2014 in review

1 Jan

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,200 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 53 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Do you wanna build a snowman?

7 Dec

Hi everyone

Hope you all enjoyed singing in Edinburgh yesterday. From the Facebook photos it looked like you had a fun-packed day. One question though, has the dress code changed? I could see you all looking smart in your concert attire of black with a splash of red, but there also seemed to be a hint of paper antlers? I think they should be kept for the concert, after all they could be this year’s sweaty clapper ūüėČ

Anyway I’m glad you all enjoyed yourselves on the Santa train. It’s a shame that the main man (Gary that is, not Santa. I know you met Santa) couldn’t have been with you. But it looks like Mark is doing a grand job of keeping the Inspiration family fun going, and I’m sure he’ll be doing his usual magic of conducting / playing the piano / mouthing the words /¬†nodding his head to keep time. Whoever says that ¬†men can’t multi-task, obviously hasn’t met our Mark. Well done Mark and best wishes for the big concert day.

So with no Gary for a little while that means¬†Gary Bingo will have to rollover to next year. Anyone who was sweating for either “hands on knees, your own knees” or “whatever is sliding down your face in the concert don’t wipe it off” will have to wait. Rest up at home Gary and get well soon. I know you’ll be upset to miss out, but we need you well and fixed.

I wasn’t able to go to last Wednesday’s rehearsal, so I missed Mark taking a full run through of the concert. I hope you were successful in getting through it all by heart? I’m not sure what the difficult numbers are this year. Is there a nemesis the size of ‘Scotland the Brave’ or ‘that Christmas Welsh one’? I know I’d been getting my shepherds and angels muddled, and in parts some things ring, whilst¬†others¬†sing. Plus there’s only one angel who goes ‘ooh ooh ooh ooh, ooh ooooooooh’ and I had mistakenly thought there was a host of them. But for me none of this word learning matters now, as I recently¬†found out that I can’t do the¬†concert.





I know it’s crazy, but I don’t get to finish anyone’s sandwiches, rise up a shepherd,¬†or sing ‘Gloria, Gloria’. I’ll be home alone, taking the wistfulness of ‘Do you wanna build a snowman’ to another level.


Me at home pretending that I'm in the Christmas concert

At¬†home pretending that I’m in the Christmas concert


Unfortunately I’ve got to have another operation on my back, and it’s on the 16th December (4 days before the Sage concerts). I wasn’t expecting this and had hoped to be included in all the singing activities. But as I said last time I missed stuff, and the time before the last time, there’s always next time.

So have fun in the run up to Christmas and of course in the concerts. If I can I might try to come along to the dress rehearsal or afternoon performance. I really wanted to sing the ‘Frozen Medley’, but I’ll have to let it go and hopefully will be able to hear it fully polished and orchestrated instead.

If I can get to the concert, you never know I might be able to blog about it from an audience¬†perspective. It’ll be just like being part of it, but without the cake, the chocolates, the dressing room selfies, and of course the singing!

See you all soon. Best wishes to Mark for the big day and get well soon Gary.

Oops and Happy Christmas too.

Lorraine xx



Slow stand …….. not that slow!

23 Nov

Hi everyone

This week’s weird warm ups began with¬†scales. Nothing new there really, but it’s been a while since we added numbers and ‘do-re-mi’ into the mix.¬†We progressed from ‘one, one-two,¬†one-three’ with the one side of the choir being the ‘ones’ and the other side continuing up to ‘eight’. It was quite difficult and took some concentration. As did the silent ‘three’, which was silent for most of us although I’m sure I heard a¬†‘THr…oops’ from the other side of the room.

We hadn’t been doing this for very long when it became obvious that we’d lost the interest of one of the basses.


A well supported yawn from the Phantom Yawner caused a stir

A well supported yawn from the Phantom Yawner caused a stir


After the yawning kerfuffle we moved on to ‘Do-Re-Mi’ as in ‘doe a deer a female deer…..ray a drop of golden sun …….. tea I have at five ‘cos I’m not posh’ etc.¬†It was difficult to sing a ‘one-seven’ or a ‘So’ without going through the whole scale first. By the time I’d got to ‘So’ in my head we’d moved onto something else. It would have been weird of me to be singing out ‘Fa’ when everyone else was taking ‘Five’. Which has just reminded me of something I’d forgotten (handy that), at the start of the warm ups Gary was shouting out random parts of the body – ‘neck – throat – chest ………… ears …….. little toe’. Now it was either to relax which ever part was named, or it was to breathe into that part of the body. Anyway it was rather weird and wonderful, and relaxed raised a titter or two.

We did some work to slidify (that’s a new word for Gary Bingo)¬†the change of pace in ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’. Then we moved on to our new number ‘A Baby Changes Everything’ in which we will be backing singers for¬†Sara.


Backing singers eh?

Backing singers eh?


We sang our new ‘Ahs’ and ‘Hallelujahs’¬†as best as we could. Summed up by Gary as “Don’t worry Sara, it’ll sound a lot better than this!”¬†But the real fun began with his instruction for us to do a slow stand when we start to sing. “As slow as possible” was his original instruction.


The women approached the slow stand cautiously

The women approached the slow stand cautiously



Whilst the men are still sitting there

Whilst the men are still sitting there


The slow as possible instruction was quickly replaced, because it was quite evident that nobody was going to be the first to move.


Eeee Vera this backing singing isn't too bad is it?

Eeee Vera this backing singing isn’t too bad is it?


Gary gave a slow-motion geriatric demonstration of how not to do a slow stand, holding onto his back and easing himself off the seat slowly. In the end he decided on a exaggerated scooping ‘stand up slowly but not that slow’ gesture, which I think we mastered.

Then we did a full run through without books as far as possible, but relying on them at times. I sat out for the last few numbers as my back was hurting, although I have to add this was nothing to do with my attempt at the slow stand. It sounded really good and it was a nice treat to be able to hear the choir as a whole.

Next week we are going for another full run through, and soon no doubt it’ll be By Heart Week. Time is creeping up on us and it won’t be too long before the concert, so best that I¬†move into the advanced¬†brain washing and word learning stage.

I can’t believe it’ll be Christmas soon!

See you all next week.

Lorraine x


A week of hissing, more sheep, and of course Frozen

15 Nov

Hi everyone

This week’s weird warm ups included one of our old favourites of¬†finding your diaphragm muscle (after much feeling about) and hissing. The idea was to keep your shoulders,¬†neck and throat relaxed, engage your diaphragm, and hiss 3 times. It was all going along swimmingly until Gary started pointing at people who were doing it incorrectly. Yes you guessed it. Who did he pick on first? Me! He¬†was very subtle about it though, ever so subtle, when he pointed and said that my shoulders were going up and down, and not¬†staying relaxed. I grappled around for a¬†good excuse, but unfortunately¬†the best I could come up with was¬†“it’s¬†my bra”. I’m still at a loss as to why I said that, but moving on¬†I don’t think he¬†heard me anyway.¬†He¬†was too busy doing a Tommy Cooper¬†‘just like that’ impersonation of how not to do the exercise.

I wasn’t alone in being pointed out, so that’s some consolation. The thing is you never really know what you look like when you’re doing these exercises. I always assumed that I looked pretty daft, but never really thought I’d¬†gone the whole hog and resembled¬†Tommy Cooper ūüėČ

Anyway I’ll be ready and waiting when we next hiss again, and I’ll definitely put into practise the things I’ve learnt:


  • relax a bit more
  • don’t stand on the front row
  • stop smoking cigars in rehearsals


Gary enjoyed taking the hiss out of us, whilst we were making the hiss  [photo from Wikipedia]

Gary enjoyed taking the hiss out of us, whilst we were making the hiss
[photo from Wikipedia]


In ‘Rise Up Shepherd and Follow’ the sopranos and altos had a competition over¬†the sexy¬†notes in bar 10.



The altos always win with the dirty low notes
From: http://www.mille-soeren.dk



It was a good week for anyone playing Gary Bingo, and¬†a new word ‘SUPER’ will be added for next week. In ‘Rise Up Shepherd’ to help the men go from woolly to super we played around with the herds of sheep, lambs, ewes and rams in Baaaaaaa 40. A line on Gary Bingo was called with “put the music down men, as it hasn’t helped before”. It wasn’t long before¬†the men were word perfect and super.

Then onto the ‘Frozen Medley’. We started off the ‘Na na na hey ya na’ in a very posh way. Gary stopped us for sounding¬†too¬†choral,¬†almost as if¬†we were singing the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ he said. ‘Na-na-lujah’ anyone? I think it might catch on. In the end by doing a¬†Hilda Ogden impersonation and going all nasal, we were able to get the ‘na na’ bits all punchy and with¬†kicking consonants.

We practised the interjection in bar 60, starting¬†from where the men sweetly sing ‘I mean it’s crazy’. Our reply of ‘WHAT’ was at first a little too harsh, in fact it was described as¬†being ‘too busy housewife shouting at the kids’.



It was good to learn sections of ‘Frozen’ by rote, with the books first, then with the books lying on the floor at the right page, and eventually¬†off the books. So by the end of the rehearsal it wasn’t too shocking to attempt a full run through of ‘Frozen’ by heart. Nobody harshly shouted ‘WHAT???’ or shrugged their shoulders in a ‘just like that’ way. We were all up for the challenge and give or take the odd ‘Na na’ or ‘hey ya na’ we did it.

We all left feeling happy and singing ‘Let it go’ and ‘Do you wannna build a snowman’ to ourselves. Not sure about you, but I feel like a right diva singing these songs and I love it ūüėČ

See you all next week and happy word learning.

Lorraine xx



Gloria Gloria and a canny few sheep

1 Nov

Hi everyone

I enjoyed Wednesday’s rehearsal, it was fun wasn’t it? I especially liked the bit at the start just before¬†our¬†warm-ups. We were all poised and waiting to hum along to ‘Silent Night’, and then a phone started ringing. After the obligatory pantomime “ooohs” we all¬†looked to blame one another, and then decided it must be¬†Susie. Poor Susie who was sitting on her own feeling¬†ill with a pre-Christmas sore throat and cold, minding her own business but now¬†with 300 people pointing at her.


Hoy you in lurgy corner switch off the phone

Switch off the phone you sitting up there on skid row,  lurgy corner


Susie took it in good spirit (purely medicinal) and quickly got back to her game of Angry Birds.

Gary was ready for a full rehearsal and he certainly put us through our paces. To be honest I wasn’t really in a singing mood, but by break time I was singing my heart out like the rest of you.


From Grumpy to Disney Diva in one rehearsal

From Grumpy to Disney Diva in one rehearsal


When we reached ‘Gloria H’ as it’s called in my file index. That’s H for Hamilton by the way, and not Hunniford as I always like to think of it. I was cursed with fumbling hands and kept turning over 2 pages at once. So I was getting even more confused with instructions to take it from Gloria Gloria which is just before Gloria Gloria. I’d only listened to the Alto track so hadn’t realised how sparkly it gets when we all sing together, especially when it all kicks off (sorry about my music terminology) just after the Gloria Glorias.

I like the gospel feel of ‘Rise Up Shepherd and Follow’ and us¬†gravel-voiced Altos have some sexy¬†low notes. Hooray! Gary did one of his mnemonic tricks to help the men remember the order of sheep from¬†Baaaa 44. SLER – Sheep – Lambs – Ewes – Rams.


Us ladies will just follow ewes

Us ladies will just follow ewes


We sang¬†all of ‘Frozen ‘ for Gary to hear and see the results of Mark’s hard work last week. It’s obvious¬†that this is going¬†to be an Inspiration favourite, and I reckon it will already be sounding great. Speaking of ‘Frozen’ did you see that clip of Robbie Williams and his wife? Well Robbie bless him wanted to soothe her with his singing whilst she was in labour. She was¬†very polite given the circumstances!



After the break Gary announced that he wanted to do a full run through of the concert. We replied in unison with a squeaky WHAT! using exactly the voice that the ladies have to use in ‘Frozen’. But this wasn’t high jinks, he was deadly serious. Luckily we were allowed to use our books at this stage. We had to skip a few numbers because we were running out of time, but managed to do ‘Frozen’ again and to squash in the long but nice¬†‘Pure Light’.

So that was our first taster of the concert as a whole,¬†and I think it’s nice to have an idea of it so early on. It means we can start to get¬†fit for our two¬†performances, as it is a¬†‘big sing’ as many in the choir say. I came out of the rehearsal slightly less grumpy and with a better idea of which numbers to focus on all of them. It’s also given me enough time to search out and¬†break in a pair of comfortable concert shoes. I might even splash out for a pair of black slippers for the second performance ūüėČ


Happy word learning …… shoe searching …… pre-concert dieting.

See you all next week.

Lorraine xx



The night of many key changes

11 Oct

Hi everyone

It’s been a long time since I’ve done any weird warm ups, so it was good to be reminded of an¬†old favourite the “Vvvvv, Zzzzz, FffftT” one. I always find this exercise difficult and funny in equal measures.¬†It’s funny because I have to¬†try very hard¬†not to laugh¬†at the screwed up faces of my friends around me (during the exercise I mean, not before it even starts I must clarify). I also like to¬†imagine¬†how weird it must¬†all¬†sound to¬†any non-Inspirationer who happens to be passing. Take for¬†example one of the members of Slimming World on their way to the class next door.


“Vvvvvv”……………………….. [Slimmer: What was that?] ………………………….”Zzzzzzzz” …………………………[There it is again] ……….. “Zzzzzzzzzzz”……………..¬†[What the……..? ] ..¬†“FffffT”


Even though I’ve been attempting these exercises for a number of years, I still find them¬†difficult. But I did concentrate and¬†give them a good attempt. I even tried to take written notes on locating your diaphragm, but I wasn’t able to get much down on paper¬†as my hands were full¬†looking for¬†boney lumps ūüėČ

We started to swing our quavers in preparation for some Gospel singing. I thought we might be in for some cowboy stance loin-girding, but that joy must be coming to us another time.


Swing your Nar Nars like no-one is watching

Swing your Nar Nars like no-one is watching


Gary had already thanked Mark for taking last week’s rehearsal in his absence. He was dying to hear all our hard work on¬†the opening of ‘Frozen’ – that Geordie bit y’knaa? In a change to our usual schedule Gary asked Mark to swap places, and for him to lead us in our chanting, whilst Gary played piano. “I’ll be fine” Gary quipped en route to the piano “it’s a cappella”.¬†

He was able to nick Mark’s jokes too, such as giving the sopranos a high B as their starter note. He did well, give or take the odd “oops”, nothing at all like Les Dawson. For the young¬†‘uns here’s¬†a taster clip of Les/Gary as next week’s a cappella accompanist.




As soon as we started singing I realised that although I kind of know the ‘Frozen’ Alto line, I had forgotten the sound and pronunciation of the¬†words. This was down to the fact that I had been listening to the track whilst driving, or in the bath, or washing the dishes. All times when I didn’t have the music in front of me. On top of that I had also been singing my own mash up of real words and Geordie words, which I regretted immediately whilst trying to sing it properly in rehearsal. I was genuinely shocked when I heard the men starting with the correct words, as my version was¬†something like “haha howay¬†ya bugger. Aye ya Naaa”. So that’s a good lesson for me to stop messing on, and to¬†learn the words and music together.

I think it all sounded good in the end and Mark seemed pleased. He loves Disney now you know and this is the reason why. He played a trick on his girlfriend Angela when they were out on a picnic, and just so happened to ‘bump into’ a photographer friend of his. He convinced her to mime and dance with him to ‘Love is an open door’ and this was the surprise outcome.



So that explains the leap from Sonata Arctica to Disney. He’s an old romantic isn’t he?

The winner of the song most likely to go ‘by heart’ the earliest¬†this term goes to ‘Jesus, Light of the World’ by next week. I might be alright with this, not only as there¬†are no Geordie chants in it,¬†but also because I won’t be at the rehearsal. I’ll give you a clue where I’m going …….


Everything the light touches is known as Sunderland

Everything the light touches is known as Sunderland


The remainder¬†of the rehearsal was taken with the many key changes in ‘Pure¬†Light’. So many key changes that even Westlife might not be able to step up to them. I think this¬†will be a brainwashing number. At the minute the only thing that sticks in my mind is the massive “ahs” in bar 150 – TICK – I’ve got that one ūüėČ

I had to leave early to watch the Great British Bake Off so didn’t get a chance to sing ‘Pure Light’ all the way through (and in order), but waiting outside for my lift I could hear it very clearly and it sounded lovely. I’m sure there’ll soon¬†be a crowd of seasonally confused ‘Trick or Treaters’¬†gathered outside for a freebie concert.

I’ll see you in a few weeks time.¬†I’ve put myself in the mood for an impromptu practise session now. If only I could¬†waterproof my music file, I’d be able to sing in the bath AND learn the correct words. Now that would be progress.

Happy bathing word learning.

Lorraine xx

Do you wanna sing an earworm?

3 Oct

Hi everyone

Well this is weird. It’s my 1st blog post of 2014 and the year is almost over. I can’t believe it’s nearly Christmas already, but here we are in our 2nd week of rehearsals. Just to confuse things further I missed last week’s rehearsal, thus the reason it’s¬†my 1st and not 2nd post of 2014. Anyway back to business.

I’ve missed a few concerts, so it’s lovely to be¬†Bach back¬†singing. It took me a little while to get my bearings. Over the year I’d missed out on exciting trips like New York, I wasn’t up to speed on any¬†of the gossip, and to top it all I didn’t even know if I was an upstairs or a¬†downstairs lady.


Most definitely downstairs. M'dear.

Most definitely downstairs M’dear.


Gary wasn’t very well this week and was unable to take the rehearsal. This¬†meant not only no Gary, but of course no Gary Bingo. Let’s hope he’s feeling better now and he’s fighting fit for next week.

So¬†Mark took the rehearsal on his own – piano playing and conducting too. He’s very clever isn’t he? He was unbooted and ready for us in his socks (not just his socks of course, but you know what I mean). After a few quick warm ups we were straight into ‘Frozen’, which it seems Mark is now really into. He knows all the words and has seen it¬†a thousand times.¬† We all know¬†Mark loves a bit of Disney chanting and weird words, so he relished showing us our first ‘Frozen’ challenge.

It might sound like¬†Geordie, but it isn’t – ‘na’.¬†It’s actually from a Norwegian Hymn, I bet you didn’t know that before – ‘na na na hey……. ya na’. Here’s a YouTube video of it, just say ‘No-a’ if you don’t want to watch it, but if ‘ah na hey yu’ then you probably will right ‘nu wa na’.



Then we were introduced to some new¬†earworms, which are both in ‘Frozen’ – ‘Do you wanna build a snowman’ and later in ‘Let it go’. So that’s what we’ll all be kept awake¬†with¬†for the next month or so. Mind you saying that I couldn’t get ‘Pure Light’ out of my head today. I found myself humming the ‘Pure Light’ tune¬†at work, which is a bit of shame seeing as I couldn’t remember it in the rehearsal. Don’t you just hate it when that happens!

There was an Inspiration first in the break when the queue for the auditions was longer than the queue for the toilet.


The queue for the ensemble auditions

The queue for the ensemble auditions


We sorted out some of the key changes in ‘Pure Light’ and have at least found an excuse if we are discordant -“hey it’s close enough for jazz” which can of course be followed up with a confident¬†‘Hey ya, na ya No-a’.

In the last Carol of the night I couldn’t get the words out quick enough, so¬†forever in my mind it¬†will be¬†‘God Rest You Gerry, Mentalmen’. Mark taught us some new musical terms and checked our pulse was ok. But he couldn’t decide if we were a car crash or a clash in parts.

That’s all from me for this week. I’ve downloaded the mp3s to my phone and the CD is in my car, and so begins the word learning. I might even get my highlighters out next week, not that it helps me to remember I just still really like colouring things with fluorescent pen.

See you next week. Happy word learning!

Lorraine x



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