For the past two weeks, my televisual display has been showing footage of athletes from all over the world running around, jumping over things, getting wet or hitting balls at each other. Whilst I may jest, of course I do have the highest admiration for all the athletes who took part in the Olympics. Nevertheless, looking at the table of results it would appear that, on the whole, Britain does best at sports which involve sitting down – rowing and cycling being the two main contributors to this theory.
Some notable moments in British History have been achieved whilst sitting down. The treaty of Versailles was signed whilst seated & victory in the Battle of Britain was achieved by men sat in planes. George VI made his, now infamous, radio broadcast in 1939 whilst sat at a desk & in recent years there has also been a notable trend for the official portraits of the Royal Family to show the members seated, rather than the more formal paintings of earlier centuries. Then again, a quick visit to the National Portrait Gallery will show you lots of paintings of eminent British figures either sat in wingback chairs or on horseback.
Last weekend, I was in Peterborough Cathedral playing the organ for Sunday services. This essentially involved spending the day sat down watching the television. To be fair, the TV in question was showing the live video feed of the conductor and the seat was the organ bench which is rather essential if one is to play the instrument with any form of accuracy.
I have therefore concluded from this very small and unscientific piece of research that, as a nation, we rather like sitting down and indeed probably do our best work whilst seated! The phrase ‘a nice cup of tea and a sit down’ springs to mind! I’m not entirely sure of the origins of this but it is certainly a very British notion.
Surprising as it may sound, I would say that Choirs too, do a lot of their best work whilst sat down. All my choirs, with one exception, have chairs during rehearsals & naturally people tend to gravitate towards sitting on them. Whilst I never sit down myself if I am directing a rehearsal, I do offer choir members the chance to be seated, particularly when we are learning individual parts. I would, however, agree that singing is best done stood up. After all, you can’t have choir members all cwtching up on a sofa whilst singing. Nevertheless it is possible, if you are sat up properly, to sing well whilst seated.
So, whatever you are doing right now, why not pause a while. Put the kettle on and sit down with a cup of tea. It could well be the most productive thing you do all day.
Jules Addison is Musical Director for Blue Notes, The BlueBelles, Cirencester Male Voice Choir, Great Western Harmony and The Pewsey Belles.