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posted Feb 6, 2019, 1:00 AM by Kathy Scheel   [ updated Feb 6, 2019, 8:19 AM ]

WOW - WOW - WOW!   You were singing so well tonight - what a wonderful difference it makes when everyone BREATHES together (and knows the music)!  It improves synchronization (the basis of all ensemble singing) and makes everything fall into place!  Thanks for your focus and energy tonight, especially since I'm sure some of you were concerned about whether the roads would be safe on your way home.  We missed those who couldn't make it and look forward to seeing them again next week.

Before I provide some feedback on the songs in our performance package, I want to mention what may happen this weekend (Feb 9-10).  It looks like there is a chance of snow on Saturday night, so Elaine and I will be in touch with each other and will make a decision by about 2:00pm on Thursday, so keep a close eye on your emails for updates.  We are hoping we won't need to cancel our coaching with Tori Postma, but it will depend on the timing of the snow event.  If it's not expected until Saturday evening, we will very likely still be able to get a full day with her on Saturday, but may need to cancel Sunday.  I've only heard from 2 people who cannot attend, so it should be a great day of singing and learning, sprinkled with plenty of laughter and fun (you're gonna love Tori)!  I'll post a more detailed schedule in a separate Kathy's Korner on Thursday but be prepared to sing many of the songs that we're working on (not just the two contest songs, although they will be the focus of the sessions).  Keep posted!

Tonight (2/5) there was some really good singing and I sure appreciate the work you're all putting in to make sure you are rock solid on the songs.  Now that you know the notes & words, it's time to add in the passion, emotion, energy, humor, body language, facial expressions, and all the other facets of a really great performance that the audience will remember.  Dig deep and find that passion and let it fly (while maintaining a tremendous focus on the fine points of ensemble singing).  If it's something that's foreign to you, hey, fake it till ya make it and you'll become more and more comfortable with that element of performance.  But it takes lots of practice and repetition ... start now, and video yourself about once every but don't delete your first video - it's good for measuring your progress!

Here are the notes for each song - some of these are slightly different from the notes on the package that I sent you as we made a few improvements when we ran through the songs:

  • Great job!  Basses kept that tempo moving forward with energy (and doing the penguin slap), and the tenors, baritones, and leads did a nice job in showing the audience the fun of this number.  
  • Leads, you have a tendency to be just a bit late on your attacks (first notes of phrase), so work on really feeling that tempo and breathing just a fraction of a second earlier so you're right on time.  
  • Homework for everyone:
    • Practice the choreography.  I'll be singing with you so you can take your cues from me, but it's much better if you know it on your own, and can perform with total confidence.  By the way, I'm using both hands for the "I can't see me lovin' nobody but you" phrases; you'll only use your outside hand.
    • Practice with a metronome set at 132 bpm.
  • Leads move towards the front (but maybe not into the "V" - tbd); baritones move back to the risers (but stay towards the front); tenors move up one row; basses stay on top.
  • The intro is very gentle and retrospective: leads sing it more softly, and tenors be ready to come in on time with a pure vowel.  
  • Basses, keep on the upper side of all the notes on page 1, "finding your love".
  • Baritones, need more of you on the end of the intro, "your love".
  • Sing the phrase "that trembles on the brink of a lovely song"
  • Always keep that tonic note (F) running in your head, and tune to the leads.
  • Every breath has meaning and emotion - add energy into the breaths throughout the song.
  • On m44, I want to hold the chord longer on "-day" so take a big breath and be prepared for that.
  • The tag should start somewhat soft and gradually build.  Work on that.
  • Homework for everyone:
    • Sing the intro and check to be sure you're staying in pitch (F), if so keep going; if not, do it again.  Train yourself to stay in key.
    • Work on the tag - it's fairly high for everyone, so sing it with no tension.
  • Move into sections for this one. Do it deliberately, no wandering around - plan your route.
  • This song is sounding really good, but remember that when the tenors start singing, they have the melody so all the other parts should back off on the volume a bit.
  • Sing this directly to the audience for the first couple of pages, until I come back to the middle - then eyes on me.
  • Basses remember to listen for the tenor note on the tag so it's a perfectly tuned octave (which means singing it just a tad bit higher).
SISTER ACT (pitch:  C - this is raised from B )
  • As I'm introducing the song, the octet moves forward to the center mics while the rest of you move towards to edges of the risers and sit down.  You'll watch the octet perform, giving them your love and support, but don't clap when they're done (since they are an extension of us).
  • As they are singing, someone will get the gloves and glow sticks. They'll be under a black towel on the top riser; since they will be out of sight, the glow sticks can be turned "on" when we enter the stage during intermission.
SWEET DREAMS (pitch:  E - this is raised from D#)
  • As soon as the octet is done singing, I'll go to the mic and talk to the audience while you get the glow sticks and gloves ready and move into the long one-line semicircle.  The lights will stay on bright white so it won't be real obvious as you pull out the glow sticks and hold them at about waist level with your hands touching your neighbors'.  The 6 ladies will put the gloves on and come forward.  Then the lights will go out, the gloved ladies will turn around, and the audience will get the full effect.  I'll count 1-2-3 and we'll sing it to the delight of the audience.  (Baritones check your notes; I heard some errors.
PEACE ON EARTH (pitch:  B)
  • Remove the glow sticks and gloves and store them under the black towel as Elaine is introducing the next song, setting the mood for the audience.  
  • The gloved ladies will merge into the long semi-circle so scoot outward to make room for them.
  • This song has a strong and powerful message so rehearse it with a great amount of meaning.  Are you allowing your body to move just a bit?  Are your eyes sparkling and alive? Think of what YOU would like to see when you go to a concert - become THAT performer!
AND SO IT GOES (pitch:  D# - this is raised from D)
  • Move into friendship pods, look at each other, give support for the lost love that's depicted in this song. It's okay to look at each other briefly, as long as you don't get out of sync or lose sight of the director, so pick those places carefully and don't linger.
  • The higher key should be easier to sing for the basses/baritones.  
  • Baritones, check your notes on this; there are some audible errors.
  • There are some sections that need to move along more, so watch me carefully - really FEEL the ebb and flow of the poetry.
  • There are also some really strong dynamics in a few places, and also a few really tender places - just like our feelings.  My body language is real clear, so when in doubt just do what you see me doing with my face and body language (not my hands - ha!).
I'LL BE SEEING YOU (pitch:  B-flat)
  • Move into regular chorus position.  There were some voices sticking out of the sound tonight so I may make some adjustments to this before the next rehearsal.  Always sing within the sound around you; never louder than your neighbor.  Listen to those around you and don't try to lead your section with your voice.  We're an ensemble and it's all about blend and teamwork.
  • This song is coming along nicely but there are still lots of sync issues from not knowing the interpretive plan, and some of you still singing word-for-word, so think of the phrases and speak-sing.
  • Give a little more emphasis to the L on "lovely" and "light" at the bottom of page 1.
  • Homework for everyone:
    • Work on the interpretive plan for this song so it's a very natural and flowing delivery of a nostalgic message.  Every singer should approach this as if they must sing it in for an audition or in a quartet in front of the chorus.  Work to be THAT solid.
    • Smooth out the phrase delivery by focusing on the primary vowels (and barely any consonants).  Bubble a phrase and feel the freedom and lack of tension of airflow; now sing the phrase that same way.
    • Send your recording to your section leader today.  The sooner you do this, the sooner you'll get the evaluation notes and will know what to work on, and what you're doing well.
    • Sing with the Lead track by Smitty to get the feel of the interpretive plan.  Memorize how it flows.
    • Video yourself to see what you are actually doing when you sing.  Then have a glass of wine and do it again. heh-heh
AFTER I'M GONE (pitch:  F)
  • Stay in regular chorus position and get the props ready when I'm telling the audience the scenario.  
  • The notes are basically correct (just a few errors scattered here and there), but the main thing that needs work is BREATHING TOGETHER IN TEMPO.  Some of you are still taking inefficient chest breaths that makes you late, so try this:  Lay down on the floor on your back, set the metronome at 164 bpm, and sing thru it.  Even speaking through it will work.  You'll feel your tummy popping up and down as you breathe from your diaphragm.  Now reproduce that feeling when you stand up.  It takes practice and a real consciencious effort on your part, but I know that you all want to sing your best, and that comes from stronger vocal skill, which don't happen overnight.  Work on it continuously and you'll love the way you feel when you suddenly realize that you're having a BLAST on stage!  That' where you wanna be!
  • Some rhythmic problems here and there, most of which are the result of not breathing together in the planned places and losing tempo.
  • Just before the first key change, be sure to breathe together quickly after "everywhere" (before "There's).  
  • I could see that many of you need to work on the visual/characterization plan.  Don't wait - get started now because the best performance comes when you are focused on good singing, because you've got the physical/facial plan totally automatic (muscle memory).  
  • Homework:
    • Lay on the floor (as described above), and sing with the metronome at 164 bpm.
    • Sing with the Lead track by Elaine.  There are just two missing on that track: the little oopsy sound at the end of m54 after "floor", and the loving sigh just before the tag.
    • Practice the visual plan (especially the characterization) by going thru the written plan (in the music library folder for this song), and watching the youtube video:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvvl4hemV6E&feature=youtu.be 
      • Note:  I just listened to the video and I'm definitely rushing the beat in areas, so mainly look at the different facial expessions and the freedom of movement - never standing completely still - lots of body language.  There are some places where you will be reacting to someone/something and those are noted int he written plan.  I'll do another video when I get dressed again - ha! Or if we are able to get together this weekend, we'll make a good video for everyone.  But go ahead and work on it every day so you can think about SINGING well.  The more you do it, the easier and more natural it becomes - have fun!
  • Take one step to the outside (on my cue) so there are two evenly balanced choruses - Part 1 and Part 2.   Everyone sings the intro, then Part 1 sings while Part 2 turns and looks at them; then Part 2 sings while Part 1 turns and looks at them. Then everyone sings the tag together.
  • The Part 2 group needs to work on smoothing out the phrases and not allowing voices to stick out of the sound.  
  • Some of you (including some who are not performing) don't know the lyrics on this, so be sure you really know it.
  • Homework:
    • Sing with more focus on VOWELS and much less consonants.
    • Breathing plan:  "And let me write a song for the world to sing and I'll have fun (breath) in just one lifetime" - every time we sing this phrase, this is the breathing plan (some of you are breathing after "sing").
After the last song, you'll continue smiling (with teeth showing) while the audience applauds and the curtain is closed.  Someone will pick up the props, sticks, and gloves, and we'll leave the stage quickly and quietly and go around and enjoy the rest of the show.  There is a men's quartet (Local Boyz) after us, then the host chorus (Oregon Trail Pitchpipers), so we probably shouldn't go clear up to the balcony.  We'll find a place for us to go that will not be disruptive.  It's possible there will be open seats in the back of the main floor, so we'll scope it out.  Then there is a curtain call at the end of the show, and I'm sure we'll be expected to come onto the stage.   The men have a song similar to our "How We Sang Today" that they traditionally sing at the end of their shows.  Go to youtube and enter Keep the Whole World Singing (barbershop) and you'll hear the song so you can get familiar with it; here are the lyrics: 
Keep the whole world singing all day long.  Watch goodwill come a'winging on a song.
Smile the while you are singing, oh, carry your part. 
Keep a melody ringing and ringing in your heart.

After the show, we'll go over to the afterglow and sing a few songs and learn a few tags with the guys and have a great time unwinding.  

If we are not able to have a full weekend of coaching this coming weekend (due to the stupid timing of the snow), we may need to come to Canby earlier than 1:30 so we can get some much-needed practice in and get really prepared to wow 'em.  I'll let you know about that as soon as possible but please be flexible and prepared for whatever happens.  We all want the same thing:  to put on a really good performance and earn that awesome $400 they are paying us to be special guests on their show.  

As Marcia Pinvidic said last weekend at AIM, rehearse your standing ovation performance.