Our musical director, Janet Russell, is a member of the Natural Voice Practitioners’ Network, and recognizes the right and ability of everyone to sing. The NVPN places importance on physical and vocal warm-ups for everyone and Janet will take any group or choir through a warm-up at the start of a session. The aim is to promote enjoyment and draw out the best of any individual’s voice – we are all different, and people’s voices don’t necessarily fit into vocal pigeonholes, but the better we know our own voices, the better we can use them to make the sounds we want.
Janet hopes to pass on knowledge she has gained in her own practice, and from other great teachers such as Frankie Armstrong and Sandra Kerr, as well as respected colleagues in the UK and abroad. With a background in performance starting back in the early 80’s Janet brings a wealth of experience to her work with groups and choirs.
At the end of 2001 Janet produced the first English performances of “The Christmas Truce” with Coope Boyes and Simpson. “Well done. Professional, moving, beautifully sung.... Best wishes - Roy” (from Roy Bailey) a show which received a standing ovation at the Sheffield Raise Your Banners Festival in November 2001. The show ran successfully again in November 2002. In March 2005 the same team put on two performances of “Hearts of Coal” celebrating the lives of miners and mining communities with the Roses and Thorns choir, a magnificent group of 80 voices from across northern England.
Whilst promoting singing projects for Yorkshire Dales Workshops between 1997 and 2008 Janet worked in schools and community projects alongside Black Umfolosi (performance group from Zimbabwe), Wilma Kennedy (Scots Gaelic singer) Brigitte Kloareg (Breton singer now resident in Wales), and singers from Georgia and Sweden, seeking to provide as great a variety of vocal experiences for the surrounding community as possible. Janet also worked as musical director for Mikron Theatre for ten years, directing songs written by partner Jim Woodland. There were two more projects with the Roses and Thorns choir “The Toilers’ Gift” with Jim Boyes and Barry Coope, and The Chartists project produced by Andrew Bibby.
Janet’s latest project combines song with social and percussive dance. The four woman group called “JigJaw” performs and sings for dances as an instrumental band would do, but also offer workshops in singing for dancing and dancing to singing. See the website www.jigjaw.co.uk.
Janet works with another two community choirs, in Silsden and Burnley, and continues to perform and to facilitate voice and harmony workshops, guesting with many of the community choirs in Yorkshire and Lancashire. She lives in Silsden together with partner Jim Woodland, song composer, playwright and community arts worker, and their two sons.