Just how hard can it be? All you have to do is speak on a subject for 1 minute without deviation, hesitation or repetition. I refer of course to the Radio 4 Show entitled ‘Just a Minute’ which first aired on 22 December 1967. Back then Nicholas Parsons was in the chair, joined by regular contestants Clement Freud and Derek Nimmo, with guests Beryl Reid and Wilma Ewart. Subjects in the first programme included ‘Things to do in the bath’, ‘The English Nanny’, and ‘Keeping Fit’. 51 and a bit years later, the same person is still hosting, although today he is mostly accompanied by Paul Merton, Gyles Brandreth, Sheila Hancock and Josie Lawrence.
Every Monday when the aforementioned spectacle is broadcast, I find myself driving to Cirencester to run a rehearsal with the male voice choir located in that town. It is perhaps no surprise therefore that as we rehearse, I attempt to refrain from deviation & hesitation. However, when it comes to learning music, repetition is often key. After all the Gentlemen in my choral group are not trained singers, nor do many understand musical notation. Going over the score several times helps the Gents to become more familiar with their parts.
When such a gathering of men perform in concert, it is even more important to ensure there is no deviation or hesitation. This is why we meet on the first day of each working week to study the songs in great detail. Baritones are most prone to deviation whilst Tenors can be hesitant, particularly when asked to sound a high A. In some instances the noise produced can be wholly unpleasant and not something anyone should inflict on an audience. Fortunately the Bass line is rock steady and the entire performance is held together by a particularly lovely French girl who plays the piano.
Jules Addison is an avid listener to BBC Radio 4 and runs 3 choirs in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire none of which would ever knowingly hesitate in performance.