Singet, the a capella Group of Surrey Heath Singers, visited Hammond Junior School, Lightwater on Wednesday, 13th November 2019 to support their Assembly and give a workshop. Hammond School’s Director of Music, Robin Langdon, holds a musical Assembly every four weeks and is keen to introduce new approaches to music so that the years 3 and 4, numbering about 150, experience different possibilities for singing.
Singet, led by Crispin, with sopranos Pam, Madeleine and Sylvia, alto Peggy and Tenor Matthew joined in with a “feel good” chorus written by Robin. Then Singet presented the harmony version of The Jungle Book Bare Necessities arranged by Nicholas Hare. It was quite obvious from the reaction of the children that they were delighted to listen to the performance. We were asked for a reprise as the children left for their first lesson.
The workshop started with a very well-schooled group of about 25 children who responded with astonishing comprehension to warm-up exercises. The group moved on quickly to introduce a traditional Zulu song, Si Njay Njay Njay arranged by L‘Estrange and McSweeney. The obvious connotations of a Zulu warrior chant seemed to appeal to the children, although the meaning of the words is “Things are as they are because of prayer. Our ancestors – they used to pray”.
After several rounds of the Zulu chant which was repeated for the benefit of visiting parents, there was clearly an appetite for one more number. The Java Jive, as recorded by Manhattan Transfer completed the workshop with a perceptible appreciation from the children. A number of the children addressed questions to Singet without prompting about how we made music in that style and how long it took to achieve a capella singing showing that their interest had been kindled.