Easter Course 2015

'Totes emosh' doesn't nearly do justice to just how intense your emotions can be after a YYC course, anyone who saw me on Friday can vouch that I was just an emotional wreck. YYC is completely unique and I have come to the conclusion that we will probably need to invent our own word to describe what it is like to experience it since none of the existing ones out there do it justice.

The repertoire was amazing as always from the upbeat 'Rhythm of Life' to the dramatic climax of 'The Unknown' and the joyful 'Baba Yetu' there wasn't a song we didn't look forward to singing. A big thank you to Alison for yet another brilliant programme! Unfortunately John was allowed to chose some of the music we performed, we therefore ended up singing 'Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer' in a concert at Easter? It was, of course, a wonderful arrangement though from Paul Ayres, the man who gave us the amazing arrangement of 'Holding out for a Hero' a few years back.

This course our usual accompanist Paul Feehan was unable to join us but luckily we had a wonderful replacement for him in the form of Ian Shaw. Without Paul came a lack of a new song arranged for us which the juniors were very quick to point out to Emma. So the multi-talented Emma took it upon herself to write a new piece, music and words, for the junior girls on the Monday evening. The piece was, I think we can all agree, beautiful, Emma did a wonderful job. Also a special mention to the pianist for her song another multi-talented member of the choir Bertie Yates.

I'm now going to attempt to sum this course up in 'Becca's 10 top moments/things'

1. John's determination to achieve perfect posture: Anyone who has been on a YYC course before understands that posture is a very important aspect of our rehearsals, however this course John took his methods to stop slouching to a new level. In a senior boys rehearsal he noticed several planks of wood in the corner of the room. An idea immediately popped into his head and consequentially 3 members of the choir (Sean, Max and Toby) were sat for a whole rehearsal with planks of wood down the back of their t-shirts and received many threats that they would be shot should they move. Naturally this led to John receiving a corporal punishment award.

2. Solfa duck duck goose: After 3 aural sessions which had been jam packed with intervals and rhythms (apart from the mind boggling run through of 'my bonny lies over the ocean' which involved standing or sitting on every word beginning with b, clapping on every word with an o in it and then missing out words) Alison decided to let us have a fun filled session of kodaly games for our fourth and final aural session of the course. We played some of the usual games like 'witch witch fell in a ditch' and sang in rounds but this course we had a new game too! After discussions in the crows nest of what games we could do we managed to invent kodaly duck duck goose (credit to Sarah Wallace). The game involved going round the circle singing the sign that each person was doing instead of saying duck, then instead of saying goose you would sing to wrong sign and interval and the chase would begin.

3. Pow-wows: On the first night when we entered the common room I uttered the words 'let's have a pow-wow' only to be met with confused faces and choruses of 'stop trying to make pow-wow happen, it's not going to happen'. I of course accepted this challenge and am happy to inform you that pow-wow most definitely did happen this course. It was a word we used when 2 or more people were talking or doing something, usually with a common aim. For example there were many rehearsal pow-wows, lunch pow-wows, pub pow-wows, the list is endless. I've tried to use 'pow-wow' at home but have only been met with looks that seem to say 'ummmm has she hit her head recently?' So it must just be a choir camp thing.

4. Lozenges of doom: John was very generous with the solos this course which was wonderful, giving us the chance to showcase individual voices as well as the whole group, however this also presented quite a challenge for some people who were determined to cure their voice loss so they could have their solo. We had no disco this course to try and promote a healthy voice vibe, hoping that a lack of belting out the grease mega mix might help to reduce the number of people losing their voices. Yet, inevitably, by midweek there were several croaky throats and many members miming in the hope of regaining some of their range. We had the usual production line of honey and lemon and trading circles of cough sweets but this course a new flavour of strepsil made its way onto the scene. This new variety had cough medicine in it so we could also attempt to stick to John's ruling of swallowing instead of coughing from last Easter, however to be frank they tasted vile. It was a flavour that was eventually named 'dead cats and broken dreams'. They tasted like they worked and they most definitely did. The lozenges of doom saved many choir members this course, but I can't say that I will be rushing to try them again anytime soon.

5. The breakfast club: Edie Goulden, in my opinion, perfectly summed up the week in something she said to me on the coach: so we started a 'Breakfast Club' group chat early in the week which could be used if someone didn't think they would make it down in time so they could request for someone to bring them something to eat and/or drink. Edie pointed out to me that you were never worried that no one was going to help, you were worried that too many people would want to help and you would end up with 30 packets of honey, 50 lemons and a massive pile of toast! The knowledge that there is always going to be lots of other people there and ready to help you in any way is one of the many reasons why, for me at least, this has been one of the best courses I have ever been on.

6. Talent night: As always talent night was a major highlight of the week. We had wonderful hosts, Bertie and Caroline, who opened the show with 'love is an open door'. There were many wonderful pianists, a beautiful duet from Huw and Rhian, a brilliant dance act from Anna Marriott and the long awaited sequel, the Huw and improved Huwsical. The songs involved ranged from classic warm up phrases, 'I hear Huw calling me', to broadway classics,'PopHuwlar', then there was the well known TV theme tune, 'I'll be there for Huw' and as always no Huw medley would be complete without an addition from Abba, 'Voulez-Huw'. The act was finished with an emotional 'Huw raise me up' and a beautiful solo from Rhian, 'Huw ain't heavy, he's my brother'. There were many other acts including a performance of '12 Bad Auditions' from some of the older members in which we saw John and Alison cringe as Emily Peace had to repeatedly sing out of tune but the stand out act of the evening was most definitely a duet from Caroline and Nathaniel aka Carolaniel. In an absolute stroke of genius they thought to rewrite 'Uptown Funk' to create the 'YYC Funk'! It was perfection. We then moved on to the YYC tradition of the improvised panto. This course we attempted to perform Aladdin. Andy and Hal took on the responsibility of the kiss and Bertie channeled his inner Mirandasings but as always, it was organised chaos and John didn't understand any of it. It was a success!

7. The disappointment from Matthew Rhodes: We had a few new members this course, Caius Lee was one of them. He is an excellent musician, an organ scholar and took some of the men's sectionals despite being only in year 11. During one of the breaks some of the guys decided to compose a song and whilst the accompaniment from Caius was wonderful the lyrics he came up with were, well let's just call them different. There was one section in particular which had anyone who heard the recording crying with laughter. It was the moment that Matthew Rhodes stole the show. I believe the section went something like this:

Caius - Aiden is staring at Matthew,

Matthew R - which one?

Caius - His six pack

Matthew R - ohhhh not me then.

I have never heard anyone sound so disappointed as Matthew did on his second line. It was completely unplanned and still has me in stitches each time I hear it.

8. What do clouds smell of?: Sometimes we can get a bit sleepy in rehearsals. It has been a long few days, you've had limited amounts of sleep, you are singing a slow Latin piece and you feel your eyes start to droop. Luckily Rhian had a plan to get us through this and as soon as we started to feel exhaustion taking over she gave us some of her sugar filled sweets to fuel us through the next hour, unfortunately this led to me being particularly hyper at some points. I became quite enthusiastic about jingling a Lindt bunny bell in some of the pieces but there was one time in particular where my hyperness opened my eyes to some of the big questions we should be asking, like: what do clouds smell like? *que confused pause* after much googling I discovered that clouds smell like fog which was absolutely no help whatsoever but luckily a friend from uni helped to put my mind at rest. So for those of you who are interested, clouds basically smell of water vapour. They specifically don't smell of the scent you get after rain which is caused by a reaction between the precipitation and the plants.

9. Photos: As always there have been so many brilliant photos this course, not only did we take the traditional hundred right before the concert but we also had a photo scavenger hunt mid-week which provided with several amusing moments too. There were artistic photos recreating the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet and then there was my group who decided to try and fit as many people as possible inside a duvet cover. Team Collier and Team Berry won prizes for their group pictures, one of which showed the group pretending to be the creative sculptures in the Undercroft and the other was the group trying to keep the spirit of Andrew Nunn resonating through the choir by 'stroking the pussy cat', a term which we convinced John to resurrect this past week.

10. Change in my life: As you would expect of a choir there was a lot of spontaneous singing and as it is one of our favourite songs 'Change in my Life' was belted out rather frequently. Whether it was in an almost Les Miserables revolution like moment as we marched across the road in Dewsbury to the town centre or just a small group of us sat in a rehearsal room. We sang it whilst waiting for dinner and as if by magic the barriers rose to let us down to queue as we reached the last chord. However the most memorable performance of the week was definitely the one at the concert where John invited past and current members sat in the audience to come and join us as we walked down the aisle singing just like we finished every concert in Majorca. I, of course, was crying by this point but I really was enjoying myself!

I'd just like to thank everyone again for an amazing week. As John and Alison said you are all angels and should be extremely proud of what we achieve each course. Good luck to all who are still getting over their post YYC blues!

Our website which has a link to the audition forms and booking form for next course: http://www.northernorchestralenterprises.co.uk/index.php/category/yorkshire-youth-choir/


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