On the Weekend of 22nd/23rd September we welcomed Dr Amy Bebbington to Barnsley. Usually when we have a choral conductor come to Barnsley we are working towards a special concert or event but this weekend was quite different as the focus was on developing the musicianship of both the Senior Choir and the Musical Team in a series of workshops.
Amy trained at Texas Tech University (USA) and was there awarded Doctor of Musical Arts, specialising in Choral Conducting. She is currently the Director of Training for the Association of British Choral Directors and runs training days for conductors all over the UK. She has also worked with the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain and is in great demand as a choral adjudicator, clinician and teacher.
It puts into perspective how lucky Barnsley Youth Choir were to have her come up from London to lead these workshops.
On the Saturday she worked with our Senior Choir and the workshops were filled with her great enthusiasm and energy. Amy had the choir singing and moving to folk, gospel and classical songs in Finnish, Zulu and many other languages. The movement was fun to do but had an important and clear purpose in physicalizing fundamental aspects of music. There was a great moment where a few individual choir members were controlling the choir by walking back and forth across a beanbag ladder set out on the floor!
The next morning, the leaders of the Senior Choir and the Musical team of all three choirs came together to take part in a conducting workshop. Although Amy was feeling a bit under the weather, she still gave the most fantastic class. It began with a group exercise in basic conducting technique and then the leaders formed a choir for the Musical Team to take turns to conduct. We only used Hallelujah, a very simple song, but Amy worked her magic on the M.D. team in a short space of time.
It was clear to see from the weekend that Amy Bebbington is highly skilled in teaching and training musicians of any level. We hope to see her again in the near future, with a view to her giving workshops to all the choirs.