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Top tips for choirs from leading industry professionals

Oct 09, 2019

The first UK Choir Festival event of 2019 in Manchester may seem like a distant memory, but as we gear up for the next event in St Albans, we take a moment to reminisce.

Hundreds of choristers eagerly bounded into the venue to hear what some of the industry’s experts had to say. From a cappella choirs to gospel choirs, there was something to develop, teach and engage everyone!

With some wonderful and inspirational industry figures in our midst, we couldn’t let the day pass by without asking them just one simple question that would give us something to share with you…


What’s your top tip for choirs?


Emily Dickens – Internationally established soprano and conductor, and full-time member of British vocal ensemble VOCES8:

Top tip: “Be experimental and creative with the voice to find all the different sounds possible and listen for the dead air between beats.”


Dominic Ellis-Peckham – Chorus director, conductor, presenter and educator:

Top tip: “Listening is everything… leave everything else at the door!”



Mat Wright – Teacher, conductor, composer and founder of the award-winning Barnsley Youth Choir:

Top tip: “Audiences will always forgive a wrong note but never a lack of energy, commitment and passion. Communicate the story of a piece by creating a personal image and allow yourself the freedom to express this, whilst also striving for technical accuracy.”


Carla Jane – Award-winning vocalist, choir director and workshop leader for gospel choirs and church vocal groups:

Top tip: “‘Sing it like you mean it’. Sometimes we sing songs and we don’t give it the expression that it needs, we don’t tell the story. Listeners love to be ‘moved’ by a choral performance and we have to find the best ways to do this with clarity and passion as we communicate the story within the song.”


Richard Eteson – Accomplished tenor, former member of The Swingle Singers and co-founder of the London A Cappella Festival:

Top tip: “Continual refinement – you can never stop improving, no matter how old you are or how many years you’ve been singing. You can always refine more and learn more. Also listen and have fun!”


Ula Weber – Conductor, teacher trainer and workshop leader:

Top tip: Don’t be scared of harmonising, as in don’t be scared of singing something that isn’t just the tune. Explore what your voice can do, explore different sounds and play around with it. And don’t worry too much about the dots in front of you – some choirs use music, some choirs don’t. But even if you don’t read music, you can still look at what’s on the page and how the text matches various notes.


Russell Scott – Producer, vocal coach, singer and creator of the UK Choir Festival:

Top tip: “Listen to each other as well as yourself. Try to work out not just how you’re singing and what you’re singing, but what sound you’re making, what you’re contributing and what it feels like to make a sound. It’s not just about the sound that’s coming out of your mouth at the time, but what does it feel like to make the sound and how can you change that sound?”


We can’t wait for the next event in St Albans! Will you be there? If not, don’t worry, we’ll be sharing more top tips from workshop leaders with you after the event. So keep your eyes peeled on our Twitter feed for all the live updates!