"Number Ones" project
Time & Location
About the Event
THIS EVENT IS NOW CLOSED TO NEW REGISTRATIONS. Please check back again later, as we're hoping to run a similar project starting late April/early May 2021.
This spring, we're running a special project, bringing people together to sing, without anyone having to leave their home. Since the first lockdown in March 2020, we've been working on ways for people to make music together, and we've run several projects with our own choir, BeVox, that have helped us hone what we can offer. We'd like to invite you to join us for this new endeavour - singing and recording a collection of Number One songs, which we'll release as an album.
How it works
If you sign up to take part, you'll receive the sheet music and rehearsal tracks by post. We'll have an initial welcome session via Zoom, in which you can meet Tim (your conductor) and ask any questions you may have. There will then be a few weeks before we begin regular weekly online sessions. You will begin learning your music by listening to the rehearsal tracks (and using the sheet music if this is helpful to you). Once weekly online sessions begin, we'll work on two or three songs at a time. In the Zoom sessions, you will be muted (so no-one will hear you sing), but you'll be singing along with our custom rehearsal tracks, so you'll have a professional session singer singing your part along with you. You'll also be actively encouraged to unmute yourself to ask questions or request to go over bits again, so the learning process is two-way. You can also send questions or requests by email between the sessions, and your input will help shape how the sessions are delivered. The majority of our online sessions will be tailored specifically for your voice part, so every part of the session is relevant for you. We will also have some Zoom sessions where we'll bring everyone together, which is great for a bit of socialisation, but also allows us to work on aspects that affect the whole choir, such as dynamics, interpretation, phrasing, and technique. Throughout the process, we'll support you to be self-evaluating - listening closely to your own singing so you become more aware of where you need additional help from us.
When you're ready, you can start recording your contributions to the album. To do this, you just need a device with a microphone, such as your phone, tablet, or a computer/laptop with a webcam or built-in microphone (if you're using a phone or tablet to record with, you'll need a separate device to watch the conductor videos on, such as a laptop or computer, or another phone or tablet). You'll also need headphones or earphones that will connect to the device you're watching the conductor videos on. You send your recordings to us, and we mix them all together to create the sound of a whole choir. At the end of the project, we'll have an album, which we'll share with you (on CD or USB memory stick), and which we'll make available for sale to the general public.
- Printed sheet music of bespoke arrangements written especially for this project.
- A CD (and downloadable MP3 files) of rehearsal tracks, recorded with professional session singers. Each track features your voice part, with the rest of the choir mixed in very quietly, and full accompaniment.
- Access to online conductor videos, which have your rehearsal track playing as the audio, with our conductor giving you all the cues, cut-offs, dynamics etc that you'll need, in addition to the lyrics appearing at the top of the screen to help you remember the words. These are very useful to practice to, and essential for the recording process.
- At least twelve weeks of online sessions, delivered over Zoom, which help you get under the skin of the music, and ask questions about specific sections or techniques you'd like help with. (See below for more details on the sessions).
- Access to online videos to help with warming your voice up, and other aspects of vocal technique.
- Weekly update emails with additional tips and information.
- All mixing, mastering and associated production of the recording.
- One copy of the finished recording, on CD or USB stick. Additional copies will be available for participants to pre-order before they go on public sale.
- (Your sheet music, rehearsal CD, and final album will be posted to you. Postage is included for UK mainland addresses - if you live outside the UK mainland, please get in touch so we can confirm postage rates to your address).
All the songs we're including have spent at least one week at the top of the official British singles chart. They span every decade since the charts began in 1952. The vocal arrangements have been written especially for this project, and they range from fairly simple to very complex - but all are achievable, with the help and support we provide.
The songs are listed below, in chronological order of when they were Number One:
- Unchained melody (Jimmy Young, June 1955) - choir with featured soloist
- Rock around the clock (Bill Haley and his Comets, November 1955)
- Hey Jude (The Beatles, September 1968)
- Without you (Harry Nilsson, March 1972)
- Bohemian rhapsody (Queen, November 1975)
- Dancing queen (ABBA, August 1976)
- The final countdown (Europe, October 1986)
- Like a prayer (Madonna, March 1989) - choir with featured soloist
- (Everything I do) I do it for you (Bryan Adams, July 1991)
- Mad world (Gary Jules, December 2003)
- Someone you loved (Lewis Capaldi, March 2019)
Sessions will be delivered via Zoom on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings every week for at least twelve weeks. Timings will vary depending on the content of sessions, but the earliest sessions will start is 6:30pm, and the latest they'll end is 9:30pm. Most sessions will be either an hour and a quarter or an hour and a half. There are likely to be occasional weekend sessions, which will run on Saturdays between 2:30pm and 5pm. You do not have to attend every session. Most sessions will be specific to one voice part, although some will be for everyone. Some nights will have two sessions, each for a different voice part, at different times - for example, there may be a soprano session from 6:30pm to 8pm on a Tuesday, with a tenor session from 8pm to 9:30pm on the same night, followed by an alto session from 6:30pm to 8pm on a Wednesday, with a bass session from 8pm to 9:30pm on the same night. Sessions for your voice part will vary in terms of the day of the week they are on and the start and end time. This is to accommodate as many people as possible - if you cannot make a particular night of the week every week, you'll still have at least two-thirds of the sessions available to you.
The schedule of all the sessions is not fixed at the start of the project - we will adapt and react to people's needs. We'll always give at least two weeks' notice of forthcoming session dates and times, including details of which songs we'll be focussing on in those sessions. We'll begin with a welcome session in the first week of January, then regularly weekly sessions will start at the end of January and run through until approximately the end of April. The schedule for the welcome sessions and the first two weeks of the project is below (you only need to attend one of the welcome sessions!):
- Tuesday 5th January, 6:30pm to 7:30pm - Welcome session
- Wednesday 6th January, 8pm to 9pm - Welcome session
- Thursday 7th January, 6:30pm to 7:30pm - Welcome session
- Tuesday 26th January, 7pm to 9pm - First session of the project (whole choir)
- Wednesday 27th January, 6:35pm to 7:50pm - Basses
- Wednesday 27th January, 8:10pm to 9:25pm - Altos
- Thursday 28th January, 6:35pm to 7:50pm - Tenors
- Thursday 28th January, 8:10pm to 9:25pm - Sopranos
- Tuesday 2nd February, 6:50pm to 8:05pm - Altos
- Tuesday 2nd February, 8:15pm to 9:30pm - Basses
- Wednesday 3rd February, 6:50pm to 8:05pm - Sopranos
- Wednesday 3rd February, 8:15pm to 9:30pm - Tenors
- Thursday 4th February, 7:30pm to 9pm - Whole choir
We expect people to come to online sessions having spent some time becoming familiar with the songs we'll be covering in that session. We won't be teaching every note, as this kind of learning is more effectively done individually with the rehearsal tracks and/or sheet music. Instead, we ask singers to pick up as much as they can from their rehearsal tracks and sheet music, then come to the sessions armed with questions about things that they're not clear on or would like additional help with. Whenever we're working on a song in a session, we'll start with a sing-through of the whole song, then get into the details that people would like to work on. We'll end with a further sing-through as well, so you can "bed in" the work we've done in the session. At any time, you can request a further sing-through if it would be helpful.
We'll provide as much support as possible to encourage people to evaluate their own learning, so you know where your strengths are, and where you need additional help. Throughout the project, you can ask for help via email or phone at any time, and even book individual one-to-one Zoom sessions with Tim if you want him to check whether you're singing something correctly. If you want further help with singing technique, Tim offers Zoom singing lessons, although these are charged for separately.
We've been running online sessions using this model for a number of months, and it delivers great results. We'll be completely up-front and say that it is no replacement for a real, live, "in the room" rehearsal - but it is the best alternative we have at the moment. It requires a little more concentration than a normal rehearsal, and a willingness to engage in the learning process in a different way. There are some other challenges too - it's often quite disconcerting to record your own voice and listen back to it, for example, and it can take a bit of getting used to. However, it also presents some opportunities that aren't possible with a "normal" rehearsal and performance process. For example, we don't have to necessarily get one perfect take all the way through a song. We can break it into sections, and record individual sections then stitch them together afterwards. The fact that everyone is recording their own submission and sending it to us for mixing actually means that the audio quality of the end product is better than we could ever achieve in a recording studio - because everyone essentially has their own personal microphone, which is recording them and just them, with no other voices and no accompaniment. These are the absolutely ideal recording conditions, and they aren't achievable if we're singing together "live". We discovered during the six virtual choir videos we produced over the summer of 2020 that the audio quality of "remote recording" can be absolutely superb, and we've underlined that by doing our first remotely recorded album with our community choir BeVox in the last quarter of 2020. If you want to hear how good it can sound, search YouTube for "BeVox What's inside", or click this link.
Everything outlined above is included in the price for the project, which is £100 per singer. We are prepared to discuss reductions to this fee for singers who are in difficult financial circumstances - contact us to discuss this if necessary. By taking part, you're helping to support an arts-based small business, and as we're sure you're aware, businesses like ours need all the support they can get at the moment. Thanks for considering joining us for this unique and exciting opportunity.
Once you have signed up and paid, you'll get a brief confirmation email. On 2nd January, we'll send you the Zoom log-on details for our welcome sessions, and we'll post out your sheet music and rehearsal tracks straight after those welcome sessions. Our regular weekly Zoom sessions will begin on 26th January, and continue until late April. The finished album will be released a month or two later, once it has been mixed, mastered and duplicated.