Learning from Langley

The Langley Schools Music Project was a collection of recordings in the mid-1970s made by a school in Canada singing recent pop music. When the recordings were rereleased about 15 years ago, they became a cult hit, and it’s because of their guileless, emotive performances. These are performances that wouldn’t get high marks for tone, intonation, vocal technique – but you can’t help being moved by their delivery.

Their teacher is quoted saying, “The kids had a grasp of what they liked: emotion, drama, and making music as a group. Whether the results were good, bad, in tune or out was no big deal — they had élan.”

Certainly the best performances capture élan and technique in a full package; but as you rehearse this week, ask yourself what you’re prioritizing, and what you would need to do to really emphasize both.