|Type of post:||Chorus news item|
|Date Posted:||Thu, 1 Dec 2016|
If there's one thing I've learned about singing it's that you need never stop learning about singing! There is always further to go, more to learn. When I first started singing it was in the chorus of a small amateur dramatics group. Productions are taken very seriously and much work goes in to learning words and tunes. When I was cast in my first principle role, acting and singing solo, I thought it couldn't get more serious than that. Singing solo is a different ball game, and holding a tune against an orchestra and chorus is challenging, even when it's s a well known melody.
As I became more comfortable with battling the orchestra alone, the next step was duetting with another character and it was then that I started being asked to sing simple harmonies. This awakened in me a love for singing in harmony which just cannot be satisfied by singing solo.
Fast forward a year or so and I joined a local choir. The leap from show tunes and old time music hall to classical and sacred music was exciting, and the choir sang in four part harmony, soprano, alto, tenor and bass (SATB) and singing alto, I was able to scratch that harmony itch! In both of the choirs I have sang in, singers are allowed to use sheet music, and whilst this is a useful crutch, it does mean that often the singers are not following the primary rule...."Watch the Conductor". Again, I thought that singing couldn't get much more challenging.
Then it happened! A friend from my drama group invited me to join a small, newly formed group called Black Sheep Harmony Ladies Chorus. She told me that they were ladies who sang in four part harmony in the Barbershop style. Having only heard Barbershop on The Simpsons, I thought I knew what I was letting myself in for. I was mistaken. From the first chord I was hooked, it was completely different to anything I'd done before.
The learning is done differently, instead of practicing with music at rehearsal, the learning is done at home with teach track and sheet music, so that when you get to rehearsal, you can start singing the song straight away. All without any instruments, and eventually without sheet music!! Vocal lines are named after the male Barbershop lines of tenor (the highest harmony part), lead (usually but not always sings the tune), baritone (fills in all the fabulous harmonies in the middle) and bass (the lowest of the harmony parts). I was lucky to be asked to sing baritone, a vocal part as rewarding as it is challenging.
But if you thought that singing was just getting the right words and notes in the right order, then think again. There is so much more to it! Every week, we are given lessons in techniques to improve vocal quality, breathing, vowel matching, even posture. It all affects the sound made by the chorus.
Thanks to joining Black Sheep Harmony, I now have the absolute pleasure to sing with three other chorus members in a quartet called The SongSmiths, and we have competed on the national stage as well as singing at local concerts and events. I feel that maybe this could be the pinnacle of my singing, that my singing "career" has led me to this point, and yet, I still have so much to learn. I am still on my musical journey, along with all the other ladies in the chorus and quartet, and it is such a joy!
Singing with others in close harmony brings people closer together, and the sense of achievement when it all goes right is incredible, it really does make you feel good.
Sue Davis, Baritone!