Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Complaints Choirs

A couple of years ago my colleague Luis and myself worked with a film maker on a project called The Cleaners' Voice, which was a campaigning song for the London Living Wage. Our cleaners at work successfully achieved their objective, which was wonderful.
Luis invited me along on Monday to work with his students, who had formed a Complaints Choir because they hate working in groups. They had already start working on words and I was invited along to help them make it into a song.
It was really good fun; they are Theatre Studies students and have all sorts of skills that are different to musicians' skills; they can do things immediately and remember really long sequences of words and actions. This group had great rhythm too. Very quickly we had clapping rhythms and the chant had developed into a melody; we had call and response. All this before I even got the guitar out.
The guitar tidied it up which was a good thing and a bad thing. It was fun while it was loose but the mood lifted as it started to materialise into a proper song. We talked, we agreed, we discussed.
As a group.
Towards the end of the session, spirits were flagging. Was this it?
Luis suggested that they lined up opposite each other and walked to change sides as they sang. They went for it and suddenly the smiles appeared with a new element to the song: the sound of stamping feet. The voices were loud and confident; they sang with gusto, they laughed.
The irony of a group who hate group work, working together to create a lovely song to sing was not lost on anybody!

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