POPULAR VOICEWORKS 2 NEARS COMPLETION
It’s great when you can feel a project nearing completion after a long preparation period.
Last week, Steve Milloy and I spent two 9 hour days in the studio at the Royal College of Music recording the new demos and backing tracks for Popular Voiceworks 2.
I played piano and sang, as did Steve, and we were joined by Alex L’Estrange (bass and voice), Chris Wells (drums), Heather Cairncross, Louise Marshall and Ben Parry (voices). WIth such a range of voices, it was easy to cover everything from jazz, gospel and soul to more conventional pop and musical theater. It was so great to hear these songs and new arrangements come alive at last, after nearly 3 years work on the project. The book itself should be out in July.
For those unfamiliar with the project, Voiceworks is a series of books published by Oxford (OUP) for choral directors and vocal educators, featuring songs at different levels and for different age groups, from unison songs to the more complex ‘showstoppers’.
Our goal with Popular Voiceworks was to introduce teachers and students to accessible and fun ways of singing pop music and jazz safely and stylishly. Each of the 29 arrangements comes with a workshop, containing tips on how to teach each song, how to rehearse it, vocal exercises and warm-ups, and suggestions as to how to perform it. All pages are photocopiable, and each song comes with a sample performance in the style and a backing track for groups which have no access to musicians.
I teach improvising, and singers are especially encouraged to improvise in the jazz songs, using simple starting points that anyone can have a go at. Book 2 also includes a section on beatboxing, so you can introduce percussion sounds and help your students to beatbox along with your group.
Here is Jason Singh, top UK beatboxer, who contributed beats and individual sounds.
It was an honour to work with such efficient and experienced musicians and we covered so much ground with amazing efficiency and good humour throughout. We had great feedback from the singers too, that book was fun to sing and the material was interesting and varied. Let’s hope this second book proves as successful as the first!