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  • Gary's first Convention 2022
  •  Date Posted: Thu, 30 Jun 2022
    Gary's first Convention 2022

    I was asked to write something regarding my first Barber Shop Conference at Harrogate but before I begin, I have to state what preceded the conference - essentially: hardwork! Weeks and weeks - and then some - of practising our two songs When I Fall in Love, and Old Me Better.

    We have worked on all aspects of the songs communicating the emotion, their light and shade, as well as noting the emphasis on certain words. Our movement (‘Dad Dancing!’) was another important aspect, minimising movement so it didn’t impede but rather enhanced performance. Our clothing was then considered - deciding on the shade of brown shoes we were to wear, and finally we looked to wrestling with the adrenalin of performance (that was a big beast!). What a journey! And that’s not to mention the actual journey - the 3 ½ hours to get to Harrogate; Simon Todd: thank you for the lifts and I’m sorry if I scarred you with my long chats! (Editor’s note: you really didn’t, Garry - you made the trip a lot more bearable! Todd).

    So, onto the actual day: After the long journey, I registered at the front desk, making sure to prove I didn’t have the dreaded Covid 19, helping to keep all participants, and spectators, safe. Then I received my lanyard and conference badge; at this point I knew I was a conference virgin, pinning my measly single badge to my lanyard, in stark contrast to many attendees who seemed to be weighed down with the thousands of badges they had acquired over the years! But what was nice was that we were made to feel no less welcome! This was the first post-Covid conference and I was aware that it was a big landmark moment for everyone attending.

    The conference itself consisted of a range of barbershop performances over the three days (though I only attended 1 ½ days). It was a delight! I listened to an array of quartets on the Friday - what a joy! I gained new insights into barbershop and was able to add to my growing bank of barbershop vocabulary - ‘mic warmers’ and ‘mic coolers’, to name but a few. The ‘mic warmers’, even though not in the competition, gave a great performance of two songs, and I suddenly realised the high bar of performance - one that I was about to try and meet! The MC encouraged equal ovations for all participants, and the audience kindly obliged. The quality of singers was diverse, however each had very similar levels of enthusiasm and passion. There were old and contemporary styles of barbershop; an array of ages; some with great movement and some with too much movement (for me!); there was even a parody of The Adams family! My admiration went to groups who sang songs completely new to me, yet their performance engaged me to even liking the songs on a first listen. My sympathy went to the judges who listened all day to this range of voices, with fairness and equity.

    The time for the chorus competition soon came: there were 4 levels to the risers and the choruses ranged from 12 to… a veritable army of what looked like 60 plus singers! Our 11am slot crept up on us on the Saturday morning and it was great fun performing to the crowd (and judges of course)! We sang our 2 competition numbers, but it was so, so quick. Perhaps what almost eclipsed it for me was our 3pm casual performance in a little corner of the convention centre where we sang 4 numbers; two things stood out for me: there was a security guard really enjoying us singing (whilst still looking authoritative!), and a seasoned barbershopper passed by and clearly stopped en route to listen to us! OK, and a third: a lady who heard us sing our little set, including “Dance with my father” had to leave as it was quite emotional for her! She came back and said it was lovely - I know what she meant: It’s got great emotional hooks that just occasionally pull at me too!

    All in all it was a fantastic experience: I saw a range of barbershop choruses steeped in experience; I learnt a lot about ‘owning’ the stage and having an original style; I also learnt other performance-related tips around choreography and syncopation; and last but by no means least, I got to know my fellow Telfordaires chorus members better! 

    So my first Sing Barbershop Conference 2022 came to a close. We came. We saw, and we sang. Can’t ask for more than that can we….? Well, maybe we'll get to conquer in the future!



  • Newcastle Under Lyme Music & Drama Festival
  •  Date Posted: Mon, 21 Mar 2022

    It was a sunny morning on Saturday 20th March as we gathered in the car park at Clayton Hall Academy in Newcastle under Lyme to take part in their annual Music & Drama Festival.

    A chilly wind greeted us but spirts were high in anticipation of the competition to come.

    There were to be four entrants in our category, which was more than the last time we sang there. The rehearsal went well - we all agreed that we were in fine voice as we took our places in the main hall. We were slightly disappointed however that two of the entrants had pulled out, leaving a chorus from Stafford Grammar School and ourselves, but we were there for the experience, not the prizes (but quietly pleased that the worse we could do was second place!).

    We were first to sing; our practised walk-on was good, and we started with ‘When I fall in love’.

    From my position at one end of the stack, it sounded as good as in the rehearsal room, which is not always the case! Our audience, which consisted mainly of the Stafford Grammar School Chorus, was appreciative. Our second song was ‘Old me better’ and this went down very well; I saw a number of the audience smiling, obviously enjoying the humour.

    When finished, we sat down to be the audience for the Stafford Grammar School; they sounded good, although they sang from copies of the music and had a piano accompaniment and we thought that that might be reflected in their judges’ score.

    After both acts had sung, the judge stood up and gave her feedback; she had enjoyed both choruses but, predictably, commented on the Stafford Grammar School’s use of copies and piano accompaniment. She went on to reveal that there was one point separating both groups! And the winner was…! We had won a cheque for £120 and a huge shield trophy!

    In celebratory mood, we then drove to Newcastle Ironmarket for our ‘sing out’, singing four songs including the first public performance of ‘Dance with my Father’ which went relatively well, considering. The sun shone, the shoppers enjoyed and the bucket was fed.

    Finally we dispersed, some to find food others to rush home for the football but all having had an enjoyable morning.

    Phil H

  • Telfordaires, Barbershop and the not-so-Newbie…
  •  Date Posted: Mon, 7 Mar 2022


    (I have been a member since 2020, so I am, you could say, a newbie!)

    So, two years (or so) may appear a while but since I’ve become a member we’ve been under the long shadow of Covid 19: social distancing, singing in masks (still doing so!), singing with ventilation (for me this meant the greatest challenge: singing in the cold, despite wearing several layers and being somewhat cuddly!), and of course, online rehearsals!

    Try singing together in harmony on Zoom with even the slightest delay - it’s just not possible! However, like everyone else these past couple of years, we adapted, finding new and creative ways to learn songs. Turn-taking and singing along while on mute worked surprisingly well, and I was amazed that I could learn new songs this way! We even managed to create harmonised pieces by editing individual voice recordings together, culminating in a collaboration with local female harmony group ‘Severn Harmony’ to produce a surprisingly good rendition of The Parting Glass!

    And now, as we are back to live singing, those days seem a long way behind us. We a are back on the ‘risers’ and it’s finally warmer during rehearsals (yes!) as we shut the doors, but we are still having to think about safety and reducing risk by monitoring C02 levels and wearing masks still. However, fewer restrictions have meant that long-dormant musical plans can now begin to bud and flourish; a hint to spring. For me, they are buds of excitement: Bud One has seen my involvement in acquiring new shirts for the Telfordaires and developing the wardrobe; Bud Two has brought with it new additions to our repertoire, including Luther Vandross’s Dance with my Father. For me this is a special, emotional contemporary song articulating loss and fatherhood. The melody is engaging, especially in the barbershop style. It’s likely to be a surprise to our audiences. In a word, it’s fab!

    More and yet more buds are still to come as we ready some exciting songs for more sing outs locally, and for a Barbershop Convention in Harrogate (where we are competing on April 30th). Two beautiful yet contrasting songs I’m excited to perform are When I Fall in Love and Keb Mo’s Old Me Better. The former is a song of great emotion and harmony and the latter can only be described as a subtle contrast to the former (you’ve got to hear it!). I love Keb Mo: an American great of blues music!

    We are currently practising these songs with a vengeance so that they will be diamonds for convention, and future sing outs. The work is demonstrating some key elements for me: how beautiful and dynamic Barbershop is, and how much hard work is put in to arrive at the point of being ready (we are not there yet!). The work on melody and musical performance is stretching us: we practise the songs at home, then rehearse and refine the songs when we are together. As our MD (Musical DIRECTOR) Liz says (at times!) to encourage us, “If you want to feel good about yourselves, now is the time.” So, we’re getting there…
    And there are yet more exciting buds still to.... bud (Queen’s Don't Stop Me Now, to name one!). Oh yes, things are looking good with the Telfordaires!
    Garry (Lead section minion)

  • New year, new music, new friends!
  •  Date Posted: Sat, 19 Feb 2022

    After a short break over the Christmas period, we quickly got back into the swing of things to sing those January Blues away, and it was straight to work preparing a number of songs for an upcoming Barbershop Convention. ‘Old Me Better’ got a polish this month, as did ‘When I Fall in Love’. For us newbies, we were also tasked with wrapping our vocal chords around ‘Dance the Night Away’ for the first time – a tricky task for me as I found that the baritone line to be quite different from the melody etched into my mind by The Mavericks in the 1990s!


    Later on in the month, we learnt of the Wrekin Rowers’ valiant efforts in rowing across the Atlantic, and their unfortunate run-in with a marlin fish which almost punctured their chances of completing their charity challenge! We decided to show our support the only way we knew how: by recording a sea-shanty to send over to will the boys on…  



    It seemed to do the job, as the local lads completed their journey, raising just under £105,000 for Seven Hospice and RNIB!


    Speaking of Severn Hospice, The Telfordaires are also supporting this fabulous local organisation this year, collecting donations for them at various ‘sing-outs’. It was great to welcome Matthew – Area Fundraiser at Severn Hospice – to rehearsal this month, to hear how the money raised for the hospice was spent.


    Early February brought with it a new song does its to learn – ‘Dance with my Father’ – a melodic ballad that really pulls at the heart strings (it usually brings a tear to my eye when I practise in the car on my way home from work!). We’ll be back soon to update you on the song’s progress!



  • Summer Singouts
  •  Date Posted: Tue, 12 Oct 2021

    At the SOundsWe’ve had 3 brilliant 'sing outs' (barbershop-speak for community performances) over the summer what a pleasure it’s been performing again in person!

    The ‘Sounds in the Square’ event returned to Wellington and we were delighted to be asked along to add some harmony (including some never-before-performed-live (by us at least) material!) to Wellington town centre. Smiles were dutifully put onto faces and over £60 was dutifully put into the charity bucket to raise money for Severn Hospice.

    Next up was the Shrewsbury Food Festival. We went from beer tent to bandstand and received much warm applause for our performances. We even brought a former barbershopper out of retirement when he came up to perform ‘Heart of my Heart’ with us.

    Finally, our very own John Ellis welcomed us to The Crown in Oakengates for yet another fantastic ‘Dog-day afternoon’. Punters were entertained in the name of this brilliant fund-raising event that raised money for the Royal British Legion. There wasn’t an empty charity bucket in the place by the time we’d sang our final note (although there were many empty pint glasses)!

  • IN THE HOT SEAT: Andy “Woollster” Woolley
  •  Date Posted: Sat, 19 Jun 2021


    From Oakengates to Las Vegas with Telfordaires' tenor, Woollster. 


    Q: What's your role in the Telfordaires? 
    Andy: I am currently Tenor Section leader and also Membership Secretary.

    Q: When you’re not singing with the Telfordaires, what other music-making are you involved in?
    I sing with John Ellis (one of our basses) and a few friends in a House Band called "Accidentally Acoustic".  And also with some friends in a three piece: "Skins, Wires and Combs", performing at Open Mic nights at The Crown, Oakengates. 

    Q: What three records would you take to your desert island?
    Difficult task that!  I think I would take ELO's Greatest Hits, Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells and Ultravox Greatest Hits. lol

    Q: What else do you like to do to relax?
    Andy:  I 
    enjoy watching and playing football, watching Ice Hockey, I love gardening, walking and birdwatching.

    Q: It’s your birthday dinner - what’s on the menu?  
    Andy: Chinese buffet or take away meal 

    Q: If your house was on fire, what one item/ object would you run in to save?
    My Fender Catalina Guitar 

    Q: Many barbershoppers are self-taught musicians - are you?
    Andy:  I'm not, as I had guitar lessons at school and music lessons with a tutor. 

    Q: When did you first get into barbershop?
    Andy: I attended a Learn to Sing course with The Telfordaires, originally just to give my Dad some moral support but was immediately hooked! I had my audition after the course and the rest, they say, is history!

    Q: What’s been your most memorable barbershop experience or performance? 
    Andy: With The Telfordaires it has to be our Old Man Sketch (at the BABs annual convention) - that was such good fun!  With the Cottontown Chorus it would have to be singing in Las Vegas at International Convention and my first gold medal.

    Q: Which barbershop singer, quartet or chorus do you most admire? Who has influenced you most? 
    I would have to say "Reckless Quartet",  as all the lads have given me so much encouragement since I have started singing chorus and quartet, especially Dale and the two Andys - Fun and Foz.

    Q: And finally, what do you love most about the Telfordaires?
    Andy: I think it would have to be the camaraderie we have within the chorus and that I have made some very good friends there and also been fortunate to sing with some great musical directors. 

  • In the Hot Seat: Phil Smith
  •  Date Posted: Thu, 1 Apr 2021


    Phil Smith marks 10 years with the Telfordaires on 1st April 2021.  As he’s nobody’s fool (!) we decided to ask him to sit in our Hot Seat, proudly sporting his Long Service Award Pin. Since 2011 Phil has served eight years as club treasurer and five years as Tenor section leader.  We asked him a few questions....

    Q: When you’re not singing with the Telfordaires, what do you like to do to relax?

    Phil: I enjoy Formula 1 and also watching any team game in which our national team are playing.


    Q: What non-barbershop music do you love?

    Phil: On occasion I sing in my church choir, but other than that, I don't really listen to other music. 


    Q: It’s your birthday dinner - what’s on the menu?  

    Phil:  Steak and peppercorn sauce. 


    Q: If your house was on fire, what one item/ object would you run in to save?

    Phil:  My phone, it has all my insurance details on it.


    Q: Many barbershoppers are self taught musicians - are you?

    Phil: I started singing in junior school choir and have been in choirs all my life. I guess I've had many directors who have coached me over 50 years


    Q: When did you first get into barbershop?

    Phil: I first sang Barbershop with Stockport in the 1990's but only for three weeks as I could not committ the time due to having a young family. I joined the Telfordaires in April 2011, following an invitation from Walter Marston.


    Q: What is so special about the barbershop community?

    Phil: Everyone is an equal. No matter what your background is like, if you can sing, we want to sing harmony with you.


    Q: What’s been your most memorable barbershop experience or performance? 

    Phil: Winning a Silver Medal with my former quartet 'Wrekin Havoc' at the Irish Association of Barbershop Singers Convention in 2017.


    Q: Which barbershop singer, quartet or chorus do you most admire? Who has influenced you most?

    Phil: That would be my first director at Telfordaires, Dale Kynaston. His ability to direct the chorus and have us understand what he wants from the risers was inspiring. 


    Q: And finally, what do you love most about the Telfordaires?

    Phil: The camaraderie we share at rehearsals and wherever we go for a sing out. I have made so many new friends that I could not count them all.

  • Ron Braid - a tribute
  •  Date Posted: Mon, 29 Mar 2021

    The world of barbershop is saying a very sad goodbye to former Telfordaire, Ron Braid, who sadly passed away on Monday 22nd March aged 73. 

    Former Telfordaire MD Dale Kynaston recalls:

    Ron was.... a Barbershop nut! He attended every event going, including several international conventions in the States. I had the privilege to have known Ron since 1984, when he was singing with... the Telfordaires. Ron went on to hold several committee positions including Chairman for over 10 years and I had the honour of being the Musical Director of the chorus at the time. I also had great joy in being able to sing in a quartet with Ron called “Rapport”, with Wal Marsden and Noel Whinyates. We became well know for our light hearted and comedic performances, made all the stronger by Ron’s infectious charisma as our front man. Ron was known by many in the hobby for his humour and joyous nature."

    Brian Forster (Telfordaire Lead) added: 

    “When I joined the chorus 25 years ago,  Ron was already a long established member and was always most welcoming and helpful to everyone.  He was instrumental in much of the choreography and comedy routines that the Telfordaires were well known for. He left the chorus around 2010 to join Grand  Central chorus (Nottingham) with whom he sang for many years, while retaining his membership and close contact with us.   He rarely missed a Convention where he always made a point of joining us for a sing in the bar. He will be sadly missed by the Barbershop community in general.”

    And a few words from Andy Woolley (Telfordaire Tenor Section lead and Membership Secretary);

    “Ron was a fellow tenor and a bloody good one too. Always encouraging and complimentary of my performances in quartet.  RIP, Ron, you will be missed”

    From a Parting Glass - current Telfordaire repertoire: 

    So fill to me the parting glass
    And drink a health whate'er befalls
    Then gently rise and softly call
    Good night and joy be to you all

  • Polecat Party Report
  •  Date Posted: Fri, 19 Mar 2021

    "It's the music that brings us together, but it’s the friendships that make us stay”

    What makes a fabulous party? 

    Well, friends old and new, of course, and some great music. And, some would say, plenty of beer!  

    Well, two out of three ain’t bad!  On Wednesday 17th March, the Telfordaires were proud to host our second Polecat Party. Our normal ranks were swelled by THREE TIMES as we welcomed barbershop chorus members from Aberdeen to Plymouth, with attendance peaking at 62. 

    MD Liz got us in the mood with a classic warm up routine mixing physical and vocal gymnastics and then, thanks to the magic of Zoom, we were allocated to breakout rooms to sing along in small groups to a range of familiar Polecat favourites including “Heart of my Heart”, “Down our Way”, “My Wild Irish Rose” and what is fast becoming a lockdown favourite, “It’s the Music that Brings us Together”. 

    We were also set a fun task: change song titles by one word and see what "damage" we can cause.  For example in our group “Let me call you Sweetheart” became “Let me call you... a cab”.   :-)

    And of course there was plenty of banter and chat as we shared stories about how different choruses have been adapting during lock down and our emerging plans for a return to the risers. 

    Many thanks as always to our MD Liz Garnet for hosting the session and to representatives from the following chorus for joining in the fun with the Telfordaires:

    • Vale Harmony, Pershore
    • Granite City, Aberdeen
    • Ocean City, Plymouth
    • Ouse Valley, Huntington
    • Heart of England, Leicester
    • Rolling Hills, Edinburgh
    • Cottontown Chorus, Bolton

    Who knows, maybe such virtual meets might become a regular feature in the future? 

  • In the Hot Seat: Derek Harris
  •  Date Posted: Thu, 4 Feb 2021

    Telfordaires Secretary and past Chair, Derek Harris came late to singing and barbershop.  In the latest in our occasional series putting members of the Telfordaires in the Hot Seat, “Dek” tells us about "Bonnie" the dog and singing in Las Vegas.  


    (Archive photo)

    Q: When you’re not singing with the Telfordaires, what do you like to do to relax? 

    Derek: Walk our dog, Bonnie! Play golf. Cryptic crosswords and other puzzles.


    Q: What non-barbershop music do you love? 

    Derek: Songs from many musicals and northern soul (harking back to my youth!)


    Q: It’s your birthday dinner - what’s on the menu? 

    Derek: I love food so it could be anything from rib-eye steak, through pork belly to sea bass!


    Q: If your house was on fire, what one item/ object would you run in to save?

    Derek: My birthday wristwatches!


    Q: Many barbershoppers are self taught musicians - are you? 

    Derek: Yes! I knew nothing about music, especially sheet music, until I joined The Telfordaires!


    Q: What part do you sing? 

    Derek: Baritone


    Q: When did you first get into barbershop? 

    Derek: August 2010. I went to a "Free 6 Weeks - Learn to Sing" course hosted by the Telfordaires


    Q: What is so special about the barbershop community? 

    Derek: It's really warm, welcoming and accepting.


    Q: What’s been your most memorable barbershop experience or performance? 

    Derek: I've been fortunate to sing with both the Telfordaires and the Cottontown Chorus in Bolton over the last few years and competed in the International Contest with Cottontown in Las Vegas - twice! The MGM Grand stage was awesome!


    Q: Which barbershop singer, quartet or chorus do you most admire? Who have influenced you most? 

    Derek: I have to say that during my first few weeks at Telford, my biggest influence came from Dale Kynaston, the MD at that time. He was encouraging and helpful and inspired me to improve in every way I could!


    Q: In an ideal, post COVID world, where would you like to perform one day?

    Derek: Royal Albert Hall would be nice!


    Q: And finally, what do you love most about the Telfordaires? 

    Derek: The cameraderie is wonderful!


  • Happy New Year!
  •  Date Posted: Wed, 30 Dec 2020
    The Telfordaires and Severn Harmony are delighted to share our musical New Years’ Greeting. Both choruses should have spent the year singing at events around Shropshire and beyond, so instead we have collaborated on a recording project so we can reach out and remind everyone how much we value the opportunities you give us to share our joy in music.

    'The Parting Glass' is a traditional song associated with the turning of the year, and we bring it to you in a brand new arrangement, with the hope that we will be able to sing it for you live once again in 2021.

    The two choruses have enjoyed workshopping and performing together over the years, and this collaboration gave us the opportunity to reconnect and spend time with musical friends. We held three joint virtual rehearsals during October and November, at which we enjoyed each other’s company as well as working on the song.

    The Telfordaires continue to meet virtually despite all the obstacles of the past year, and will be delighted to welcome new members in the New Year. We offer the opportunity to learn new skills and make new friends, and if you would like a new challenge for 2021, you won’t find a more supportive and encouraging group of people to embark on it with.

    YouTube Video URL:
  • Merry Christmas from the Telfordaires!
  •  Date Posted: Mon, 14 Dec 2020
    We have missed singing for local events all year, but never more so than in December, which is usually our busiest season for performances. But we couldn't let the season pass entirely without spreading some musical cheer, so here is a little something for now.

    And watch out for another musical message from the combined forces of The Telfordaires and our sister chorus, Severn Harmony, coming up to mark the turn of the year.
  • In the hot seat: Liz Garnett
  •  Date Posted: Fri, 20 Nov 2020

    As part of “Musical Director Appreciation Week”, we thought we’d ask our MD,  Dr Liz Garnett, a few questions. 


    Q: When you’re not singing, coaching or arranging, what do you like to do to relax?

    Liz: I like to cook - I'll read a bunch of different recipes, then put them all aside and go play in the kitchen. The results are always nutritious and usually edible.


    Q: What non-barbershop music do you love?

    Liz: I feel like I became a musician (as opposed to just someone who happened to be learning the piano) when I discovered Debussy, and Stravinky's Rite of Spring remains endlessly fascinating.


    Q: You have an impressive range of footwear - where does that come from?

    Liz: I like to quip that it's to distract people from looking at my face. 


    Q: Many barbershoppers are self taught musicians - are you?

    Liz: No, quite the opposite in my case. One of the adventures in discovering barbershop soon after completing my PhD in Music was finding out just which bits of that training would be relevant to this new (to me) musical world, and which bits I'd need to learn all over from scratch!


    Q: So when did you first get into barbershop?

    In 1996. I went with my partner, Jonathan, to the BABS Convention when he had joined a chorus, and have not yet come up for air.


    Q: What is so special about the barbershop community?

    Liz: It's like a kind of parallel universe. There are people you see only a couple of times a year, but each time you see them you just pick up where you left off. And it's a universe in which the cool kids and nerds really like each other.


    Q: Which barbershop singer, quartet or chorus do you most admire? Who have influenced you most?

    Liz: At a personal level, special mentions to Tom Gentry for his support early on in my barbershop career, and the late Roger Payne for pushing me to put myself out there as an arranger at a time when I had almost given up through discouragement. At a more global level I'd say the architects of modern barbershop are the triumverate of Jim Clancy, David Wright and Cindy Hansen. A lot of the innovations we see these days would not have been possible without their work to pave the way.


    Q: As well as singer and MD you have also acted as judge in music competitions.  What makes a really great performance? 

    Liz: Sometimes a group simply outperforms themselves: something in their relationship with their music, with their skillset, with each other, and with the occasion lights them up and sets their performance on fire. 


    Q: You’re known internationally as a vocal arranger - what have been your most popular arrangements?

    Liz: Over the years, my most widely sung chart has been Happy Together, which was published by the Barbershop Harmony Society in 2005. My current biggest seller is Mr Blue Sky, originally commissioned by the Telfordaires. I mostly work by commission, so I never really know what's coming up, and I rather like that element of surprise.


    Q: You also offer vocal coaching to groups and individuals.  Do you enjoy teaching? 

    Liz: It is immensely satisfying to help people become more confident and skilled at doing something they love. And instructive - I learn so much from the people I work with.


    Q: You have put enormous effort into sustaining Telfordaires rehearsals through an extended period when, because of COVID, we haven’t been able to meet on the risers.  What have been the biggest challenges? And what the biggest successes? 

    Liz: Reimagining the rehearsal process when the technology prevents simultaneous singing as a group has been the fundamental challenge: how do we still connect with each other musically? 

    Overall, the biggest success is the way the club has pulled together to make this work. The Music Team has been awesome - there's been a lot of extra work behind the scenes, made harder by having to do it all remotely - but the whole club has been great at taking initiative and making things happen. At an artistic level, my heart glows when despite it all we can still celebrate moments of beauty, of artistry, of increased technical control, of individual expressiveness. In a bleak year, we can still create genuine musical experiences for each other.


    Q: And finally, what do you love most about the Telfordaires?

    Liz: The chorus culture. So friendly and supportive and always willing to laugh. I love that we can all care deeply about making the music as good as we can without having to take ourselves too seriously.


    If you’d like to find out more about Liz and her work as a professional coach and arranger, and to read her regularly updated blog,  then do visit her website

  • A Temporary Suspension
  •  Date Posted: Thu, 5 Nov 2020
    After 11 weeks of Saturday supplement rehearsals I am sad to say we are having to bring them to a  temporary halt.. We have managed to overcome wind, rain, occasional sunshine and even forklift trucks with loud beepers. But with the Governments imposition of the second national lockdown we must regretfully comply. 

    These rehearsals, held alternately in the garden of the Elephant and Castle, Dawley and at the rear loading bay of Dukeshill Foods in Horton Wood, have been literally a breath of fresh air.

    They have been conducted with strict social distancing. and we have learnt how to sing while wearing face masks and even the advantages ,or not,of the different style of masks available. but first and foremost they have reminded us of the joy of singing together in harmony. We will continue to rehearse using the Zoom platform on Wednesday evenings for as long as needs be but I for one will eagerly look  forward to firstly being able to continue our Saturday sessions and then eventually being able to return to indoor rehearsals and performances to live audiences.

    I would like to thank all of those who have made these Saturday sessions possible as they have reminded me of the joy of singing in Harmony and why I love this hobby.

  • At last, a taste of live harmony
  •  Date Posted: Sat, 22 Aug 2020

    Liz has been studying the reports on "How we can get sing together" for some time, following the advice on aerosol production and how we can keep safe.

    Singing together in the same space has not happened since March.

    Today we had the first tryout of a new model of rehearsing. The chorus was queried for their availability for a weekend rehearsal, and lots were draw. Actual inclusion was by invitation.

    We met in the garden of The Elephant & Castle, which is run by John, one of our new members. Plastic plates marked the points in the stack, each one socially distanced from each member's neighbouring singers. You can see how far we were from each other in the photos.

    Our singers (and indeed conductor, Liz) were masked up to limit the production of aerosols.

    We warmed up. In many ways it was like exercises we'd done before to encourage us to "listen louder". We sang, and could see Liz's eyes light up as we had real chords, and overtones being formed. We started with "Heart of my Heart" as most of us knew it well. Then a break after 20 minutes to allow the wind to change the air in the vicinity. Then we sung the song we've been learning in lockdown - and it worked. There were a few times where "brains were dropped on the floor", but they were picked up, our learning was advanced and we moved on. The mark 2 version was better.

    The same pattern followed with "Old me better", and "My Girl" - 20 minutes of singing, followed by a 5 minute break. We worked on parts of the songs that warranted the extra attention, before finishing on our new song.

    (At this point - I'm not going to announce "our new song", as it'd be a spoiler for a future post :))

    So after about an hour our first "together" rehearsal finished, and I believe we were all thrilled to be back singing together. We're not back to normal. It's still not the same as the Wednesday evening rehearsals at Old Hall School, but it was great. It was even interrupted by a proper downpour, but it didn't stop us.

    The other half of the Telfordaires team get to do it next week. I hope they have as much fun as we did, and better weather.

  • European Singing Coach Stephanie Schmidt teaches the Telfordaires "How to Human"
  •  Date Posted: Fri, 10 Jul 2020


    Stef is a barbershop singer and coach who runs the Coaching Certification program for Barbershop in Germany – BinG!.   Most recently she sang baritone in an international quartet, “Identity Crisis”, competing at the Spanish Association of Barbershop Singer in 2019.  Prior to that she directed “A Cappella Ladies”, a women’s barbershop chorus with whom she competed at the BinG! Barbershop Music Festival in 2018. 

    Stefanie's focus as a coach is on performance and music. For this she brings experience from theatre and jazz dance to barbershop. 

    So we were delighted when she accepted Liz’s invitation to run two online rehearsals for the Telfordaires from her home in southern Germany. Her theme was vocal expressiveness: how to get your meaning over in song.

    One of her key messages was the importance of para-verbal markers in our singing.  By treating the delivery and emphasis of the words with the same care as we treat the notes and melody, we can add authenticity and impact to our performance.

    Andy Woollster, Tenor section lead, said: “It made me aware of how to get the message across in song by using facial expressions, mannerisms and vocal tone. This will enhance my overall performance of a song”   
    While we focus on words, they only account
    for a fraction of what we communicate
    when we sing.

  •  Date Posted: Sat, 27 Jun 2020

    An announcement from BABS. 

    It is with great sadness BABS is cancelling Harmony College 2020.
    As we have always said the health and well-being of our members is at the forefront of our decision making. We moved the August dates to November however, according to current guidelines, and having studied all the scientific advice, welcoming 300 people to gather in an environment where we cannot 100% guarantee your safety is a risk we are unwilling to take in the face of the current pandemic. We believe that this decision is in the best interests of our attendees and faculty and we are formally cancelling any in-person event in November.
    We are planning Harmony College Online, for the 27th to 29th Novemberand more information will be released soon.
    For many of us, Harmony College is something we attend year after year. We are in the habit of smiling at people we pass every day on site, singing with new friends at all hours, and enjoying the beer in the bar. We look forward to doing this with you at Harmony College 2021.            


  • The Convention Experience: a personal recollection
  •  Date Posted: Sun, 7 Jun 2020

    By Tim Ashton
    Lead Section
    Telfordaires Barbershop Chorus

    The Telfordaires missed out on the annual convention this year as the Harrogate venue was commandeered as a Nightingale Hospital. So we asked long-standing  Telfordaire Tim Ashton to recall his first experience of Convention –  in 2008 in Cheltenham

    “The Friday allowed for a little relaxation, a couple of beers and general humour. Not too much beer though, I don’t sing Bass!  My colleagues would not have noticed at this point that I was getting somewhat nervous, whilst also being very excited about the day ahead. They would have seen the usual guy with a mix of silliness and general tomfoolery. But underneath, the emotions were a jangle. I found myself running through the songs in my head, checking I knew them and that I wasn’t going to let anyone down. For two years, I had been building up to this. I’m sure the seasoned campaigners were now in a comfort zone, me, I was in new territory.

    Saturday morning arrived and an early rehearsal. My god! What are these warm up exercises?  Are they trying to kill me?  Let’s just sing the songs….oh, hang on, I feel looser and lively.  I don’t do lively in the mornings.  Is my throat feeling sore?  I’m not going to be able to sing!  No, a drink of water has cleared it.

    At this point my nerves are beginning to fray.  I am not worried about the audience, but our song is so special and I don’t want to let the Chorus down by messing it up. A couple of people have asked me how I am feeling. I lie and put up the shell that says “fine no problem, what’s all the fuss about?”.

    As we are ready early, and run through the first song. Other choruses also changing stop and listen, I could tell they were impressed. Now I’m feeling good. Seeing the positive reaction of my peers has given me a confidence boost, I know this is a good package and we can sing it. I can sing it!

    We move through to the warm up room, a couple of more rehearsals and a practice getting on and off stage.  I’m ready!  Let me at them!  Now the warmth and camaraderie that typifies our chorus shows again, as one member comes to me, realising it’s my first time, and takes me through what going on stage is likely to feel like. Top man!  We move to the holding area and I focus on the story of the song we are about to sing. A great place for my mind to escape to, keeping away any anxiety.  I just want to sing.
    The Telfordaires at the Cheltenham Convention 2008

    On to the stage, the marks are still being collected from the previous chorus.  Couldn’t they do that before we came out!  I want to get on and sing!  They’re ready for us, there’s the pitch…sing! Where have all those nerves gone? It feels so natural; it’s supposed to be tough at Convention. This feels like a place I belong. Or is this a function of all the preparation? Is this why we take such pains running through every detail?

    Off stage now, five minutes have passed in a flicker of an eye. I just want to do it again. I know we’ve done well, The MD’s face says so. Lots of mutual congratulations, damn I feel good! I’m sure if we could sell this Barbershop as a white powder we’d make a fortune on the streets. This buzz must be illegal.”

    Tim's hard work paid off, as in 2008, the Telfordaires, under the direction of MD Dale Kynaston, were placed 6th in the Small Chorus Trophy. And Tim is now a stalwart of the Lead Section.  

    YouTube Video URL:
  • Barbershop comedy? Sometimes it is!
  •  Date Posted: Sat, 6 Jun 2020

        By Ian Clark 
        Saturday 30th May 2020


    So you thought Barbershop was ‘serious’ stuff? Well it turns out it's true, and comedy songs are no exception!

    We had an extremely informative virtual session with Dale Kynaston (many of you will know him as a former MD of the Telfordaires and BABS Bigwig).  He took us through a comprehensive look at what goes into creating a good comedy song. Who knew there was such a variety of styles, from Parody, slapstick to witty observations on life?!  One of the main themes was how to take the audience on a journey using movement, visual impact, superb  harmonies and above all ‘believability’. To quote Dale, "If the singers don't believe in the story, then neither will the audience“.

    So a small team will be focusing on looking at comedy as part of the Telfordaires repertoire and, having seen previous outings including the infamous Convention 2012, the gauntlet has been laid down.

    Dale's passion, experience and knowledge was both inspiring and contagious. I think all of us who participated felt some trepidation but above all excitement at the thought of working on some songs that would create amusement and, hopefully, raucous laughter for future audiences.

    So this is a kind of ‘watch this space’ note.  It’s the start of a journey and a bit like our current situation, can’t be sure how it will end.  However, I can guarantee, from my few months as part of the Telfordaires, IT WILL BE GOOD.

    So stay safe and connected with the people and things you love.

  • Shift to Remote Rehearsing
  •  Date Posted: Tue, 17 Mar 2020
    As of Wednesday 18 March 2020, the Telfordaires are moving club night online. Even before the announcement on 16 March that the country was to move to social distancing in response to the covid-19 outbreak, we were drawing up plans to find ways to stay connected while also keeping each other safe.

    We are still meeting every Wednesday 7.30 - 9.30 pm, but rehearsals are now virtual, rather than in person. This means that if you were planning to come and visit, don't come along to the Old Hall School, as we won't be there! But we can invite you to log in and indeed join in to at least some of our evening's activities - drop us an email and we'll tell you how.

    Our MD Liz has written a blog post about how we're going about this, and the thinking behind it:

    Stay safe, but also keep singing!
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