Posts Tagged ‘wedding’


Wild Mountain Thyme. Sussex Harp. lyrics Youtube

December 30, 2009

Wild Mountain Thyme – lyrics, sound & Youtube

1. Oh, the summer time is come
And the trees are sweetly blooming,
And the wild mountain thyme
grows around the blooming heather.

Will you go, lassie, go?
And we’ll all go together
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather,
Will you go lassie, go?

2. I will build my love a bower
By yon clear and crystal fountain,
And on it I will pile
All the flowers of the mountain.


3. I will range through the wild
And the deep glen sae dreary
And return wi’ my spoils
To the bower of my Dearie


4. If my true love, she were gone
Then I’d surely find another
Where the wild mountain thyme
Grows around the blooming heather.

Oh, the summer time is come
And the trees are sweetly blooming
And the wild mountain thyme
Grows around the blooming heather.

Contact: Alan Mars on 01273 747 289 or 07930 323 057


Harpist, Flute, Song- Brighton Sussex UK

December 30, 2009

Harpist Sussex – Weddings, Ceilidh & School Programmes  

Enchanting Celtic songs & melodies for your wedding or special event

“One of the most entertaining nights I’ve had for a long time! Alan immediately puts the audience at ease as he commands the show with wit and authority. He is very skilled at public performance.It was a delightful varied evening”

Magdalena Reising (musician – MySpace )

“legendary words, humour and music. Alan is a very accomplished singer and celtic harpist.”

Paul Chi (musician – MySpace 

Alan Mars – Harpist, Singer, Master of Ceremonies, Storyteller

Harriet Anderson – Flautist, Singer, Ceilidh & Dance Caller

Alan on  07930 323 057 


 harpist sussex brighton harp, flute, song sussex


sussex harpist singer – weddings & civil partnerships

December 30, 2009

Wedding & Civil Partnership harpist and singer

Brighton & Hove, Sussex and surrounding areas.

Please contact Alan Mars on 07930 323 057 or

Robert Burns most famous love song…

Oh My Luve is Like a Red, Red Rose

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June:
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry:

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only Luve
And fare thee weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile


Harp, Flute, Song in Brighton & Hove, East Sussex contact details

June 8, 2009

Harp, Flute, Song, Dance in Brighton East Sussex 

Contact - Email, Mobile & Landline




Please contact Alan Mars on:-

07930 323 057

01273 747 289



Alexander Technique & the Choral Singer

October 22, 2008
Potted Alexander Technique

F.M. Alexander (1869-1955) was an actor who suffered from recurrent hoarseness and breathing difficulties. Having unsuccessfully tried the medical treatments available at the time, Alexander studied by himself, over a period of seven years, in a three-way system of mirrors to find out what he was doing that caused him to lose his voice.

He noticed a tendency to stiffen his neck and pull his head back and down. This habit initiated a pattern of misdirected effort through his whole body. He eventually developed an approach that involved momentarily pausing and releasing his habitual tension and then ‘directing’ himself into an easier, co-ordinated state.

Alexander went on to teach, using a combination of gentle manual guidance and verbal instruction to give his students a direct experience of using their bodies in a more co-ordinated way.

Alexander and the singer

The singing/Alexander Technique teachers I worked with said nothing about my voice. Instead they said things like, ‘Allow your shoulders to release and widen’;’release the back of your neck’, etc. Over time this gentle approach increased the resonance, range and flexibility of my voice.

most of us accumulate muscular and mental habits which, to some extent, shorten, narrow and twist natural skeletal alignment. These things interfere with easy singing, and changing such habits will, in turn, change your voice.

The way we stand and sit has a profound effect on the way we sing. We become so familiar with our habits which restrict our posture that any attempt to change to a freer state can ‘feel’ wrong and unfamiliar. One of the advantages of doing Alexander Technique with a choir is that any change is reinforced by the immediate feedback of an improved sound.

Take a seat

Is there a conspiracy afoot amongst the designers of institutional furniture to create chairs that are at odds with everything we know about the healthy human structure? The typical rehearsal room posture tends to follow this pattern: the arms feel too heavy to hold up the score, so we rest it on our lap (with one leg crossed over the other) and sag down to peer at it (see below). Then, to turn an already bad situation into a disaster, the choirmaster requires our attention, so we tighten the backs of our necks to look up. At this point we try ‘straightening up’–pulling the shoulders back, raising the breastbone and arching the lower back. This requires considerable effort, creates fatigue and is difficult to sustain over even short periods of time–hardly a conducive state for singing!

Becoming more open


Many people do not open their mouths to sing. They open their heads–by tightening the muscles around the base of the skull, lifting the nose in the air and keeping the jaw fixed (see left). This causes excess pressure to bear down on the larynx, ribs and diaphragm and leads to vocal strain. By releasing the muscles that suspend your jaw you can open your mouth more easily.

Look in a mirror – preferably the three-way sort, like an old dressing table mirror. Let your lips be softly together. Think of releasing your jaw muscles, from your temples along the old-fashioned sideburns area (see right). Without tipping your nose either up or down, let your lower set of teeth drop away from your upper set. Open your lips and vocalise an ‘aahh’.

Sitting bones

Place your hands under your buttocks and find two bony knobbles: these are your sitting bones. What happens to your sitting bones:
a) When you slump? (How does this affect your head, neck and body relationship?)
b) When you pull your shoulders back and chest up, military-style?
With your head leading, rock back and forth on your sitting bones until you find the point where they are pointing down directly into the chair. Think of directing your knees away from your sitting bones and slightly away from each other. How does this affect your body as a whole? Now sing!

Arms and eyes

Imagine that you have puppet strings attached to your elbows, wrists and fingers. The puppeteers raise your arms with minimum effort on your part. Repeat this experiment holding the score. Using only your eyes, alternate between looking at the score and looking at an imaginary conductor (below).

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End gaining

An Alexander Technique expression for using excess effort to achieve a given end. Think of the poor old sopranos and tenors, noses and shoulders up in the air, trying to achieve their high notes.

In the bass and alto sections chins are compressed into throats as thev strive for that low note. These habits may feel right at the time but the end result is rarely satisfying.

Easy does it

There are singers who make the most demanding roles look and sound effortless. Although we may not all become Pavarottis, this quality of ease is learnable: imagine you have an octave mapped out along your spine and head. The lowest note is on your bottom, then your lower abdomen, upper abdomen, breast-bone, neck, base of skull, forehead and finally the crown of your head. Sing up the octave to your crown; and down to your bottom again.

Many singers squeeze up to ‘end gain’ the high notes and pull down along the front for the low notes (right), so try it the other way round – the highest note at your bottom and the lowest at your crown. This can lead to greater ease and appropriate effort in your singing.

A word about breathing

Associated with the habit of stiffening the neck, singers often suck in what feels like a large chestful of air (watch a choir just about to sing). In doing so they become like an over-inflated balloon and the air rapidly rushes away. If you take care of your posture in the ways outlined above, your breathing will tend to take care of itself. During warm-ups allow time for your breath to return unhurriedly between phrases.

Take five

‘Is there a special Alexander way of feeling calmer when you are in a hurry?’ students often ask. ‘Yes,’ comes my reply, ‘leave home five minutes earlier than usual’.

Take five leisurely minutes to warm up before choir practice. Remember a favourite time and place–an experience in which you had plenty of time and space. Relive what you were seeing, hearing and feeling. Stay with this experience for a little while longer. Now vocalise an ‘aahh’ or sing.

During busy rehearsals it may feel as if there is insufficient time to warm up, but being physically relaxed and mentally alert will pay dividends in choral singing. Current research suggests that people learn faster when they are in a calm and collected state, and one way of preparing for rehearsals and performances is to use the Alexander ‘active resting’ position (below). This gives maximum support to your spine– feet flat on the floor, knees pointing up to the ceiling about shoulder-width apart–alleviating pressure on the lower back.


The head-rest (some books will do) encourages release in the muscles that join the back of the neck to the base of your skull. It should be neither too high (or your chin will compress your throat) nor too low (or your chin will stick up in the air). Imagine the four ‘corners’ of your back–head, shoulders and tail bone– spreading and lengthening and widening away from each other and on to the floor. Use the active resting position for ten minutes a day or before rehearsals.


About The Writer

Alan Mars has been a STAT qualified teacher of the Alexander Technique since 1982. He has taught Alexander Technique and voice-work at many leading performing arts institutions including – the Arts Educational Drama School, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal College of Music. Alan has taught Alexander Technique based presentation skills to staff from many top public and private companies including Abbey National; General Electric; Sainsbury’s; Lloyds of London; Comet; the Royal Pharmaceutical Society; BNFL; the Probation Service to name but a few. Alan regularly coaches at senior management level. He is the author of a book on presentation skills “Presenter” published by Hodder & Stoughton.

Alan Mars
Alan Mars, Brighton & Hove Alexander Technique,
26 Ventnor Villas, Brighton & Hove, BN3 3DE
Tel: 01273 747 289 or 07930 323 057
Email:  Web:

Related Articles:

Singing, Health & Happiness

 The Lychen Choir – a growing collection of community singing with lyrics and MP3 soundfiles

Choral Links and Resources:

British Choirs on the Net


Hear the Choirs Sing

Choral Public Domain Library – one of the world’s largest free sheet music sites.

Musica.Net – Virtual Music Choral Library

Choral evensong on BBC radio 3


Dancing with Celtic Cadences

September 24, 2008

Scottish Social Dance & Ceilidh in Brighton & Hove

Scottish Ceildh - one, two, three!
Alan & Harriet - Celtic Cadences discoScottish Ceilidh conviviality

Scottish Ceilidh HarpsongScottish Ceilidh Tartan GallopScottish Ceilidh Celtic Cabaret

More Scottish dance clips:-
The Gay Gordons – Youtube + text
Circassian Circle – Youtube + text
Virginia Reel – Youtube + text

Dancing with Celtic Cadences by Harriet Anderson

What kind of dances will you be doing at a Celtic Cadences evening? Well, that’s easy to answer. You’ll enjoy some easy ceilidh and Scottish country dances which are suitable for everyone. Wrapped up in an evening of Scottish song, music and poetry.

Want to find out more about traditional Scottish dance? Then read on for my highly personal view.

You could say there are three broad categories of dances associated with Scotland: Ceilidh dances; Highland dances; and Scottish country dances. Probably most of us first make the acquaintance of Scottish dancing at a ceilidh – the Gaelic word for a celebration, a joyful gathering. Traditionally this included songs, music, poetry, storytelling and dance. Nowadays, however, it’s come to be restricted to dancing and to mean a large number of people (often in various states of inebriation) more or less stumbling through a relatively small number of ceilidh dances sometimes with the help of a caller. The music is supplied by a band, often accordion or piano, fiddle, bodhran, guitar.

Ceilidh dances are characterised by their simplicity and you can easily walk your way through them. They’re standards at Scottish weddings, birthday bashes and the like. In Vienna you’ve got to know the Waltz, in Edinburgh you’ve got to know the Gay Gordons. In both cultures, knowing a few basic dances is a social skill, like table manners and tipping. The ceilidh dances are great fun and highly sociable. They’re for crowds, for laughs and anyone can do them. Which is more than can be said for Highland dancing. I will be brief here as I can find almost nothing good to say about it. It strikes me as one of the most unsociable forms of dance ever thought up by human brain, as well as being absolute murder to perform. Basically, you dance on your lonesome ownsome, upper body perfectly straight and upright, feet doing all kind of elaborate flicks and jumps, all with pointed toes. It’s what you see at Highland Games dance competitions. I find it awful to watch. The only interesting feature is that it’s usually danced to bagpipe music. But enough said.

Which brings us to Scottish country dance. Despite its name, which is suggestive of rustic peasants clodhopping around a maypole, the term Country dance actually derives from Contra dance, meaning dances in which you stand opposite your partner in a long line down the room, ladies on one side, gentlemen on the other. Think of those dance scenes in the innumerable film adaptations of Jane Austen novels and you’ve got the right idea. It’s Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy translated into Scottish.

Many of these dances have their origins in the royal courts of France or were standard English country (contra) dances which wended their way up north. These dances then filtered down through the social strata so that they were indeed popular dances, danced equally in the elegant ballrooms of Edinburgh high society and at village gatherings of rural lowland Scotland – and also, according to Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, by witches and warlocks:

And, vow! Tam saw an unco sight!

Warlocks and witches in a dance;

Nae cotillon brent new frae France,

But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels,

Put life and mettle in their heels.

(1790, R Burns – Tam O’Shanter)

Thus Robert Burns on the wild dances of the witches in his epic poem Tam O’Shanter, the recitation of which, at least in part, graces every Burns Night celebration. And interestingly enough it’s still jigs, strathspeys and reels (although not so much hornpipes) which are the three main types of dance in what today is called Scottish country dance.

These dances are danced to band music, often piano and fiddle but sometimes larger bands. The dance tunes are sometimes modern but frequently they’re traditional tunes, which would have been well known to Burns. Indeed, many of Burns‘ most glorious poems are set to the traditional dance tunes of his day. And in turn, many of the dances devised today set to those tunes are given the name of the Burns poem associated with it. The Lea Rig, for example, is a moving love song by Burns set to a traditional tune and also a most wonderful strathspey danced to that very same tune.

Strathspeys are the most elegant and courtly of Scottish country dances. They are danced to slow airs with a distinctive dotted rhythm and usually the most beautiful melodies. I absolutely love them. You can really play with different levels of elevation (down – up – down). You can cover a large amount of ground with the travelling step. You can make generous, sweeping curves in a most graceful way. They just make me feel very regal. You also have time to play with proximity and distance and believe me, it can get very erotic: that brief touch of the hands, the haughty look, the longing gaze. There’s a rich seam to be mined there. Reels and jigs are another matter. They are fast, energetic, bouncy. Here lightness is of the essence. And precise timing and phrasing.

Of course what today goes under Scottish country dancing is not what Burns and his witches would have done. Some dances have indeed survived from his time, although new dances are being devised as well, but the balletic steps which are usually taught as Scottish country dance steps date from the early twentieth century. However it is also possible to walk, trot or run your way through Scottish country dances. Or indeed you can just to do your own thing with your feet, so long as it fits the music. The dance figures range from simple to complex but are usually comfortingly geometrical and regular – a bit like the Scottish tartans.

But far more important than neat footwork or fancy dance figures is the fact that all the Scottish country dances are social dances. They originate from a time when dance had a central social function, especially that of a matchmaker (see Elizabeth Bennett and co.).

And it’s this social aspect which Celtic Cadences stands for. And you never know, you might meet the man or woman of your dreams as well – if you haven’t met them already!

Contact: Alan Mars on 01273 747 289 or 07930 323 057