Today, Millman Street Community Centre once again played host to Singing With Heather, the latest in a series of workshops which she runs on Tuesday mornings. The sessions are designed to culminate in an End of Term performance on 28th March. To this end, Heather has been coaching several HCA members in learning several songs.
Norman, Ivy, Queenie, Helena, John, Fred, Olive, Mulegetta and Pat constituted the class. Heather began today’s workshop with some breathing exercises to help our members warm up their voices. One of these consisted of making an indescribable noise (which is handy for something being written about, like a blog for instance). It was a sort of ‘wasp’ buzzing noise [so, not all that indescribable then, hmm? – HCA hack’s old English teacher]. This was followed by a series of “oohs!” which Heather accompanied on the Centre’s much-maligned piano with a scale of notes, before grabbing her trusty ukelele. Members also sang I Love My Doggy (And He Loves Me) over and over as part of their vocal preparations.
Onto the lesson proper, and Heather handed out songsheets with the lyrics to I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair. Verses were alternated; ladies first of course, then gents. In between, Heather enjoyed a fair bit of banter with our members, who had a good laugh as well as learning something. Mulegetta laughed at himself after joining in the wrong verse. Olive also perked up considerably – it seems that singing has a positive effect on her dementia.
The next tune was to be Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, but was changed instead to a song called Sway, with which our members seemed familiar. Again, the verses were sung first by the ladies, then the gents, then all together.
To end the workshop, Heather embarked on a rendition of Why Don’t You Do Right? – a question often asked of this reporter [although Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered also seemed apt]. Although this was in some ways a more sombre, gritty ditty, our members were again in good voice, and at the end, all agreed that they had enjoyed themselves. Ever the gentleman, Norman thanked Heather for her efforts.
Alas, all of her good work on our members’ voices was instantly undone during the following class, Smoking Fags And Gargling With Gravel And Barbed Wire, this reporter’s own controversial experimental workshop [not to be recommissioned – HCA Bosses].
More seriously (or, if you will, less daftly), afterwards Heather spoke briefly about her other work at the Mary Ward Centre, with various choirs, and singing and breathing techniques for kids with heart disease.
While Heather has run her workshops at Millman Street Centre for a year or so, she is also a member of the Sugar Sisters (who performed here just before last Christmas), and also performs her own material in a solo capacity.
All of our members enjoyed today’s workshop; perhaps Ivy summed it up best when she said: “She’s the best we’ve ever had here. Definitely!”
Holborn Community Association would like to thank Heather for providing such enjoyable and inspirational workshops for our members.
To learn more about Heather’s solo music, please go to:
Badly-taken snaps & rambling report by Notes Smudger