Devon Life Magazine

Sometime last summer, before we had even heard of Covid-19, we were all happily singing our little hearts, breathing all over eachother without a care in the world! We were out on our summer tour, with the choir I direct, The Lost Sound, ah, those halcyon days! We were in Topsham, nr. Exeter, a beautiful little town – with an active and hugely popular Folk club. It was a beautiful summer’s day and we were singing to a packed house – our biggest audience of the tour. In the audience were two special people, the deputy editor of Devon Life Magazine, Owen Jones and journalist, Catherine McCourtenay. They had been hearing about this Folk choir from Dartmoor and came to see for themselves what all the fuss was about!

It is quite an honour to be in our county magazine – it has a massive distribution and we were really pleased that they had come to see us – if a little nervous! They seemed to like it and we had a very nice quote from Owen Jones! We didn’t hear much from them after that and so set our minds onto the Autumn/Winter term performances. We were singing 3 different sets in one term (that’s a lot for a choir!) supporting Show Of Hands at the finale concert in St Ives September Festival, plus 2 other shows that same day (!) concerts in Tavistock, Crediton, Calstock and Totnes; all in all it was a busy term!

Catherine came back to see the winter set and talked to me after the show at Crediton. She loved our music and wanted to do a piece on us for the April issue, which meant interviewing us in January. She interviewed me on the phone for about an hour and then talked to various singers from the choir to get a feel of what we do and how we do it! I know from experience that writing about the arts is hard – you’re trying to describe something in words that is an experience – describing how we work to someone outside the choir – how on earth do we do that!

Really, The Lost Sound is the culmination of everything I teach and everything I know about singing together and singing as an individual. The hardest part of the lockdown has been not hearing them sing – not being able to play with the sound they create, that has been sad.
My whole ethos is about vocal education. All my singing workshops are based on sharing the knowledge that I have learnt from running The Lost Sound, over the past 12 years. My overriding principle has been, even at the start, whatever we sang, we needed to do it well! I built the difficulty of the songs very, very gradually, starting with the simplest I could find and ensured we did them justice – building confidence and expertise with technique! We have always worked on tuning, blending, synchronisation etc simply because these choir skills work – they make singing together, better! There is a lovely saying: “It’s not just singing at the same time that counts, it’s singing together!”
Over the years we have developed and expanded our repertoire, now searching out innovative, quite complex arrangements of Folk songs or commissioning songs from modern composers. Our Motto is “It doesn’t matter that it’s hard, we’ll do it anyway!” When we first look at some of the new songs, we think, we might not be able to really pull it off – but you know, if we try, we might; if we don’t try, we will never get better!

I have been lucky, as this is an auditioned choir, I have been able to choose my singers and I have chosen singers who want to learn – that is the biggest criteria – I can train voices, but not the hunger to learn and develop as a singer. I am extremely grateful that we are a close knit band, too. We workshop and train together and show each other support – it’s a marvellous family of singers!

We were totally thrilled with the article! Have a read and see what you think. When we get back to being able to perform concerts again, come and see us, too!

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Sandra Smith is the director of The Lost Sound Dartmoor Folk Choir, visit their dedicated website to find out more.

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Getting around #Devon frm #Exeter to #Plymouth #rehearsing my #singers frm @_TheLostSound. #parks #backgardenst.co

Can you help this amazing #choir hit their target? Just £20 will help @Madrigirls are brilliant Please RT! t.co

@laurapbrown49 @octaviansingers Oo, annual voice tests! That is strict! Are you a professional choir?

@ronnie1c Sounds about right.......!