This week, I was up North again, in the fine county of Yorkshire. Usually anywhere North of Manchester is deemed a bit far from our Wiltshire studios to leave in the morning and so I arrange a hotel for the night before. However, being a Friday, this meant that the previous evening I was due to run a choir practice with one of my 3 choirs. And the choir rehearsal was taking place in Easton Royal, just south of Marlborough. On the basis however, that I didn’t have much to do on the Saturday morning I decided one early start wouldn’t do any harm. So I set the alarm for 3am and braced myself for a long drive to Yorkshire!
Arriving just before 07.30am I found Addingham Primary School nestled in the deepest, darkest part of North Yorkshire.
One advantage of arriving early means that the pupils have generally not started to arrive and so I am allowed to get my car as near as possible to the main entrance in order to start unloading. At Addingham this meant a sneaky drive across the grass outside the school (with the permission of the Head Teacher!) so I could get into the playground. This meant that unloading the kit was much quicker than it would otherwise have been.
Setting up to Record
When I arrived, I was greeted by the Head Teacher, Miss Hilary Cave, who was ready waiting for me with a cup of coffee! This is always a good sign and bodes well for the rest of the day! Armed with coffee and some energy from having been awake for 5 hours already by now, I set about putting together our mobile recording studio in the school hall.
The hall was centrally located just by reception in the middle of the school. However, plans had been made to reduce the amount of passing traffic. In addition, towels had been placed on all the doors to avoid any noises being made of people walking around the school during the recording.
By 9am the microphones were in place and I had met the school music teacher who was going to be playing a keyboard for the majority of the songs. We had a very interesting conversation as she also runs a Male Voice Choir. It turns out that all male choirs are a liability! But nevertheless we still love them anyway! There was talk of a joint concert one day with my Male Voice Choir in Cirencester.
Recording the School Songs
I always find that when a school has a dedicated music teacher, even if that teacher is only part time, there is always some really good music being made in the school. Particularly in primary schools, singing is a great way to get all the pupils involved in music making. The singing at Addingham Primary certainly proved this point and it was wonderful to have the headteacher full involved with the day as well.
By lunchtime we had recorded well over half the songs for the album. The Head had also re arranged a lunch time club which usually took place in the hall (mostly involving throwing balls around!). This meant I didn’t have to take down all the recording kit, which would have taken a lot of time. Instead I was pointed in the direction of the village and advised that if I walked over the ‘beck’ then I would find a very nice sandwich shop from whence I could procure some lunch!
Once over the beck (stream to the rest of us outside of Yorkshire) I did indeed find myself opposite a sandwich shop. I wandered in and ordered the usual roast beef sandwich. Apparently in Yorkshire, or certainly in Addingham this comes by default with onion marmalade and horse radish didn’t appear to be an option. I decided not to question this, assuming it must be a local tradition. I was already very apparently not from Yorkshire so politely smiled and had the sandwich as recommended. That said, it was extremely nice and it turns out that roast beef and onion marmalade is indeed a thing!
Getting the Artwork done
Having acquired lunch, I then headed back to the school and set up my other laptop in the staffroom. Hilary Cave turned out to be probably one of the most efficient head teachers I have ever met and had everything ready for the artwork. This meant I was able to get the design put together during lunch. I then emailed the proofs to her from the staff room and she responded immediately. Having sorted out a couple of minor changes the artwork was then signed off before we started the afternoon recording session.
I had a lovely time recording at Addingham Primary School and was made to feel extremely welcome. The artwork and order was all signed off before I had finished packing away and so it really was one of the most efficient school recording session we have been involved in! My thanks go to Hilary Cave and all the staff and pupils at Addingham Primary School and I hope they enjoy listening to the CD as much as I enjoyed recording it.
All I had to do next was get back down the M6… Luckily for me, by late afternoon, most people appeared to be going North!