'Reform and Renewal' workshop for singers

Around thirty singers gathered at St. John’s church in Harpenden on Saturday 23rd September for an afternoon exploring the new RSCM Reform and Renewal book.

This volume contains a wealth of material suitable for choirs of all ability ranges, and various suggestions of how these can be woven into an act of worship, as well as being used singly.




Ably directed by Chris Muhley and Marie Price, with accompaniments from Roger Carter and Nicholas King, much of the repertoire of the book was sung through, ranging from plainsong and Renaissance through to more contemporary offerings, including an attractively approachable setting of the evening canticles commissioned from Malcolm Archer for the book, and the more challenging fare of a setting of the Jubilate by William Mathias.  The emphasis was very much on becoming familiar with the contents of the book rather than on detailed rehearsal.


After a break for tea, a short act of worship took place, led with sensitivity by James Reveley, drawing on some of the items which had been looked at during the afternoon – and one which had not been, just to keep everyone on their toes.

We were very encouraged by the very positive spirit of the occasion, expressed in many warm comments on the feedback forms.  The stock of several dozen spare books which had been brought along sold out as participants purchased sets to take back to their choirs.



Our grateful thanks to Roger Carter for hosting the event, and to all who supported the afternoon.  Those who were not there missed a good occasion, which we shall seek to repeat in our future programme.

Nicholas King






We were pleased to receive 20 feedback forms from the event at Harpenden on 23rd September, representing two-thirds of the participants.  The overall nature of responses was very encouraging.  Here are the highlights.


What do you think of the idea of workshop days?

All responses were favourable, some in very positive terms.  Several people mentioned that it was good to sing with others, and to have a taste of new repertoire.


How did you find out about today’s event?

The majority had heard by e-mail and our web-site; a smaller number by word of mouth, just two on Facebook.  None mentioned Twitter or the flyer.


What did you think of the organization before and on the day?

Almost all responses were positive, including mention of on-line booking.  Easy enrolment and the welcoming atmosphere were also mentioned. The possibility of paying by Paypal was suggested.


What did you think of the choice of this workshop?

Again positive responses, including “huge fun”, “varied and interesting”, the use of new music (“varied” and “challenging”), good location, linking in with a new publication.


What did you think of the cost?

All respondents felt the occasion was good value, especially as it included the cost of the music book.  Several indicated that they would have been prepared to pay more.


Would you attend a similar event in future?  How often should we run them?

 All but one said “yes”, with proposals ranging from annual to quarterly.  Some indicated that this would depend on travel time to the venue, which they appreciated would differ from one occasion to another.


What other events would you like us to run?

There was a much more mixed bag of suggestions here, including some which we already offer (!) such as Regional Evensongs.  No single proposal attracted a significant vote, but Committee is taking all the suggestions on board and considering which may be more viable and attractive.


Any other comments?

Comments here were appreciative, coupled with regret that not more people had supported the event.  Again there were some isolated specific reactions which Committee will bear in mind when planning future events.


Your role/age range of participant

The entire attendance was adult, all but two of whom confessed to being 50 or older.  Only one participant declared as a choir leader and one as an organist; all others were as choristers/singers.


Would you be interested in becoming more involved with the work of your RSCM area?

 Disappointingly, there were no positive responses here.


We intend to provide feedback forms as an integral part of all future events.  They are very useful as an indicator to your Committee and as a guide to future planning, and we shall report back on their content.