On Monday we headed to Pimlico to sing but, rather than attending our usual rehearsal halls, we stopped just short at St Saviour's Church to take part in a vocal CPD workshop for choral facilitators, run by the London Youth Choir.
It was lovely to be in a room full of people just as passionate about group singing as we are. In amongst sharing skills and ideas with peers, we were tutored by Greg Beardsell and Rachel Staunton, two of the brightest lights in choral leadership.
Greg Beardsell. Source: gregbeardsell.com
The workshop reinforced the value of engaging our mind with our breath, voice and body and those around us when singing, not just as a vocal tool but a social one; levelling the group and casting out external worries, focusing you on the task and sharing in the same exercise.
All of this is at the forefront of our work with Starling Arts and how we nurture communities, whether new or existing, to be creative, confident and supportive of one another.
Following an excellent rehearsal with our choir Corvida last night - excellent because our singers not only sang and performed brilliantly, but engaged in all of the above qualities - I returned home to watch the latest episode of The Apprentice. Focusing on Corporate Away Days, the two teams had to devise a day of team building and motivational exercises for major clients, the winner being the team who provided not just a profitable session for themselves, but a satisfying and useful session for their client. The exercises chosen - wine tasting, cupcake decorating, archery, etc - may have been fun in their own right, but what surprised me, and indeed Lord Sugar, was how the majority of candidates seemed to link these tasks so tenuously to the business objectives set-out by the client.
Candidates in the BBC's 'The Apprentice'. Source: telegraph.co.uk
Away Days are about team-building, leadership, confidence, focus and communication, all qualities which can be developed through group singing. Starling Arts offer bespoke sessions which provide just that for businesses (click here to find out more). Delegates need no prior experience to sing, just a voice! And regardless of the vocal quality, the personal satisfaction and achievement that comes from group singing is at the root of why it works; perhaps The Apprentice candidates should have got in touch with us?
Next month a new book by Stacy Horn is to be published. 'Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness in Singing With Others' charts Horn's time with a community choir she joined after her divorce. In a recent interview with Ari Shapiro and guest Daniel Levitin (author of 'This is Your Brain on Music'), Horn quotes a paper she read which explained how "Group singing and performance can produce satisfying and therapeutic sensations, even when the sound produced by the vocal instrument is of mediocre quality." Once again, you don’t need prior experience (or Adele's vocal cords) to sing together, and it is exactly this point which I hope will fend off any skeptics who might favour wine-tasting or chocolate making over a good sing when it comes to coporate away days. As Daniel Levitin highlights in the interview, there are proven neurochemical rewards gained from group singing, principally the release of oxytocin, the 'friendship chemical'. Friendship is the cornerstone of a strong community, be it a choir, business, school or society.
See the power of group singing in action at our concert Abracadabra next month, and get in touch if you would like Starling Arts to sing with you and your workplace.