Posted In: Featured Arrangements
It’s ‘acapella’ week this week as we’ve got a bumper crop of new unaccompanied arrangements published – a fantastic addition to our collection from Gitika Partington and Wendy Sergeant. As long-time members of the ChoirCommunity team, Gitika and Wendy both have well-established collections on the website, but these latest additions bring something new and fresh as always.
Wendy has recently undertaken an “Innovative Choir Leading” course at the Royal College of Music in Denmark and I think you can definitely hear the influence of that in her latest arrangements. In particular, her version of ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ and an original composition called ‘Winter Waltz’ are well worth a listen.
As a Co-founder of the website, Gitika now has 164 titles in her collection and these latest ones are great additions, mostly harking back a few decades and including some of the greatest song writers of the time. Her version of the Rolling Stones ‘Paint It, Black’ is understandably one of her choirs’ favourite songs. I also love the melifluous feel of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue’ which also has a recording you can listen to on Gitika’s Soundcloud channel.
We had a really great response to this competition over the first few months of the year and have enjoyed judging all the entries immensely. Thank you to everyone who took the time and effort to send us something. We enjoyed listening to every one and have been assured that the community choir scene is thriving around the world!
The range of entries was also impressive. We received over 30 submissions in total and the winners chosen span three continents – North America, Europe and Australasia. It’s rather gratifying to be able to say this was a truly international competition!
….but now, onto the results!
It’s been a while, but we have finally got ourselves into the position of looking for some new arrangers to join the team!
ChoirCommunity is now in its sixth year and we are really proud of what we have achieved over this time. We now have well over 1100 downloadable titles available, all created by our 22 talented choir leaders, arrangers, composers and musicians from around the UK and abroad. Since January 2018, over 250,000 copies of music have been downloaded from the site by the 6,700 choirs around the world who have joined up by registering an account. We’re now looking to build on that start by continuing to expand the team of arrangers and the scope of our music library.
We thought we’d try a new way of showcasing some of the great music we have on ChoirCommunity and especially the fantastic talent embodied in our wonderful team of arrangers. Each week, we’ll put a new video up on YouTube created by one (or sometimes more than one) of our arrangers of a song which is available from our library for download. The format will be a mixture of ‘virtual’ and live performance and we hope you’ll enjoy subscribing to the channel and having a listen each week.
The first video to be published is Wendy Sergeant’s version of I’m Still Standing, sung by Wendy herself along with Doug Watts (another of our team of arrangers), Catherine Smith and Katherine Everett. The video was created by Doug as part of the Portishead Festival of Song in 2020.
The sheet music and learning tracks for this arrangement can be downloaded from the website here.
Make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel and click to receive notifications of videos as they come out each week at https://www.youtube.com/c/choircommunity
We’re constantly looking to find new ways to make the website better and easier to use, especially when it comes to search for the right piece of music! One of the things which has held us back is the way in which all the classification data – things like genre, voicing, difficulty level, accompaniment, choir type, etc. – have been grouped together as ‘categories’ or ‘tags’.
Well, this has now all changed, along with a brand new design for all the pages on the website where our arrangements are listed. Now you can filter any list by any of these categories independently, while also typing more specific search terms to find exactly what you want.
We hope you find the new page design easy to use and more importantly, enables you to find the best arrangements for your choir quickly and easily.
All the product pages still have the ability to preview the full scores, as well as listen to an excerpt of the ensemble learning track for every arrangement (well, nearly every one – we’re working on that!). All our learning tracks are all properly sung and recorded in high-quality audio as well to make the browsing experience as enjoyable and useful as possible.
Try out the new full catalogue search page here.
We hope you like the changes – please let us know by replying on this post, or emailing us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Choirs come in all sizes and shapes and the diversity across these variations is wonderful. When my own choir started out around 12 years ago we majored on singing quite straightforward songs with repeated verses, things we could grasp fairly quickly yet were very effective and fun to do. Songs from the African continent, Folk songs and Spirituals fitted that category. And we still love singing those sorts of songs, it’s really the core of what we’re about.
The wealth of classical choral repertoire has a reputation for being beyond the reach of most Community Choirs but we have over the years found this not to be the case, and if chosen carefully and taught in the same way we learn all our pieces, there is much pleasure to be had in dipping some toes in the waters of this great rich ocean.
The situation with Coronavirus has changed our lives beyond recognition recently and we are all trying to work out new ways of interacting and keeping connected. All sorts of things are harder and some are impossible. Unfortunately one of these is being able to meet together to sing, which is what many of us rely on for our sanity and some for our actual livelihoods.
Sometimes when doors close others seem to open and we have discovered there is an opportunity to do something that perhaps we should have been doing all along…..
Welcome to a totally new online singing experience!
We are about to start a series of online singing experiences where you can join others from the safety of your home, either through a Computer, a Laptop, iPad or even smartphone, and not only meet singers from all round the world, but interact with them, make suggestions and connections, and even (almost) sing with them. You will have the option to join the session either on the Conferencing app Zoom, or Facebook live.
We will be using music available from the ChoirCommunity.net website. Normally there is a restriction to buy no less than 15 copies (based on the size of your choir) but this will be lifted for anyone joining the session so that the resource pack can be bought and downloaded by individuals wanting to take part as well.
Here’s how it’s going to work.
- Register an account on ChoirCommunity (if you haven’t already) so you can access and download the resource pack for each session
- If you want to join the session via Zoom, look into downloading the appropriate app or client for the device you are going to use
- Download the resource pack for the appropriate upcoming session (the current pack can be found here)
- Follow the instructions in the instructions and guidelines document includes in the resource pack for logging on and taking part in the session
The two experiences (Zoom and Facebook Live) will be a little different from each other. Here’s how they will work:
If you choose the Zoom option you will be able to
- See everybody who has turned their camera on
- Talk to anyone who has joined (one at a time!)
- Hear and watch the session leader teach the music
- Type comments at any time or feedback when asked.
- Sing along to the generated tracks.
- Smile, wave, drink what you like, show pets, dance etc
If you choose the Facebook option you will be able to
- See and hear the session leader very clearly
- Type comments at any time – the leader can respond to these as well
- Sometimes even hear the discussion between the singing sections
- Sing along to any generated tracks
It’s important to note that the Zoom option will only be available to the first 100 joiners. This is down to the limitation of the Zoom conferencing software. If this idea is successful however, we will look at the options for increasing the number for future sessions.
We really hope you give this a try and join the community making great choral music together.
See you online soon!
Very nearly a year ago today, we posted a blog announcing a brand new deal we had just signed with Hal Leonard, the largest publisher of sheet music in the world (Read the original blog here). This was a very exciting moment for us, as Hal Leonard own or manage the rights to the vast majority of the most popular music produced over the last few decades. The deal meant that many of our arrangers’ favourite songs could now be published on a worldwide basis, something previously denied to us.
It is well known that community choirs in particular have a long-standing tradition of fundraising and charity work. In fact, we wrote about the very subject in our blog last April.
One of the most powerful ways in which choirs can make a real difference is when they come together and join forces for a common cause and there is perhaps no better example of this that the ‘Sing For Water’ initiative, which from humble beginnings has now raised over £1 million for Water Aid.
The idea behind the Sing For Water initiative is that choirs all over the country learn a set number of songs separately and then come together in large collaborative concerts to sing them.
We are therefore delighted that one of our songs has been chosen as one of the set pieces of music for this years events! Craig’s arrangement of ‘Pokarekare Ana’ has been selected as one of seven pieces originating from different parts of the world.
Events for 2020 are starting to be announced all over the country, so if you’re interested in getting involved, google your nearest even and get stuck in!
A great way to start of course, would be to download our song and start practising! It will continue to be freely available here all year.
Past and Present – The Partington Singers and The Roaring Trowmen
When I was young I was a member of ‘The Partington Family Singers’ of which my dear brother Dave was the youngest member. We didn’t sing together for many years after we left school, until our dad (who taught us everything we know about singing) sadly died in 2014 and we sung together at his funeral. We have been doing our own singing ventures thought the years, and one of Dave’s was being a core member of The Roaring Trowmen, a wonderful Sea Shanty group who have played all the major British Folk Festivals.
When I got more involved in ChoirCommunity it became apparent that we were looking for more pieces for men and one day Dave (a keen long distance cyclist) stopped in for large amounts of cake on the way to a place many miles away by bike – the penny dropped! His group have two albums out, and by chance also had audios of each voice on its own, so I started trawling through, transcribing (with the help of Kate Gessey and Doug Waller) and making them available for you to sing. I had fun taking Dave’s bass parts and then arranging a couple for mixed voices, so got to sing with my brother again (even though he was not even in the building).
The shanties for men are labelled TTBB (tenor 1 & 2 bass 1& 2) and mostly the parts do work from high to low, but Douglas Watts (who with Sam Burns has also added to the collection) says they really are just ‘parts for men’ and don’t really follow the more conventional rules of who sings high and who sings low. Looking at them on a score, sometimes the parts feel a little curious, but these are the real deal – parts made up in the back room of a pub and really true to the aural tradition, so there is no need to be precious with them. They are not set in stone and are to be played with and changed as often as you see fit. We hope you enjoy them.
Have a look through the selection here and let us know what you think! (also try and work out who is the same person in the images above)
We’re always striving to provide music which can be enjoyed by as many different types of singing group as possible. Many of you have often told us that you are often constrained with the music you can try out by many different factors, such as which voices you have to work with for a particular rehearsal or the unexpected lack of an accompanist, for example.
Craig has created an initial pack of simple rounds which can be used as warm-up exercises or just enjoyable pieces to have fun with. They are completely flexible so can be tried among any group and will always sound great!
This is the start of another brand new section on the website which we intend to expand with all sorts of creative ideas and enjoyable exercises to try, whatever mix of voices your group is comprised of!
The first Rounds pack can be found here. Please check it out and let us know what you think!
Image by Karen Kodish Photography
We’ve got a new look to our homepage this month. We hope you like it as much as we do! Hopefully it looks lighter, sharper and also a bit clearer. We have introduced featured music panels, which showcase different aspects of our library, each of which is illustrated with a unique icon. We will be rotating these over the next few months to see which work best and also to introduce new music as it becomes available.
…which leads me onto the real reason that we did this. I am delighted to be able to launch a whole new section of the website for ChoirCommunity. Thanks to our partnership with Making Music, we have reached an agreement to publish the original works created as part of their ‘Adopt a Composer’ initiative. This is a scheme which runs every year and encourages music groups of all types to commission original pieces of work from composers working in the UK. All of the completed works are performed by the group in question and most are broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
For the launch of this new section, we welcome Mark Boden, Aran Browning and Rosie Clements whose original compositions are a wonderful examples of the contemporary choral music scene in the UK. Meet them on the new composers’s page here and take a look at their submissions.
We have also added one of Craig’s original works here too and will be adding more from him, as well as many others in the future.
One of the really enjoyable experiences we have had since setting up ChoirCommunity has been to see the growing number of choirs discover the website and sign up. I get an alert email every time that happens and it still gives me a little buzz each time it happens!
….which is quite nice since it has now happened well over 800 times since January 2018! After we put out the results of the competition last month, it struck me that it might be rather cool to see a more visual illustration of that experience, so after researching various options, our new Maps page has been born!
Since the Easter break Craig and I have been thoroughly enjoying the task of judging the entries for our competition, #16SecondsOfSound and are delighted to announce the winners here!
It was a tough decision to split out the top group, but we eventually settled on our winners without too may arguments!
The winner of the 1st prize and recipient of a specially commissioned piece written by Craig, as well as 10,000 bonus reward points (worth £50 towards future purchases on ChoirCommunity) is………..
I wanted to let you all know some great news this week. Gitika Partington has agreed to take the ‘brave’ step of joining ChoirCommunity as both a shareholder and director! As you may know already, she was one of our launch arrangers and has been enormously supportive from the start – since Craig and I went to meet her in London back in early 2017 with the seed of the idea in fact! Since then we have benefited enormously from her boundless energy, positivity and creativity – not to mention her accessible and beautifully crafted arrangements – so it is wonderful that we have been able to turn that into something more tangible.
Gitika is one of the most experienced and respected singer-songwriter-choral arranger-choir leader-educational advisors working today. Her first loves are her choirs and her band (3 Bucket Jones), but she also gets involved in many other ventures, including vocal workshops, masterclasses and festivals.
Gitika will work specifically on helping to promote the choircommunity website and find ways of increasing our reach in the UK and beyond. As a new small business, growing our audience is really the number one priority and Gitika has more ideas about how to do that than Craig and I have had hot dinners combined! I know she will be a fantastic ambassador for the business.
I’m sure you’ll all join me on congratulating her (or us if you think that’s more suitable), on her latest appointment!
It’s no great secret or surprise I’m sure that the biggest challenge we have faced with this venture is the clearance process for copyrighted material. We are extremely proud of our arrangements created from songs in the public domain, but we know that the arrangements which really get hearts racing are those adapted from popular favourites of recent (and not so recent) years.
We have had some success in getting rights-owned songs approved for publication. As of this post, we have 33 cleared titles available on the website. The problem is that it has taken a great deal of effort, time and cost just to get these 33 titles approved.
I am very excited to announce therefore that this is all about to change!
It’s a great feeling when an opportunity seems to just pop up out of nowhere and leads to something really beneficial for all concerned. I happened to see a post on Facebook last week promoting a network event for choir leaders in Surrey. The event was being organised by Polly Murray who runs the Full Circle Vocal Group in Godalming. It looked like a great event so I got in touch to see if there was any way we could support it.
A few days and emails later and we are proudly sponsoring the event, while also providing a discount to anyone who is able to register and attend.
This is just the sort of thing I hope we can do more of in the future. We started up ChoirCommunity to promote and share the positive experience of being part of a choir as much as providing great music to sing. Anything which enables people to come together and do that is definitely something we want to promote.
Do you know of any similar event happening in your area? If so, please get in touch and let us know, either by posting a message here or email us at email@example.com. Alternatively, why not start something up yourself? We would be delighted to talk about supporting you!
So it’s 2019 already – that came around fast! We thought we’d kick off the new year with a focus on the rights-owned content on the site. There’s a couple of reasons for this – firstly we’ve not done it before and secondly, the rights-owned titles on the site are some of the most popular arrangements we’ve put up so far so it seemed like a good idea to put a bit more focus on them.
We have replaced the Christmas Arrangements link on our Home Page with a new ‘Cleared Copyright Arrangements’ link and created a dedicated page just for these titles (The Christmas Arrangements are all still there by the way and you can still access them from our online catalogue if you want to get ahead on Christmas 2019!).
I was thinking to myself why we hadn’t done this before and I realised that it’s probably because in reality, we haven’t been able to achieve what we had originally planned in terms of getting our arrangements of publisher-owned songs up onto the site. The whole process proved to be considerably more drawn-out and problematic than we envisaged and we have climbed a steep learning curve throughout last year in working out how to make it all work better.
Looking back now and reviewing the catalogue of rights-owned titles we have on the site, it’s actually quite pleasing what we did achieve though. Thanks to our friends at 32Music who have helped us with the clearance process since the start, we have 34 titles on the site as we speak and all of them are pretty special arrangements.
In addition to this, I’m hoping to be able to announce some very exciting news in this whole area soon, but that’s for another blog (I hope!).
In the meantime, please do check out what we have been able to licence successfully so far – there really are some absolute gems in there. Also, do let us know what you think of them- we’d love to hear from your experiences.
We’ve added two more simple and lovely arrangements this week – both from two of our newer arrangers.
Wendy Sergeant has created a beautiful version of a traditional Spanish carol ‘A La Nanita Nana‘. The arrangement is extremely versatile as it can be sung in two or three parts and works beautifully accompanied by a guitar or a cappella. This is also makes a great duo of ‘World Music’ carols with Wendy’s other title; ‘Te Harinui’ which comes from New Zealand.
If you’re still in good voice come the New Year, Alison Crutchley has created a simple arrangement of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ for upper voices which would work beautifully at any event to see in 2019!
One of the challenges of any new business is to find new ways of reaching as much of their potential market as possible with a message that sparks interest or resonates with their audience in some way. In these times where we are all constantly bombarded with information practically every moment, it sometimes feels like an impossible task not to be lost in the maelstrom!
We’ve obtained quite a pile of new arrangements this week, covering a broad range of styles and voices. I hope you find something new to try!
We have two new arrangements on the site this week from our launch arranger, Gitika Partington. The first is an addition to our Christmas list – an upbeat (very upbeat!) version of Jingle Bells which I think would liven up any Christmas concert.
The second is a much gentler, and gorgeous song for upper voices which Gitika wrote for a secondary school choir but would be suitable for any ensemble looking for an SSAA arrangement to sing. As Gitika points out, it could also be a great addition to a Christmas or Winter concert as the themes are certainly suitable!
On a more frustrating note, we have had our applications for a number of Faber-owned titles declined this week so they won’t be making their way to the website this year anyway. The clearance process for copyrighted arrangements continues to be challenging and frustrating, but we will continue to work as hard as we can to make as many high quality titles available as possible.
Please do let us know what you think of the Christmas titles, or any others – it’s always great to hear from you!
While we’re still waiting for publishers to clear all the rights-owned arrangements we submitted to them (<sigh>), we’ve added quite a few more arrangements of our own this week.
First and foremost is our first title from a new arranger, Sam Burns. Sam is the choral director of the acclaimed Gurt Lush choir in Bristol and the incredibly handsome (his words) Bristol MAN Chorus. We have added his arrangement of Silent Night (Stille Nacht) which was written to commemorate the Christmas Truce of 1918 and blends the words of this well-known carol in German, French and English to wonderful effect.
It is fantastic to have Sam on board, joining Wendy Sergeant as out newest arrangers and we look forward to getting many more of their arrangements on ChoirCommunity very soon.
Craig has also been busy this week, adding three more traditional carols, but with different twists:
God Rest You Merry Gentlemen is a slightly ‘jazzed up’ version of this classic, using Dave Brubeck’s “Take 5” as a starting point, while Mary Had a Baby has a more ‘gospelly’ vibe. Both of these arrangements have backing tracks available to cater for different availability of resources.
The Angel Gabriel is a more traditional carol with the unique feel you only get from Christmas Carols set in minor keys.
Finally, and not linked to Christmas at all, we’ve added the arrangement for Bring Me Little Water Sylvie. You may have seen the post on our Facebook page of Craig running a staff inset day workshop using this song. By popular demand here it is now available on the website!
..OK, it’s not actually here yet, but like Tesco’s home and garden aisle, choir leaders have to think ahead at this time of year and get prepared. With that in mind, we have launched our Christmas Arrangements page today. It’s not as fully stocked as we would have liked ideally – the process for getting the clearance for rights-owned songs has let us down again – but we hope to improve that situation quickly over the next few weeks.