small publisher offers David Bramhall's detailed and
entertaining new book on organising and training children's choirs.
The Choirmaster Press promotes the work of school teacher, music administrator, conductor, adjudicator, composer and author David Bramhall. He was educated in London and at Durham University before teaching in schools as far apart as the East End of London and the Scottish Highlands. In later years he settled in East Anglia and worked in schools in Norfolk and Suffolk, then ran the Music Service of Suffolk County Council.
David's two music textbooks Composing in the Classroom Opus 1 and Composing in the Classroom Opus 2 were first published by Boosey & Hawkes in 1989. They still sell steadily all over the world especially in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, are recommended by the Government of Saskatchewan and have even been translated into Greek! He also wrote articles for the Times Educational Supplement, Music File (an educational partwork, Mary Glasgow Ltd. 1988 - 1990) and was an Editorial Consultant to Silver-Burdett-Ginn (USA) during preparation of their major "music method" for schools.
Of all his musical activities, choir-training was always David's first love. He was at various times the MD of the Suffolk Jubilee Choir (very large, whole-county selective youth choir), Ipswich Girls' Choir (35 girls aged 10 - 15, non-selective) and High Voices (very select and occasional ladies' choir). He conducted at the Britten Festival, the Aldeburgh Festival, Aberdeen International Festival, and at prestigious venues in France, Italy, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Switzerland.
In 2001 he founded the remarkable Harmony Girls' Choir. The Choir - which grew rapidly to include the main choir, two training groups in different counties, and a chamber ensemble for older girls - made a priority of competitive singing and just six weeks after its first rehearsal was awarded the title "Choir of the Day" at the Sainsbury's "Choir of the Year" competition. Thereafter it embarked on a sadly short-lived but astonishingly successful career of regional and national competitions. All four groups competed in their own right; two of them never went to a competition without bringing home first prize; none ever came lower than third place. The main choir also toured in Europe and produced three commercial CDs, while one of the training groups featured five times on Anglia Television.
Here are some of the things competition judges and newspapers said about David's choirs: ... a great deal of choral expertise ..... very beautiful indeed ..... a terrific performance ..... such a lovely sound and a good atmosphere ..... glossy, sensuous singing ..... entire programme was an adventure in choral singing ... a fine choir, beautifully trained ... the best small-choir concert I've ever heard … What a wonderful choir! When can you come to Texas?
His book Training your young choir ( "very impressed with this book ... well written, with a very engaging and often amusing style" - The Mastersinger) was originally written at the request of publishers Boosey & Hawkes, but was first published as an eBook through this website. It has now been issued by Choirmaster Press as a paperback, and is available from Amazon. Click here for details.
After retiring from full-time work David taught himself to use HTML code and launched a new career as a website designer. One website of social and political comment attracted 20 million visitors a year, while Pay the Piper won the "Best Music Website" award in 2004, was recommended by the DfES, and helped many hundreds of children and young people to realise their dream of playing a musical instrument. One American choir resources website listed it as number 21 in their 100 best music websites (this website was number 22!).
As a composer David completed dozens of arrangements mainly for choirs, and his original compositions include The Monster Music for choir and orchestra, two operettas Gabriel Grubb and The Wreck of the Daisy-Belle, Petty Morcels for piano, Three Songs of John Donne, Missa Brevis and Six Minute Mass for choir, Six Silly Songs for Children, a song-cycle for children Stone in the Water, a didactic work The Big Bad Band Book, and Suffolk Tales for full orchestra, written as incidental music for television. He provided title music for an edition of ITV's Marquee arts series, and incidental music for Les Enfants de Britten, an hour-long documentary for French television.
2012 saw the first performance of a new work, Chaconne: Silence dere Shadoe by "Amici" Chamber Choir who also in 2013 performed Echo sings another song, with words as well as music by the composer, for the first time.
Retiring from active music, David turned his attention to writing fiction. A five-volume series The Greatest Cape, published by Walnut Tree Books, is available from bookshops and online from Amazon, as are the three Kitty novels for young people and a stand-alone novel The Honeyplot. Also available is a collection of short ghost stories entitled Aurelia, and a sequel to The Honeyplot is currently in preparation. In 2020 David won a national poetry competition, The King Lear Prizes, with his poem Snape Maltings, the concert hall at night.
You can find details of David's fiction writing here.
OUR MOST RECENT PUBLICATION is "Practical Praise". Have you ever noticed how HIGH hymns are? We have made a collection of fifty traditional hymns in keys ordinary people can actually manage! It's printed in a generous A4 format for easy reading on the music stand, and should make everyday worship in church or school a more pleasant experience.
As one reviewer has already said, "What a Godsend, in every sense of the word! Our congregation has found their worship enlivened by this sensible book, and far more enjoyable!" - Suffolk Churchman
See it here.
Here are two reviews of "Training your young choir" from the Tower Books website ...
Changed my life! by "Tyro", June 28, 2012
I've been running a school choir for several years, and found this book by chance. Never before has anyone explained to me the "tricks of the trade" that a choirmaster can use to achieve the highest standards with ordinary kids. A complete revelation. I keep it by my bed and read it every night. It's even quite funny in parts!
A complete revelation by Adie Parker, April 14, 2013
I had never realised just how much detail it was possible to tackle when training childrens choirs. The little recorded excerpts on the choirmaster.co.uk website show that this author really does know how to produce the most stunning singing from young people. The book is not the easiest read, and takes some concentration, but my goodness theres such a lot to learn!
... and two from the Amazon website ...
Very practical by E.R.Evans, October 23, 2013
I enjoyed reading this and found it just right for my new venture, a small village children's choir. I did not feel patronised by it, but he uses accessible language and gives lots of really good ideas. It is thorough and well informed. Alongside Jean Bartle's book Sound Advice, I don't think I'll need any others for quite a few years.
Five Stars by Amazon Customer, February 5, 2015
Practical and very useful for the church choir.
And here are some MP3 sound files of The Harmony Girls' Choir, recorded at different locations during actual concerts in 2002-4.
Extract from African
Celebration by Stephen Hatfield
Extract from Ave Maria by Gabriel Fauré
Extract from In Paradisum from Fauré's Requiem
Extract from Panis Angelicus by César-Franck arr.David Bramhall
Extract from Summertime by George Gershwin arr.David Bramhall
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