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How is it you sing?

What music to write about whilst in lockdown? I could probably write an essay on its multifaceted and adapted role in people’s lives! Lockdown has made me think about our relationship with music even more than usual. Whereas some musicians produce their best creative output during a breakup or low point in their life, I’m the opposite. Singing brings emotions of the singer bubbling to the surface, and it’s been extremely difficult to motivate myself to sing at home during the pandemic: I find it near impossible to sing when I’m sad!



When thinking about this blog piece, I was reminded of a song I used to sing regularly, years ago. Taken from Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd it is a song that is sometimes cut from stage productions. This fact, along with the words themselves, reflect how many musicians have been grieving the loss of live performance, rehearsing and performing with others, and sharing their gift with audiences. Johanna, daughter of Sweeney, is kept locked up in Judge Turpin’s house under his “guardianship” until she is old enough for him to marry her. Johanna sings of her desire for freedom – her frustration at seeing the outside world but not being allowed out – comparing herself to a caged songbird. It ends with the resolution: If I cannot fly, let me sing! A reminder to me, and other musicians, that we can adapt and take joy from the current “normal”, even if it’s not the natural music-making we’re accustomed to and love.

Green finch, and linnet bird,
Nightingale, blackbird,
How is it you sing?
How can you jubilate
sitting in cages
never taking wing?
Outside the sky waits
beckoning!
Beckoning!

Just beyond the bars…
How can you remain
staring at the rain
maddened by the stars?
How is it you sing
anything?
How is it you sing?

Green finch. and linnet bird,
nightingale, blackbird
How is it you sing?
Whence comes this melody
constantly floating?
Is it rejoicing or merely aloaming?
Are you discussing?
Or fussing?
Or simply dreaming?
Are you crowing?
Are you screaming?

Ringdove and robinet
is it for wages?
Singing to be sold?
Have you decided it’s safer in cages
singing when you’re told?
My cage has many rooms
damask and dark…
Nothing there sings,
not even my lark.
Larks never will, you know,
when they’re captive.
Teach me to be more
adaptive.

Ah…

Green Finch, and Linnet Bird,
nightingale, blackbird,
teach me how to sing.
If I cannot fly…
Let me sing!

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Jennifer Maslin
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Luisa Santos-Stephens
Luisa Santos-Stephens
14:56 20 Nov 19
Jennifer is an incredible singer. We had her with Cafe Society to play at my 40th and it was everything I could dream off- they played beautiful music, and brought a very good vibe to the party. All the guests talked about how great they were, with a repertoire of very nice songs which we loved to listen to, but at the same time allowing us to keep the conversation going. I can’t recommend her enough.
Lisa Purcell
Lisa Purcell
19:34 03 Sep 19
Jenny sang beautifully at our wedding in August 2019! She moved many members of the congregation to tears with her amazing singing. We absolutely loved it and would highly recommend her. Each time we meet up with friends and family that were there, they all comment on how amazing her singing was and how much they enjoyed it! She sang a Maori love song perfectly - commented the relatives from New Zealand! X
Rachel McGuckin
Rachel McGuckin
16:06 27 Jun 19
Jenny was the absolute highlight of our wedding ceremony. We picked some tricky songs and she had the whole audience joining in at the chorus. Luckily they didn't join at all points because it gave everyone a chance to hear her beautiful voice as well! I can't recommend highly enough.
Kate McNamara
Kate McNamara
14:36 12 Jun 19
Jenny was amazing from the moment I enquired about her playing the violin at our wedding ceremony. So quick to respond, helpful, friendly, flexible & professional, and was able to recommend songs and even learnt a new song for the exit music. I was so confident that she had everything under control which was invaluable and it was something on the day that I knew I just didn’t have to worry about. Jenny is so talented and it really added to the ceremony, I am so pleased that I found her! Thank you so so much!
Aimee Curry
Aimee Curry
13:56 15 Feb 19
We highly recommend Jenny! She played amazing violin music beautifully at our wedding. Jenny was so lovely and was so approachable and helpful to plan our ceremony music which was a highlight of the day and also the drinks reception music.
T Whyte
T Whyte
19:17 30 Jan 19
Jenny sang at our wedding - her music set the tone and made for a truly special experience. She has a beautiful voice, is very easy to work with, and worked seamlessly with our (very exacting) venue to get everything just right. Thank you Jenny!
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