Young at heart in Martinborough

With apologies to that marvellously heart-warming movie “Young at Heart”, I’m borrowing its title for my blog entry to tell you about our first gig as the Midday Singers. (I know I’ve used a cliche, but it’s nice to have one’s heart warmed every once in a while.)

I love singing. I took singing lessons all through my secondary school days and I’ve used singing throughout my life to get me through sticky situations. To calm animals for instance. If you’re riding a frisky horse and feeling nervous, singing is a good way to calm him (or her). You can’t sing, and be nervous at the same time. Horses sense when you’re nervous and they misbehave even more, so when you sing, they think you’re in control even when you don’t think you are in control, so they start to settle down and then you can begin to take control. I sing to my chooks and it calms them down – they look out the sides of their little eyes at me and think, ‘what’s she up to then, eh?’.

I used to sing to my babies, and sing nonsense songs to my children when they were little, and we were going on long journeys in the car. When Briar was little she used to love me singing songs about crocodiles: “She sailed away/on a lovely sunny day/on the back of a crocodile/you know said she/it’s as safe as safe can be/floating down the nile/the croc winked his eye/as she waved the world goodbye/wearing a sunny smile/at the end of the ride/the lady was inside/and the smile was on the crocodile.

Then there was another one which started “Never smile at a crocodile/no you can’t get friendly with a crocodile (that’s enough about crocodiles and children. Ed).

I sang when I was scared of the dark. I sang when I was deeply unhappy. I probably should have burst into song when I was being attacked in Parliament – that would have shut them up. Now I sing because I’m blissfully happy. And I have joined a singing group in Martinborough, which started with just six of us and has grown to, at last count, I think 18.

Last week, we had our first house concert. Under the expert musical directorship of Jancis Potter, former head of music at Kuranui College, we practised and practised these songs: Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, Go Down Moses/Joshua Fought the Battle, A Maori Hymn “Tama Ngakau Marie”, An African Hymn “Siya Hamba”, When the Saints/Goodnight Ladies, I’ll Be Your Candle on the Water, Schubert’s “To Music”, and The Rhythm of Life.

We’re an eclectic lot – tenors, altos and sopranos – men and women just singing together because we love it. Ineke accompanies us on guitar for the Cohen piece and it sounds great. For the last piece, Rhythm of Life, Cherry joined Dawn on piano because it’s written for two piano parts and that gave it a bit of zing. Here we all are:singers1

And here are the two pianists:2Pianists1

Then yesterday we did a repeat performance at the local retirement home, Wharekaka, and the residents enjoyed that. One gentleman in particular was especially appreciative, calling out after each item, “lovely, lovely! The sopranos are lovely!” So that went down a treat.

Now we have a break for a month, and Ineke and I are keen – or slightly mad – to plan a show to raise funds for the renovation of the town hall!

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