A Report From Last Night’s Rehearsal

We are two weeks out from our big concert for the year. This year I’ve decided to really push them – we’re doing a concert of jazz and swing standards, accompanied by a 9 piece jazz band. Next week is our only full rehearsal with the band before the concert the following week.

Jean and I listened to The Comedic Harmonists on the drive last night. She fed me salted peanuts and we talked about an upcoming visit she had been asked to make to the local primary school.

“They want me to come and answer questions about how this town has changed throughout the years. But I’ve only lived here 48 years!” I’ll never be completely at home in this place. If someone who’s been here that long still doesn’t consider themselves an insider, what hope is there for me? Not that I’m requiring hope. There’s a lot about this town that drives me mad and I’m not sure that being an insider here would be any sort of badge of honour. Jean was in a sweet reflective mood last night – it must have been The Comedic Harmonists bringing out the romantic in her. Today is her 48th wedding anniversary. Her husband Murray died two years ago. He sounds like he was a real sweetheart. Jean’s been watching videos of the two of them singing together at parties –

“On the baby’s knockle, on the baby’s knee
Where will the baby’s dimple be?
Baby’s cheek or baby’s chin
Seems to me it’ll be a sin
if it’s always covered by the safety-pin
Where will the dimple be?”

She marvels when I tell her that I don’t know these songs. I never do.

Earlier in the week Vicky came to rehearse her solo. She is beyond excited and I think is making another full circle skirt to wear on the night. She must have a lot of spare fabric that needs using up. She has been a hard nut to crack. She feels hard, defensive, sad. But this concert. This is her time. Her moment has arrived. We sing through her song and it’s fine. She’s clearly working very hard. “I’ve been just so excited since you mentioned this concert idea”, she said in her quavery voice. “I’ve always wondered what it would be like to sing with a band. I think I should have been a singer. But you know, you get married, then there’s a house, then there’s kids, and dreams just….”

Her voice trailed off and her eyes filled. Busying herself with her bag she continued – “so after Harry went I thought now’s my time.” Her shoulders clenched and she turned around to look at me.

“I’m just so excited.”

Rehearsal went well last night. They are learning to breathe as a group, which is doing wonders for morale, not to mention ensemble. “Do you want the clicks in Bye Bye Blackbird?” asked Peter. I did. Peter is one of our very few music readers in the group, and so clicked where it was marked on the score – on beats 2 and 4. Bill couldn’t hold himself back and so joined in with a neat clap. It’s taken a while to teach some of the choristers how to groove, and Bill is one of them. He likes to clap on 1 and 3.


The piece suddenly felt like an old Clydesdale heading for home. I let it go. I have to choose my battles, and I felt that this one of would naturally work itself out once we were with the band.

Dee is back at choir after a few months way. Her Parkinson’s has gotten the better of her. The last time I saw her was when Lily, my daughter, was two weeks old. She came blustering in my front door, overflowing with joy and excitement, taking photos of me breastfeeding and then asking if it was ok to take photos, then saying it didn’t matter what my answer was, she thought the photos were lovely and it’s such a special and wonderful thing you’re doing, isn’t it? She charmed my best friend Jacqui with her love of EVERYTHING.

She’s on a walking frame now and her pallor is grey. She’s not the Dee I’ve known. We’ll have to organise a chair for her to sit in for the concert as well as a music stand for her music – she isn’t strong enough to hold it herself – but she’ll be there and that’s what counts. She made some absolutely epic mistakes last night – coming in a whole beat early, all by herself, an unintended solo. Whenever she does this she just laughs and smiles. She doesn’t care. She’s just happy to be there and singing. She is loved by everybody.

David has been seeing skirts for the ladies who don’t have any appropriate clothes at home to wear for the concert. He has appointed himself master of costumes for this concert. Good. I don’t have the brain space. He has taken on responsibility of costuming almost all the ladies. He has approximately 15 living dolls to play with. Everyone is thrilled by this arrangement.

Greg is coming to practise his solo this afternoon. He doesn’t know it yet but I’m going to ask him to MC the concert. He’s in his seventies and has a charming mix of confidence and awkwardness that I know the audience will love. He likes coming to my house for a practice. The house we’re living in was built by his grandparents. He and his mum lived in a humpy out the back. Darren, my husband, tore down the humpy when he bought this place. It had a dirt floor and small bunk beds five high, with hessian sacks for privacy. Greg’s eyes shine when he talks about living here.

Next week will be big – costume parades and big bands!

Have a great week, more News when next I see you. x


2 thoughts on “A Report From Last Night’s Rehearsal

  1. This is beautiful. I think I’d like to come to the concert. I can see these ‘essays’ collected in a Herriot-like book. keep up the great work – the choir wrangling AND the writing! much love. Grandy.


  2. I love this. It’s a reminder of why we do what we do, to whatever standard, and a reminder of how happy and healthy music makes us. Love.


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