My name is Clare Elleray Mee (see below) and I’m hoping – with your help – to get Faith working on this project which is long overdue.
Currently Faith has had to close down her business (Singing for Larks) completely. The work she does, gathering groups of people together to just sing purely for the joy of it, is impossible to do right now and she is therefore earning nothing while having to maintain some of the costs of the business.
Singing for Larks is a limited company so, although Faith is receiving some financial support from the UK government, it’s not as much as it would be if she was self-employed and she’s had to furlough herself, meaning she isn’t allowed to do any work for Singing for Larks.
The silver lining is that Faith has time - a lot of unoccupied time when Singing for Larks can't function - to set up a second tiny business as a songwriter and song arranger. This is the point of this crowd funding project.
You can imagine, perhaps because you know Faith, or maybe you can just imagine, that this crowdfunding thing isn’t comfortable territory for her. No one positively wants to ask others for money – especially right now - in a time of tremendous personal and professional challenge for so very many people. If you can't deal with this right now, no problem at all, please think no more about it. It’s all fine. Right now we all need to take the pressure off, not increase it in any sense. But if you want to find out more, read on . Under “Rewards” (to the right) you’ll see that anything you give now can be seen as an investment for you.
Watching the video above will let you know if you recognise Faith and, those of you who don’t, need to know that Faith Watson has led singing in her own uniquely marvellous way for over 30 years.
If you don’t know her already that’s partly because she is far too modest to make a WOW-LOOK-AT-ME! impact and, instead, she has just quietly got on with her wonderful song leading, song writing and song arranging work for decades.
She is well worth getting to know!
Faith’s a member of the Natural Voice Network who believe that singing is a birth right and should not be the preserve of people who have been taught to read music and have their voices “trained”. It’s a joy that anyone can join in on and Faith’s work as a song-leader has always celebrated that fact.
- an extraordinary ability to make singing accessible in an inclusive, respectful, non-judgmental and incredibly joyous and uplifting way
- equally extraordinary ability to craft arrangements that can be learnt by ear by absolute beginners as well as having challenges in them to delight very experienced singers
- her musical sense of humour which she uses to such great effect in her song-writing and arrangements
- great depth of thought and clarity in her writing and arranging
I'm Clare Elleray Mee, another member of the Natural Voice Network who has admired Faith’s work since I began leading singing myself 26 years ago. I'm that rather tall one who used to live in London but is now in Kendal, Cumbria where I run Growing Singing (photo below).
Faith has been a mentor to me, as well as to many other song leaders who seek out her wisdom and clarity on how to lead singing and run groups in this uniquely accessible way.
Over the decades I have longed and nagged and begged to get hold of Faith’s songs and arrangements to use with my own groups and Faith has always been super generous with handing them out for free where she’s been able to - but so often they just haven't been recorded anywhere and way too complex and wonderful to just sing into a phone.
But, like all of us, I know that handing songs out entirely for free isn’t a sustainable way of sharing your work, and I'm just enormously keen to see Faith’s song legacy recorded and held somewhere where it is accessible to all.
This crisis felt like an opportunity to get Faith working on this job she's avoided and/or struggled with all her working life.
The initial target we were aiming at was £7,500, to pay for some professional help over the next few months from Alan Lowles, music producer and sound engineer from Airtight Productions and Angela Roche, website designer from Design by Day.
- Faith will make available some of her much-admired songs and song arrangements on an easily accessible website from which you’ll be able to buy them. They’ll include some of her jazz and swing arrangements and some of her original songs.
- Alan Lowles will produce both the highest quality recordings of each part of every song and an easy-to-read musical score of each so that they are accessible to learn and teach “by ear” (listen and repeat) or by music reading. Faith will also provide teaching / learning notes.
- Angela Roche will design and create a website where all those songs and arrangements can be sampled and purchased individually at the click of a button.
There have already been more contributions than we could have hoped for and all of them, big and small, have meant that this project will now happen. However it's not too late to support the project, and your contribution could be seen as an investment rather than a donation as you’ll receive a voucher, worth at least the amount of your donation, which you can exchange on the website for those songs and arrangements.
As you'll see in the "New stretch target" text at the top...
At the beginning of the year, Singing for Larks put in a bid to the Arts Council to fund a project to make Faith's songs and arrangements available to buy. The Arts Council was asked for £15,000 towards the total cost of the project, which was £17,500. This covered more recording time and therefore more songs, website maintenance for 1 year, replacement of Faith's broken recording equipment, production of a book of 20 of Faith's songs, and a fee for Faith's work on the project. Although the bid was unsuccessful, it was pointed out that this was because of huge competition and the bid itself was accepted as a strong and well-researched bid with appropriate costings.
When we decided to look for funding via Crowdfunder, it didn't occur to us that we could ask for anything like this amount of money so we left out several elements, cut the remaining costs to a bare minimum, reduced the amount of time Faith would be able to pay for professional recording and transcribing services (meaning that she would need to concentrate on more of the shorter, straightforward songs and fewer complex jazz / swing arrangements) and we didn't include any fee for Faith's own time.
Crowdfunder encourages 'project owners' to start with modest targets and then think of bigger plans. After the amazing response to the initial targets, this is our final stretch target - the complete project, with all the elements back in and everybody being paid fully and properly for their input. Faith will just keep adding more songs and arrangements until the money's used up - she's got LOADS of them!
We all have our unique set of skills and talents. Faith’s are myriad and include the ability to write songs and arrangements for singing groups that are hugely popular among song leaders and singers. She does this “by ear” without access to much in the way of music reading skills herself and it’s partly that that makes her songs so deliciously accessible and wonderful to sing.
Faith’s skills and talents simply don’t include the technical side of recording, transcribing and website building. Added to her also being a bit of a perfectionist, this has stopped her from recording and notating all the songs/arrangements she’s produced so far.
People have requested them, she’s been nagged, and she’s tried. It hasn’t happened until . . . . . . . . . . we hope . . . . . . . with professional help from people who do have those skills . . . . . now.
Once again, even a small investment by you will help make all this possible.
- maybe you too are a song leader, anywhere in the world, who gets huge joy out of finding ideal songs and arrangements for your groups to love. This project will give you access to at least 50 songs and arrangements you need and want and will thoroughly enjoy teaching
- maybe also as a song leader you've known and admired Faith's work and have even used some of her songs and arrangements in your own work because she's been generous enough to just allow you to use them for free - no harm in that! But now you'd love to see that work available in a form which acknowledges the huge amount of work that's gone into each one. This is your chance to help her give you access to them
- maybe you sing in a small acapella group and seek out interesting, funky, joyous arrangements of songs that really work. The completion of this project will provide some of those songs you seek
- maybe you're someone who's simply sung with Faith and know that the legacy of her songs and arrangements just has to be preserved for many more generations of singing people to enjoy
- or equally, as a participant in Faith's groups, singing days or holidays, maybe you simply want to help someone who’s brought you huge pleasure through their amazing workshop and singing skills
- maybe loving and admiring Faith as you do, you just want to help her get on with this job and don’t need any further “rewards” other than knowing you’ve helped
- maybe you'll see this as an opportunity to support the arts in general and/or Faith's work in particular
- maybe you've never sung with Faith but have enjoyed the wonderful contribution that singing makes to your life and you'll want to show your appreciation of that in general by supporting this project
- maybe, for those who do have some financial security, this is a win-win opportunity: to directly address some of the imbalance in the effects of the crisis and to support Faith and ensure that her gorgeous songs and arrangements are there for singers now and in the future
- maybe some other reason comes to mind. Whatever that is, Faith is already enormously grateful for just knowing some of us want very much to see this project completed
- your little investment – even a very small one – will make possible what Faith cannot do alone without professional help
- if you would like to, you can exchange your little (or larger) investment for a download from the Faith Watson Acapella Songs and Arrangements website – so what you’re doing now is payment forwards for something you’ll then enjoy in your song leading or song enjoying life for ever more
- cosmically, spiritually and in an utterly down-to-earth way, helping someone else is very good for us individually and collectively
Maybe it would help to hear from some of the many other people who believe strongly that this project would be worthy of your support. What’s below is what other singers, singing leaders and mentees of Faith have said in response to knowing this crowd funding campaign is getting going.
You can read contributions from: Ali Burns, Jules Gibb, Keely Hodgson, Fiona Funnell, Anita Ward, Katherine Watson, Margaret Biddle and Ann Readman.
Alison Burns from Musselburgh, a fellow songwriter and singing leader who has known Faith for decades "I’m sure there are tons of people who would just love to support Faith including all those who’ve been brought huge pleasure by her songs and arrangements through her amazing workshop and singing skills.
I think you’ve written a brilliant case for supporting Faith and I can’t think what else I can say to add to it but there’s something huge about the legacy though.
We, as older and experienced practitioners, are really growing into our power and wisdom. And making some kind of legacy of that skill is a vital way to communicate to other practitioners about how to craft arrangements of songs specifically for aural learning; how to choose songs for workshop use and how to build a collection of work that has a ‘house style’. All these are among Faith’s skills"
Jules- co-founder, with Faith, of Manchester Community Choir and long time collaborator for over 30 years."Faith is the most hard-working, ethical, modest voice practitioner I know.
Her arrangements are like no others. She is an expert on jazz and swing songs and makes pretty unique arrangements for choirs in this most tricky of genres.
A collection of her body of work is long overdue.
It’s typical of Faith that she has never pushed her work forward. Many participants at her Singing for Larks weekends as well as voice practitioners countrywide are longing for collections of her arrangements to become available.
Any human being interested in what harmonies and rhythms people are capable of will find any collection of Faith’s arrangements invaluable.
This is long, long overdue"
Composer and choir leader based in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, who runs Heart & Soul Singing Retreats and community singing groups. Keely has attended Faith Watson's singing workshops for many years, has received mentoring from Faith and attended one of her residential courses for singing leaders."Faith Watson writes arrangements and original vocal music born out of her joyful vitality and integrity as a singer and a singing leader who has been training and motivating other singers for many years.
Faith has an amazing gift of communication and even those wanting to use their singing voice, but lacking in confidence, are encouraged to sing out. Her original songs are wonderfully accessible: her many years of working as a Natural Voice Practitioner, encouraging those who feel that they can't sing, to use their voices, means that she understands how to engage and coax even the most reticent singer to have a go.
Her arrangements embody an instinctive approach to vocal music: what feels right in each voice part will create harmonies that are often daring but richly rewarding for singers.
Her personality and energy as a performer are apparent in the blend of melodic and rhythmic flair that makes her songs such a joy to learn and share with other singers.
Such an inspirational body of work deserves professional recordings for online platforms so that her songs can be available to other singing leaders to learn and share with their choirs and a wider audience of music lovers"
Musical Director of Delicious Sounds Choir, Southampton."I first met Faith Watson on a composing retreat and remember Faith’s song snippets were delightfully rhythmical, fluid, and apparently easy to learn, building up complex cross rhythms and harmonies, such are her consummate skills as a teacher.
Being a choir leader and song writer myself, I’m intensely observant and critical of any singing workshop I attend. Wow. What a blast to attend Faith’s! She creates a warm, open-hearted, professional space, creating clear boundaries with good grace, teaches with assurance that puts participants at their ease, with patience, sensitivity and masses of humour.
I have often called her up requesting a song arrangement to teach my choir, which she has sent to me without hesitation, but a lot of hard work. I love teaching her arrangements and songs; her arrangements are easy to teach, even though the parts are complex and so very satisfying to sing.
I have no hesitation in bidding you to support Faith in her crowd funding venture to record her song arrangements to sell to choir leaders. They will enrich your repertoire, and you will have welcomed some of that Faith magic, fantastic musicianship and wonderful humour into your life.
GO on, pay up now, she hates asking for money, but she is FABULOUS!"
Singing workshop leader from Old Trafford, Manchester and MD of Quarternotes choir. I've known Faith for 12 years and I'm lucky enough to be part of her regular Shylarks Teaching Team.
"I've had the great good fortune to sing in one of Faith's weekly groups, as well as attend some of her other workshops. I've also been mentored by Faith which led to me becoming a Natural Voice workshop and choir leader, and over the years I've 'pinched' many of her arrangements and original songs (with permission!).
Faith has a brilliant knack of arranging well-known songs in ways that are either deceptively simple but effective, or sometimes unexpected, that can make you hear a song as if for the first time.
Her jazz and swing arrangements are amazing.
The original songs Faith has written range from really simple three-parters to quite complex six-part songs like 'The earth has music'. Often none of the parts are 'parallel', and all have different rhythms and phrasing which can take a while to learn but fit together beautifully.
I'm trying to say that there's something for everyone in Faith's songs: short and simple for beginners, and crunchier and more complex for those who like a challenge!
And the fact that she teaches her songs means she's thought long and hard about the learner and the challenges they might face, as well as the rewards they can expect from learning, singing or teaching her songs and arrangements.
It would be great if Faith's songs could be out there for those who don't live close enough to share them in person"
Garden designer based in Manchester who has sung with Faith in the close harmony group The Lovenotes for around 12 years. Katherine is pictured on the right in the photo below, with Rose and Jules, the other Lovenotes."Faith has always been generous with her arrangements when people ask - sometimes to her detriment in that they are shared without her receiving any financial recognition; other times she simply can’t share them because she has no way of doing so. This seems astounding considering her arrangements are so well known and often sung.
I would love for her to be properly recognised financially for her enormous time and effort - some of us just aren’t blessed with a tech-brain - and added to that Faith is a perfectionist!
Given time (which she now has) and money (which you can hopefully raise) she could get the monkey off her back and realise something she’s wanted to do for the whole time I’ve known her"
Currently based in Manchester, teaches songs to groups. She's sung in various of Faith's groups for over 30 years, sung and taught many of Faith's arrangements, and has been mentored in her own professional development as a natural voice practitioner by Faith over the last decade."I’ve sung with Faith for over 30 years and been mentored by her as a song leader for at least 10 of those. This has meant I’ve been lucky enough to be able to hear her articulate her reflections on the process of teaching and learning as well as on crafting songs and song arrangements. It’s been fascinating.
Faith cares about harmony and rhythm and loves crunchy harmonies. Swing rhythms are her default. She thinks about the trade-off between ‘working at’ something tricky till the group sings what she intended, and the enjoyment of the group so her arrangements are not over-engineered. You know that each line will be a joy to sing and be honed by years of teaching it, listening to what she hears back and thinking about what groups find easy, enjoyable and rewarding.
She reflects deeply – nerdily!! – each time she teaches a group. All that reflection is fed back in to the arrangements.
She talks about how arranging is a craft not an art. There are things she might not want to sacrifice but she will do that for the sake of the group, for making a line a pleasure to sing. She’s had the opportunity to test these arrangements on a significant number and variety of groups. And her mantra is ‘what is the group enjoying?’
She often says that if the group feels pleased with itself then she feels she’s done her job well. So that’s what you can expect from her arrangements: arrangements that will enable a group to feel jolly pleased with itself.
Each part is arranged by someone who loves enabling a group to sing harmony joyfully together, who teaches by ear, and who also loves singing a cappella harmony herself, and who has therefore given attention to how as a singer you get from the end of one line to the beginning of another, for example.
Because Faith teaches these arrangements, and teaches by ear, she has also given attention to the structure of the arrangements: she knows that songs with many verses and with small differences in each verse may offer enjoyable variety to an audience, but they are not necessarily what offers most rewards for a weekly drop-in non-performance group of singers.
She has also, however, arranged versions of many of the arrangements she teaches which are specifically oriented to performance – she’s part of a cappella group the Lovenotes.
It would be a criminal waste for these glorious arrangements not to be available for the future. Think of all the aspects of ancient cultures we wish we had access to. (I’m reading History of the World in 100 Objects!) We have the opportunity to enable Faith to document these wonderful arrangements for all of us now and for future generations.
The singing we do together is really only experienced in the moment by those singing. But we have the opportunity to make similar experiences actually available to others, by enabling them to sing these arrangements, IF Faith can make them available in transmittable forms.
Singing together a cappella in the way that we do in the natural voice network is a cultural phenomenon (see Caroline Bithell’s work!). Faith’s work is only one manifestation of this wider phenomenon, but it is one of exceptional quality and consistency. We have the opportunity to help both document it and make it available"
A song leader trained by Faith who has attended many workshops and singing holidays with her since 2005.
"This type of harmony singing is the most inclusive and liberating that I have come across. We need to keep it alive because of the tremendously uplifting effect it has on everyone, and the non-judgemental, respectful way that Faith in particular teaches.
The songs themselves are an incredible mix of styles and moods - but all of them are doable by un schooled singers who may not have had any self-confidence to join choirs in the past, and who have never learned to read music.
It is also brilliant for those, like myself, who have read music and played/sung all their lives, who discover natural voice singing as a magical thing in later life! It has completely shaped, coloured and enriched my retirement - both from a singing and a social perspective. Lovely to rediscover part of my identity.
Also, by not using musical technical jargon, it is so much better for the non-trained singers and Faith sticks to it really well - combined with the whole concept of encouraging 'part tarts' (allowing people to sing any part they like) it makes for a much more fun and adventurous experience.
She has a fantastic ability to either heighten or lower the pitch at any given time, and a very clever way of accessing any part at any point in the song - very very talented/gifted. I find the whole experience uplifting, inspiring, joyous. To be able to sing without looking at notes or words is so liberating - and to share the emotion and fun in a song by grinning at people around the circle is magical"