Travelling through to Dundee on the windiest, rainiest day of the year (albeit only the third day of the year…) would have been totally miserable, if I didn’t have a warm cup of tea and a friendly welcome waiting for me! Once I arrived at Sheena’s, and warmed up, the singing began.
It had been a few months since I had seen Sheena, due to Uni and work commitments, so we had a lot to catch up on. First I sung her my favourite ballad at the moment, Lord Donald – I learnt this from Chris Hendry, who learnt it from Jimmy Hutchison who I believe (but am open to corrections!) learnt it from Jeannie Robertson. I already had a version of this ballad but the tune to this one was far too good to miss – http://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/34221/8. Sheena had some really interesting background information – including a transcription of a version from 16th century Piedmont! It was really interesting to see how little this ballad had changed, despite the time and distance.
It was very helpful to discuss the voice as an instrument. I often forget to look after my voice properly, but as Sheena said; we should look after it as an instrumentalist would care for their instrument. She had some helpful tips for singing when your throat isn’t up to much, the most important being – don’t use it! I also needed advice on pitching songs, sometimes I pitch them just fine but on that day I pitched every song in silly keys I could hardly sing in! Her advice, which I think is true of most things in life, is just to keep practicing and training my voice to pitch in the right keys for me.
Over a very large piece of Christmas cake, Sheena played me some music from her vast collection. She played me some of Jean Redpath’s earlier songs, a couple of which I am planning on learning – Clerk Colvin and Davie and Jeannie. She also played me a band I had heard of, but never actually listened to – Mirk. I really enjoyed the singing of Margie Sinclair and the accompaniment they used.
For our next meeting, I’ll be singing at one of the Lunchtime concerts at the Wighton Heritage Centre. It will be good to get advice on my performance style, as singing in front of an audience feels so different to singing to Sheena in her living room! I have plenty of songs to be learning before then though!