In Perfect Harmony

Year 11 student Stephanie Wood talks about her passion for singing in a choir while managing her other obligations.

Stephanie Wood is a Year 11 student at Cambridge International School — Dubai and a keen musician who has been a member of the GEMS Choir since its creation in September 2017. She is a dedicated and committed member of the Alto/Mezzo-Soprano section and has participated in a variety of concerts, events, and workshops with the group.

How did you develop an interest in singing and why did you decide to audition for the GEMS Choir?

Singing has always been my primary passion since I was exposed to it at a very young age. I have been involved in concerts, plays, and choirs since I can remember. When the opportunity to audition for the GEMS Choir came up, I jumped at it. I hadn’t been singing as much as I wanted and I missed performing on stage, but the choir gives me the chance to sing every week. Fully aware of the commitment I was going to need to make, my parents and I agreed that I should audition.

What is the best part about singing in a choir?

Knowing that I am part of a team that shares my goal and passion is an amazing experience. I also learn new things about the world of music while bettering my skills in a way I wouldn’t have been able to do without the help of the teachers that contribute to the GEMS Choir.

What practice techniques do you adopt and recommend?

I always do a small warm up before singing, using exercises learned from my choir directors or from YouTube. I listen to a new song twice before attempting to sing it to reduce errors. Another key point is to make sure to trust yourself with the notes when you know for a fact that you have rehearsed the lyrics diligently.

Stephanie Wood and conductor Ben Gernon

What are some of your best musical achievements and experiences so far?

Jingle Bell Favourites at Dubai Opera was one of my best musical experiences. The extravagant venue and the chance to work with stars like Freddie Tapner, London Concert Orchestra Show Band, Capital Voices Choir, and star soloists Alison Jiear and Matt Little made those three performances unforgettable. I also enjoyed performing in the Rajmahal Theatre at Bollywood Parks Dubai and Riverland, both part of Dubai Parks and Resorts. I also fondly remember working with conductor Ben Gernon, as the experience allowed me to gain insight into how a choir and a conductor can communicate through a piece, allowing both parties to cooperate and making the song more intriguing.

What are your other interests? How do you balance choir practice, rehearsals, and school work?

All the credit for my commitment and time management goes to my parents, as I wouldn’t be able to do half the things I do for the choir if it weren’t for them driving me to places, maintaining schedules, and helping me to stay on top of my schoolwork. In my free time, I unwind on my phone or listen to audio tracks of our songs. I know that my studies are important, however, and I do my very best to make time for practice so that I can manage my tasks and balance my hobbies and education.

How does singing in a choir benefit you?

Regular practice allows me to continuously improve my skills and teaches me to be diligent in every area of my life. Participating in the GEMS Choir allows me to balance my education and the things that I enjoy, not to mention, the fulfillment I feel while performing.