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SUMMARY 'N STUFF - 5/15/19

posted May 15, 2019, 7:21 AM by Kathy Scheel   [ updated May 15, 2019, 7:25 AM ]

Last night was a great example of "small but mighty" -  just 17 singers produced some awesome sounds!  And we laughed and had a good time while learning some valuable lessons such as: 

  • Always, always perform with energy!
  • Take personal responsibility for bringing your A-game.
  • It takes daily (or at least regular) practice to improve in any way - breathing skills, showmanship, resonation, energy.
  • You know more than you realize!  

We reviewed the songs that we'll be performing on Saturday and took a few moments after each one to tell me what you did really well, and what you could have done better.  Then we sang through them again and YOU made the choices that made them ring and soar.  YOU added the energy, extended the phrases, amped up the showmanship with more sincerity, listened to the ensemble, watched the director, matched vowels, and all the other things that brought the songs up a level.  YOU make those choices every time we perform.  What I'd love is if you made those choices before you even hear the pitchpipe.   What a terrific gift you'd be giving yourself (and me and the whole chorus).  But it takes practice!  So each time you rehearse through the songs, make a promise to yourself that you'll add another degree of everything - especially energy and focus.  And then enjoy the feeling of supreme satisfaction on your fabulous accomplishment! 

One of the most important things we do as singers is BREATHE TO SING.  And most of you have a good grasp of the mechanics of breathing to sing but it's not quite automatic yet.  Here's a simple exercise you can do to train your body to feel the coordination of the various muscles involved so it becomes very natural and intuitive to have a solid support system.  First - do the SHH-SHH-SHH exercise.  Put a hand on your lower tummy area and as you say SHH-SHH-SHH, lift in/up on each one.  Feel the way your muscles lift the diaphragm which pushes the air out of the lungs and through your vocal tract and out the mouth on each one.  Do this several times, extending each one a little longer and longer; then do one long SHHHHhh as you lift in/up.  Make that last as long as possible as you feel the lifting and control the air as you expel it from your lungs.  Then, using that exact same action, speak a phrase of a song - lifting in/up as you speak.  Do this several times to get the feel of it; then sing it with that exact same action.  See how many phrases you can do while using this lifting action.  VOILA!  You are successfully breathing to sing!  Do this every day and you'll be amazed at how quickly the body trains itself to provide support while you're singing! 

Another thing that everyone can continue to work on is SHOWMANSHIP.  This is so much more than just the planned moves (choreography) or the characterization - it's being truly genuine and convincing that you are telling the story!  Doing whatever it takes to evoke an emotion from the audience.  Making them feel something.  That takes lots of practice but it's truly one of the most satisfying feelings as a performer!  Practice in front of a mirror or, better yet, make a video of yourself performing a song.  It's best if you watch it with no sound so you'll just get the visual impact.  Now be really honest - is there more that you can do to convince people that you are fully invested in the storytelling?  It will definitely feel very odd at first, but I guarantee you that it will get better and easier - and it's absolutely a blast once you've arrived at a place where you are totally comfortable with it.  If you practice in front of a mirror, you need to really feel and be aware of all the fascial muscles you're using so that you can reproduce those facial expressions when you are not in front of the mirror.  I think that the video self-training method is much more effective.  Give it a try. 


  • Three voices:  
    • Voice #1 - Very forward-focused and bright, say HEE-HEE-HEE - towards front of head
    • Voice #3 - Very hooty and dark, say HOLY-MOLY! - towards back of head
    • Voice #2 - Somewhere out the middle of the head, say - HELLOOOO!   CHOOSE THIS VOICE!
  • Linda O'Donnell presented the Spirited Sister Boa to Hayley Bault for working so hard each week to become her very best self.  She always has such a great, positive attitude and we love her!  Hooray for Hayley!
  • Communications - My expectation is that everyone read (and respond if appropriate) to emails within 2 days.  And please know the difference between REPLY and REPLY ALL.  Use the latter judiciously.  Only use REPLY ALL if it's absolutely necessary.
  • The Music Team will be meeting on May 28th to talk about several items:
    • Rehearsal scheduling - start/end times, vacations, my absence, attendance
    • Sectionals - possibly weekly from 6:00-7:00 with me visiting/focusing on one each week
    • Coaches - timing and cost (which is tied to finances)
    • Performance Readiness - continuing the quality assurance program 
  • Vacations - Please send a note to your section leader to let her know when you are planning a vacation this summer.  They will let me know (at our meeting in 2 weeks) so we can plan rehearsals.  I ask that you try very hard to take your vacations between Tuesdays, if at all possible, so we'll always have a well-balanced chorus as we work through new songs and keep the old songs polished and keep advancing our singing/performing skills.  
  • Change the World - You've had the music/learning tracks for over a month, so I'm expecting you to be able to sing the song next week.  You can hold your music for reference, but do your very best to KNOW the song.  Don't rely on your section leaders to teach it to you.  Take personal responsibility to be the very best chorus member you can be.
  • Whether Good, Whether Bad - We will start learning this in June.  I'll have the final arrangement very soon and hope to also get the learning tracks at the same time.  This is the very personal song that I wrote many years ago and I'm anxious to hear it sung in 4-part harmony for the first time ever.  
  • Guests - Last night when I asked how many people had invited guests, only 4 people raised your hands!  WHAT?  I thought everyone was excited about chorus and eager to share what we have and who we are and how we feel about chorus with other women!   We have to move beyond "wishing" we had 50 singers to taking ACTION, ladies!  Go out and spread the gospel of OSC!  Send an email.  Share a Facebook post. Send a postcard.  You all know people who might be interested - share your excitement (and your medal) with them and get them to visit our chorus!  The sooner they start coming, the sooner they will learn about breathing, vowels, tuning, showmanship, and all the other stuff we do - and they'll meet a ton of instant and forever friends!
  • Vocal Work - I am continuing to do Private Vocal (or Visual) Instruction in my home.  If you'd like to continue to grow as a musician and performer, let's make an appointment.  This is something that Sandy Marron actually mentioned on her Sound scoresheet because she knew that we had a great vocal program going.  Don't delay - schedule yours right away!
  • Octet Coaching - I'm also very happy to continue to coach small groups on all of the songs in our repertoire.
  • Self-Evaluations - This quality assurance program continues throughout the year, not just for the 2 contest songs.  Every song in our repertoire should be note-perfect.  Your section leaders will be checking on everyone's progress so be sure to continue to check yourself for accuracy so you can show her your awesomeness!
  • Summer AIM (Adventures in Music) - This educational workshop is on July 19-10 in Cottage Grove and registrations will open very soon.  See my separate post about this educational workshop that's so close to home!
  • Annual Installation & Awards Banquet - Elaine Rosenberg is chairing this very special evening on Tuesday, June 4th, at the Northern Lights Theatre (3893 Commercial Street) where we'll be able to watch (and discuss) our contest video on the big screen.  We'll also try to view the 2018 contest video for comparison, and the 2015 Harmony Classic video just for fun.  This is a very special night of the year for all Sweet Adelines as we say thank you to the outgoing management team and welcome to the incoming management team.  We also present various awards that everyone looks forward to - the SPIRIT AWARD (voted on my the membership), the CMT Award (selected by the management team), the DIRECTOR'S AWARD (selected by me), and the ATTENDANCE AWARD (presented by the Membership Chair).   [NOTE:  If you have invited any guests to visit OSC, be sure to let them know that we are not rehearsing at the Elks that night, but they are welcome to come to our banquet if they would like.  Offer them a ride.]   Watch for an email from Elaine on this with more details.

 Wear those medals proudly - talk about our chorus and your personal joy in being a part of the whole experience!  I look forward to seeing this chorus grow this summer.  Let's do this!! 

Love, Kathy