Monthly Archives: December 2013

Magic Choral Trick #292 Playing Well With Others

sea belles show dec 2013 Sea Belles elm city echoes and meadowlarksMy parents and siblings and I were involved in two shows this past weekend, in two different cities. But one very powerful thing they had in common was the joining together of different singing groups in the one event.

My performance was an all Barbershop event. My women’s chorus invited the women’s chorus (and their rising star quartet) from a nearby city to come and sing on our show.

Meanwhile, one time zone away, my parents, siblings and nieces and nephews were performing in a church concert that featured a men and boys’ choir, the Cathedral girls’ choir, a small, a cappella women’s group and the local high school choir. I’m told that it was an eye opener for all the singers to hear and appreciate the quality of music being made by other singing groups in the community.

We become cloistered with our choirs – and for the most part, there seems to be not much cross pollination between groups. (Perhaps not a bad thing at Christmas when singing in two or three different ensembles could lead to some tricky performance timing conflicts.) But by singing alongside other choirs we get much more of a sense of the bigger game, and just how important singing is to us humans.

As much as it’s intriguing to listen to other groups and evaluate the work they’re doing, imagining how you might do things differently – what’s going on your head at times like this doesn’t really matter. It’s what suddenly goes on in your heart.

As I was directing the combined women’s choruses in Mary Did You Know, I was struck by how much our hearts hunger for these exquisite musical moments – electrical moments that you wish could go on forever. We were loving singing together so much, that the level of attention in the very quiet section at the end felt as if it were crackling with energy.

In these moments, yes we love singing – but much more importantly, we love each other.

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Magic Choral Trick #291 Two Elbowed Thinker

Men of Fundy Two Elbowed ThinkerA number of years ago my husband asked me to sing the vocal line for one of his songs so he could record it.

We ran it a couple of times before recording it, and because I was feeling wretchedly unwell, I was sitting down and leaning forward with my elbows on my knees, reading the music which was on the seat of another chair facing me – so my head wasn’t raised.

This was such an effortless position in which to sing, that I stayed right there as we recorded the song.

Tried this last night with my men’s Barbershop chorus – and the sound was rich and full, ringing, blended and effortless. I had them all sit in a circle, on chairs, and leaning forward – elbows on knees.

I let them sing the song intro a few times themselves – but the breaths were a bit slow, and the interpretation not as perky as I wanted it. So because they still needed me to direct, and I didn’t want them raising their heads, I sat cross legged on the floor in the middle of the circle to direct.

If and when we decide to make a CD, I think this is the way we’ll record it!!

(The above photo was taken just after we’d finished the exercise, so not everyone visible in the photo is still in position – but you get the idea)

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