June 1st 2018, the first day of ‘Lead In’ was clear, sunny and still across New Zealand; the perfect weather for kiwi song leaders to travel from any where on either island and arrive at Teapot Valley Retreat in Nelson for SLNA’s national gathering. Nelson’s hospitality was evident from the start with members sharing their cars, and locals shuttling people from the airport, who then gathered around TPV’s dining room fireplace chatting and laughing with new or renewed friends.
As darkness fell across the valley, we sat in a circle and guided by the editors Julian Raphael and Carol Shortis we opened and began our singing together with ‘Haere Mai’ from SLNA’s freshly minted song book ‘Songs from the Land.’ With thirty four original songs written by SLNA members to explore, an ongoing highlight of ‘Lead In 2018’ was the opportunity to be introduced to many of these songs by the composers themselves.
“It was an amazing treat to be taught the songs by the composers.”
“The song book is such a wonderful resource and getting to hear the story of how they were inspired makes them really come alive.”
Next up was our first meal together. Meal times proved to be an informal yet highly fruitful time where members made or deepened their connections and shared generously of their experiences.
“I enjoyed being informal & sharing our experiences & resources; making strong connections.”
“Fantastic opportunity to network, share ideas & tools.”
After dinner we separated into two streams, Singing for Health; led by Andrea Robinson, Kate Sanders-O’Connor & John Paul Young or Community Song leaders; led by Julian Raphael & Carol Shortis. These groups met over the weekend in four sessions covering a range of themes, providing both practical skills and reflective discussions in support their types of song leading. This was both successful and frustrating as members expressed their enthusiasm and appreciation by not wanting to miss out on any moment of learning available!
“Stream sessions were useful and a good chance to share ideas.”
“Felt very inclusive – participation on equal terms.”
“The streams were beautifully run but I wanted to go to both streams so it was difficult choosing which to do.”
Saturday and Sunday’s programmes kept everyone too engaged to spare much thought to the chill outside by adding workshops and song swap sessions to the mix. The workshops were open to everyone and were proffered as a space to go a little more deeply into an aspect of song leading through ‘hands on’ exercises, questions and discussion.
“Workshopswere very productive, varied, interesting & interactive.”
“Lots of great ideas to take away. A good mix of talking and doing.”
The song swap sessions, which were run as ‘sign up’ sessions of 15 minutes each where any song leader could share a song in whole or part, were oversubscribed and continued long into the evening.
“Varied & fun.”“loved singing, informal evenings & experiential learning”
“Very good song swaps featuring a high standard of differing styles of leading.”
Monday morning arrived too soon and we spent it singing a last few gems from ‘Songs from the Land’ followed by the SLNA AGM for 2018.
‘Lead In 2018’ closed with a moving circle of song expressing love and gratitude.
“Thank you-best weekend of the year so far”
“Thanks to everyone involved in creating the event, materials, song book.”
“I feel like you need to have three warnings for future Lead Ins. This weekend may forge new connections, involve a ridiculous amount of fun and explode your brain with music and learning.”