‘The voice is the servant of the song’ – I love this expression that Sheena Wellington used in our first Paths to Songs mentoring session. It perfectly sums up the role that of a traditional singer, not to show off your voice but to tell the story of the song. The songs and the stories behind them are so important so just listening to Sheena’s stories and wealth of information was amazing!
Over a cup of tea we discussed several songs, singers and issues in traditional song (and even did a wee bit of singing amongst it all). I sung one of my favourite songs at the moment, The Moon Shined on My Bed Last Night (http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/47421/1) to give Sheena a chance to hear my voice. From just one song the suggestions for songs to learn came flowing in and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into all the songs I have lined up for me!
In a pub quiz style test Sheena got me to try and name different traditional singers from their voices, something I definitely need to practice! This really made me realise how passively I listen to singing sometimes, not listening properly to the distinct sounds of each voice. I’ll have to practice this for next time, should a traditional singing pub quiz ever come up I might have a better chance of winning it!
When Sheena played me a Welsh singer and asked me what she was singing about I was very confused, I panicked for a moment! But it was really interesting to see how I could identify the emotions in the song without having a clue what the words were. This was a really simple and lovely way to make think about getting the emotions of a song across.
I’ve got a pile of songs, resources and singers to listen to for next month. I’m really looking forward to working more with Sheena, I’m grateful to learn from such a great singer and source. I’ve got loads to think about and work on after our first meeting and most importantly – lots to sing!