Ingredients of a successful participatory workshop

Volunteer Judy Davies tells us about her experience at an inspiring singing workshop and performance of Acis and Galatea hosted by North London Chorus earlier this month.

As a guest representing Making Music, it was a delight to join this very friendly chorus for the day and to be guided through the work by NLC patron and Handel super-specialist Laurence Cummings.

This was much more than a ‘Come and sing’ event. The main body of the choir (+ guest participants) had already been musically and linguistically prepared for the six remarkable choruses at weekly rehearsals by Murray Hipkin, the engaging Director of the NLC.

With this choral ‘ballast’, Laurence Cummings treated everybody to an enthusiastic and entertaining masterclass on Handel’s Acis and Galatea - the simple musical forms underlying all those devilish semiquaver runs, the lovely dancing rhythms and the emotional rhetoric in Handel’s music.

As a guest, I noted some of the organisational features of the day that helped it to run smoothly, to attract a good number of singers and to make it such an enjoyable musical and social experience:

  • A committed, welcoming and musically ‘ready’ singing membership
  • A motivating and approachable chorus leader
  • A well-tended website
  • Plenty of social media ‘mentions’, tweets, adverts, invitations
  • Prompt and friendly communication in response to guest enquiries about the day
  • Plenty of information about the timings and venue for the day
  • Easily printable sheet music and e-access to rehearsal tracks
  • An inspirational musical leader for the day
  • Exciting and accomplished soloists and instrumentalists
  • An easily accessible, pleasant venue

This occasion was mounted by the North London Chorus as a ‘good thing to do’ – not especially to boost membership nor to raise funds. A refreshing, brave and very successful undertaking!