• Unite the Beat

Unite the Beat expands. Welcome the healing power of voice.

Guest blog from the wonderful Justine of Hellens Manor, Much Marcle.

We were an unlikely gathering in the Haywain Barn at Hellens. 8 people whose, perhaps only, common thread was curiosity. Some of us were slightly nervous, some bemused, all of us completely put at ease by Emily from the word go. We learnt early on that we all had very different reasons for being there  - 'I want to develop my confidence', 'I've always been told to be quiet', 'I want to howl at the moon', 'Emily persuaded me to'. And then we embarked on a quite unexpected journey together. We met weekly for four sessions and at the end of each session we looked back with a sense of wonder at what we had achieved.

At the start of our first session we shyly introduced ourselves and by the end we were all vocalising (howling, whooping, yelling, singing) unabashed.

I had to miss session 2 because I was away on holiday. Emily shared the tone poems that the group had created with me. They had evocative titles such as Spanish Apple Fishing Song and Slippery Chicken, and they sounded infused with other cultures.

In session 3 we started by looking at graphic scores. We felt intimidated - this was a language we couldn't understand. By the end we had created and performed a 20 minute long soundscape, notated by graphic score, which included sirens, turkeys, pebbles on a beach, a chase, waves crashing, an underwater scene and mermaids. We learnt that we didn't need special training and technique in order to engage with vocalising and music as a form of creative expression. 

In our final session we responded vocally to visual stimuli. We were literally singing pictures - not the stories they told or the emotions they provoked, but the pictures themselves.

We took every task that Emily set us seriously, even though they sounded ridiculous or impossible at first. As our trust grew we were able to respond genuinely to the creative results, which ranged from meditative to absolutely hilarious. 

Almost as a by-product of vocalising, came careful, considered listening. And that listening extended beyond the various sounds we were making, to what that person was telling us about their story through their vocalisations. First we learnt how to use our voices, then we learnt how to use our voices to paint pictures, tell stories, express emotions, lift our spirits and create community.

Thank you Emily!

To book us for a voicework experience/series, or discuss how you might use as for team-building, conferences and creative collaborations, contact unitethebeat@gmail.com

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