Learning, singing and a Tenby lugger


February on Planet Claudia has good and bad qualities.  On the one hand it’s still cold enough to wear three layers plus mittens, along with the cloud of guilt permanently hovering at not having started any work on the boat yet, let alone tidying up the garden.  On the plus side, this is the month for my two day singing workshop with Maddy Prior and Abbie Lathe at the fabulous Rhosygilwen concert hall near Cardigan.  At the risk of repeating the content of last year’s blog, there’s something truly inspirational about harmony singing.  Knowing little (well, nothing) about music theory, it’s a mystery to me how three or four parts of a song can come together and produce something that’s bigger and better than all the individual pieces.   

Now I’m as guilty as anyone of watching  tv talent shows occasionally, but they do reinforce the myth that people are either extremely talented or completely hopeless.  In other words, if you’re not Somebody, you’re Nobody.  No wonder the cult of celebrity has young people mesmerised; nobody wants to be themselves anymore, they want to be somebody else.  Somebody prettier, thinner, richer, famous.   Most of us are hungry for song, but few will sing for pleasure; we’d rather stay silent and plug in the ipod.   Whilst nothing beats the joy of listening to professional musicians singing live or on cd, that’s only the part of what music is for.  It’s a revelation to find that everyone’s voice can be coaxed out and improved, with technique and a bit of work.  Even mine.   According to Abbie, it’s about supporting your own voice, silencing the inner critic, and trying to be the best you can be, rather than giving up because you can’t sing like somebody else.  In singing as in life, nobody else can make a success of being you except you.

Oops, that wasn’t meant to be a lecture. 

Learning and teaching are both satisfying experiences.  As well as the regular Wednesday watercolour classes this week, I also helped Chris Stephens deliver a one day workshop to schoolteachers.  It’s not often my skills as artist and maritime historian are both required at the same time, but the content of the workshop was about weaving Welsh culture and heritage into the school curriculum in as many learning styles as possible.  It was a hugely enjoyable day; my main input was a session teaching the teachers about the Tenby lugger by learning how to paint one in watercolour.  Much hilarity followed, but everyone acquitted themselves well, even those unfamiliar with watercolour techniques. 


Why a Tenby lugger?  For one thing, they’re easier to draw than a larger ship such as a schooner or brig, and it’s topical in that the ever valiant and resourceful West Wales Maritime Heritage Society is about to begin restoring the last remaining example of a Tenby lugger in Pembroke Dock.  Have a look at their website www.wwmhs.org.uk to find out more, especially if you have any ideas for fundraising. 

Finally, we’re off to the RYA Volvo Dinghy Show next weekend, so the house is filling up with boxes of  ‘stuff’ to take.  It’s an enjoyable show, with a great atmosphere, and we’re looking forward to catching up with everyone.   New for this year will be more jewellery, the new log books and sketch books and of course a new fridge magnet or two!


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