor I’m going to talk about for now is Paul Whittaker. Born deaf Paul plays the organ and the piano, as well as founding the charity Music and the Deaf. He has signed over sixty musical productions, both on the West End and on tour, in 2007 he received an OBE for services to Music in 2007. And of course he has been a guest tutor for YYC several times. Paul brought something completely different to our guest tutor days, teaching us sign language to some simple and some difficult songs, I’m proud to say that I can still remember the sign language for the chorus of ‘Stand by Me’ unfortunately, I cant remember too much more, but it is something I would like to learn more of. He is such a talented man and has an amazing sense of humour. I am incredibly jealous that he went back to YYC again last Easter and taught the members how to sign to ‘I Believe.’ Learning some sign language is something I will never forget and whenever ‘Stand by Me’ comes on the radio I always sign along to the chorus!

The guest tutors are just another reason why the YYC is such a brilliant choir, we don’t just learn how to improve our singing techniques and improve friendships, we learn valuable skills which will be useful throughout our lives. How many other people can say they have been taught by a Canadian, an OBE, a man who has performed for the Queen AND a Ballet Mistress at Northern Ballet, (but that’s a story for another day.)

For more information about Pete Churchill Click Here

For more information about Lucky Moyo Click Here

For more information about Paul Whittaker Click Here

For more information about Music and the Deaf Click Here

For more information about the Yorkshire Youth Choir Click Here

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