Songs for Autumn and Harvest Festival

I have been trying to spin out the last few days of summer but, every time I go outside, I find that more and more nuts have fallen from the hazel tree beside my back door; the shrubs are beginning to take on autumnal tints and, next Sunday, the BBC’s “Songs of Praise” team is celebrating Harvest Festival. Reluctantly I’ve decided it’s time to change the “Seasonal Fun” page on the Full Pitcher site.

On the “Autumn Fun” page, the songs can all be explored with full lyrics and audio playback. There are ideas for using the songs in groups of mixed age or ability. A PDF of melody and lyrics for all the songs can be downloaded.

We kick off with a part-song, “Autumn Makes Me Glad” This can be performed as two separate songs. “Part Two” has few words and is largely based on a falling minor third – the first interval that children sing spontaneously. Playback of the second part alone is included and this could be used to support the singing of the easier part, while more able singers could add Part 1.

“The Birds” started life as an item from a classroom cantata for performance by children with physical disabilities. A range of bird calls are suggested in the score but these can be replaced by improvised contributions on flute and recorder.

Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours” is the tune used in the comic song, “Camp Grenada”. Here it is given suitably autumnal words, with suggestions for rhythmic activities.

“Fireworks” can be performed as a unison song or as a round in 2-4 parts and there are creative performance suggestions.

Finally, we have a song set to a theme from Vivaldi’s “Autumn”.

Also of seasonal interest are Tim Hopkins’ songs for Harvest Festival, found on the “Sacred Music” page. I love Tim’s songs -so fresh and catchy. Tim has also contributed a number of original children’s carols to the “Music for Christmas” page. Again, full playback and lyrics will be found on site.

Autumn Fun
Sacred Music
Music for Christmas

Amateur Chamber Music

There are many opportunities for amateur musicians to join orchestras and choirs, but what of those whose preference is for small-scale musical works? Playing chamber music with sympathetic musicians must be one of the most absorbing and rewarding of all musical activities! Sadly, though, drawing together the instrumentalists to play a particular work can be almost impossible for those who do not have a large circle of musical acquaintances.

Some enthusiastic would-be chamber musicians have solved their own problem and provided fantastic opportunities for fellow players in their locality by setting up amateur chamber music clubs. Surrey (UK) is blessed with not one but two clubs through which members can arrange to play their preferred repertoire in their own homes and to share their discoveries with the wider membership in informal monthly concerts.

The Kingston and District Chamber Music Society ( is well placed to draw members from South-West London and from the northern parts of Surrey, although some members are happy to travel into the area from further a-field. The society also arranges two annual 1-day ‘outings’, at which¬† members can play a session with up to five different groups.

Farnham Chamber Music Club ( ), which has historical links with KDCMS, holds its monthly concerts in Churt. As this is near the borders of three counties – Surrey, West Sussex and Hampshire, membership is very much a cross-county affair. The varied and hugely enjoyable monthly concerts attract non-performing members as well as singers and instrumentalists. Although everyone is encouraged to contribute occasional concert items, no one is obliged to do so. Some groups meet regularly on the understanding that it is strictly for their own pleasure. A recent innovation is the ‘piano group’. Pianists are always in demand as accompanists and welcome as recitalists but some felt they would like to to explore more repertoire for 4-, or 6-, hands, etc..

If there is no club like these in your area, maybe the web-sites will inspire you to start your own! A marvellous online resource for would-be chamber musicians is the web-site of Amateur Chamber Music Players. Inc ( ). This is a lively international organisation which may introduce you to opportunities closer to home of which you are unaware!

Another possibility is a local adult education college/ institute, where the prospectus sometimes lists weekly chamber music coaching sessions. If all else fails, a residential summer school may provide an annual ‘fix’ of the music you long to play!