Books, June 2015

HOW TO USE VOICE FOR LIFE: A comprehensive guide to the Voice for Life scheme for choir trainers and directors
Anthony Marks with additional material by Colin Davey
RSCM: 232pp. P/B F0121 £25.00 (affiliates £18.75)
The subtitle says it all – or at least, much of it! This is the essential guide to how to use the Voice for Life scheme with its now considerable range of resources with workbooks, charts, the recent Guide to Musicianship and more. It also makes sense of the relation between the five Levels (White, Light Blue, Dark Blue, Red and Yellow) and the three Awards (Bronze, Silver and Gold) and charts the way the five Modules (A to E) weave their way through these. Written for choir trainers and choir directors, it painstakingly works through each element of each module at each level, always enriched with practical tips and suggestions and discussion of real examples of singers’ answers.
The book, if used properly and read and thought about before working on the relevant topic, will give support and confidence to the least experienced choir trainer, and will still have lots of original ideas for more qualified ones. It turns what can seem a daunting choir-training scheme into a logical and easy-to-follow progression. Comprehensive, yes, and enlightening.
Stephen Patterson

HEAVENLY HARMONY: Organs and Organists of Exeter Cathedral
Malcolm Walker and David Davies
Impress Books: 197pp. P/B 978-1-907605-65-9 £25.00

Restoration of the 350-year-old organ in Exeter Cathedral was completed at the end of 2014; this book tells the story of the instruments and musicians at the cathedral from 1284.
The authors, Malcolm Walker, Exeter Cathedral tour-guide and former academic meteorologist at Cardiff University, and David Davies, assistant cathedral director of music, have produced a remarkable book, scholarly and yet readable. Despite a dearth of old photographs, there is plenty of interesting history to fill the text, in addition to all the technical organ information. The instrument has certainly had its ups and downs over the years, more so than many other cathedrals. Sections describing defects in the organ are to be expected, but here we also hear about defective organists! One such in later years was S.S. Wesley who was described by the chapter clerk as ‘the most to be avoided man I ever met with’. Happily relationships between cathedral musicians and clergy are now good and there are first-rate choirs, both boys and girls.
The extensive glossary suggests that this book has also been aimed at the tourist market and we should wish them well in this, for the book is to be highly recommended.
John Henderson