Stomp, clap, stomp, clap…what?

I’m standing on a stage in Langroise, with my eyes closed, listening to a vibrant red-haired woman do all sorts of amazing things with her voice. And then, with the 20 other people surrounding me, trying to imitate her with varying degrees of success. With everything from Latin vocalizing to something that almost sounds like beatboxing, it’s unlike any choir class that I’ve experienced.

Moira Smiley and VOCO came to do a master class with our choir a couple of weeks ago. They are an amazing a cappella group that has traveled around the world performing folk songs in every style you can image. One of their signature things is what they call body percussion – clapping, stomping, and similar movements, all done as accompaniment to a song.

Before they came, the women of our choir had learned a song called “Bring Me Little Water Silvy” to sing with them. They were all really nice, and helped us learn our parts. But then we started the body percussion. In the videos we’d watched of them, it looked so simple and effortless. It was nothing like that. As a somewhat rhythmically challenged person, I had a hard time figuring out when I was supposed to slap my thighs and when I was supposed to stomp and how fast to do everything.

We practiced frantically all day, trying to get down this ridiculous body percussion. I showed up that night at the performance, with less than stellar confidence in my body percussion abilities. The other girls in the choir weren’t feeling ready either, so we spent every last minute until the concert started trying to practice.

The concert was amazing. Moira Smiley and VOCO had such a great repertoire and their harmonies were amazing! Our song went alright – I know I definitely messed up the body percussion a few times. Moira and VOCO were so relaxed when they sang, and the body percussion seemed like part of their natural movement. I felt like a robot when doing the body percussion, and I’m sure I had an expression of intense concentration on my face. But it was still a wonderful experience, and one I won’t be forgetting any time soon!