My first two weeks… as a MAASer

The six MAASers (Music Animateur Apprentices) came together for the first time for our training day last week. Phil Mullen, our incredible leader for group work and leadership, described us as “the Marines of music leadership”, which is a bit scary! Phil’s session made me think about lots of aspects of working with groups that I haven’t consciously considered before – even if you naturally do them without thinking about it. It’s so good to be aware of things like how groups form, and how to make a good atmosphere in a session. I came away very inspired.

“The last week has been so inspiring that I find myself thinking about workshops all the time. My subconscious is trying to plan sessions for me!”

In the afternoon James Redwood led a session of songs and games to add to our workshop leader’s toolbox. I loved watching him work, particularly the little ways he encourages a group, like imagining eating a whole bottle of E numbers and having scary “E number eyes” to re-energize! We ended up with so many activities that our heads were all buzzing by the time we left, and fragments of songs were going round my head for days, which is great.

A few days later I attended my first project session with Women sing East, led by the amazing Laka D. The choir are all so nice and friendly, but most of all they are so enthusiastic about and committed to singing. As a classical singer I have never learned by ear and it was so refreshing to see Laka teach this way, and to hear the choir learn by repetition and building up of parts. It really built a sense of togetherness and by the end of the rehearsal the first song was already sounding really good. I look forward to becoming more involved in the group and learning more songs – it sounds like a very exciting term!

The last week has been so inspiring that I find myself thinking about workshops all the time. My subconscious is trying to plan sessions for me! In the next few weeks and months I’m going to try to shadow as many people in the world of opera and vocal leadership as possible. As well as learning a wide variety of approaches, games and songs, and making contact with people in the industry, I am also looking to see similar threads and progressions between activities so I can learn how sessions are planned and built up. I’m also beginning my second project, Madrigals & Fables with a Year 3 class, in a few weeks and I can’t wait to get started!

Penny Desbruslais
Music Animateur Apprentice

See the results of our MAASer’s project in Madrigals & Fables on Wednesday 15 December at 12.30pm, Christ Church Spitalfields.

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