Kathy's Korner‎ > ‎


posted Jan 23, 2019, 9:27 PM by Kathy Scheel   [ updated Jan 23, 2019, 9:55 PM ]

We're sure on a roll this year with guests Betty Jo Kraus, Monica Streight, Dagmar Amrein, Paula Hotaling, Barb Usera, and Pam White.  And we're so pleased that we also had two successful auditions last night:  Pam White and Barb Usera will soon become members of OSC!   


 After rhythmic warmups by Judy Gobat, we did some vocal skill-building and you can practice these at home:

  • Posture - Make a circle in front of your body, like holding a large barrel, and just keep your head out of the barrel. Notice how erect your body alignment becomes.  This is the optimum posture for your instrument, so check yourself frequently and it will become your new normal.
  • Bend your knees slightly and you can feel the lower abdominal muscles engage.  This is a simple way to strengthen those muscles that tend to be ignored (not used) over the years.  Those are the muscles that initiate the upward lift that moves the air out of the lungs, through the vocal tract, and out your mouth for singing!
  • Take a big breath and blow it all out.  Did you notice how your ribs naturally relax/collapse a bit when you blow out the air?  Now try this - take a big breath and blow it all out but just resist collapse of the ribcage.  You'll feel the upward lift of the lower abdominal muscles, moving that air out of the lungs, through the vocal tract, and out your mouth.  Singing!
  • Pretend you are going to yawn and just before you go into a full-blown yawn, you'll feel the slight "widening" of the space in the back wall of the throat, the nostrils, the soft palate lift.  Now sing a note into that space that you just created.  Breathe into that "pre-yawn" space every time! It takes conscious practice, but it will add a tremendous amount of resonance to your sound.  When everyone approaches singing with a resonant sound, the chorus will achieve a greater degree of unity (no individual voices sticking out).
  • Sing the primary vowels all on one note - EE, EH, AH, OH, OO.  Focus on creating pure vowel sounds, and a seamless delivery with great smoothness.
  • To expand your vocal range, do sirens every day.  Make sure you are supporting the sound (abdominal lift) and have a very relaxed jaw and tongue.  Keep going higher and higher, then lower and lower.
  • Check for tension in your tongue/jaw by doing this:  Hold your jaw with your fingers pressed into your cheeks so that your molars are apart.  You'll know you're doing it right when you cannot swallow - this means your tongue is out of use!  Now sing a few notes; don't worry about pronunciation, just focus on the basic sound.  It should be free and relaxed and lovely!
    • Basses - relax and allow your upper/head voice into the sound (like a light soprano).  Absolutely no muscle!
    • Tenors - relax and make lots of space in the back of your throat, like a dome.  No tension in your tongue/jaw.
  • Record yourself frequently to check your progress and your accuracy.  YOU are your own best vocal teacher!



  • Denise Taylor asked everyone for input on the redesign/upgrade of our chorus website.  Please let her know your thoughts before Jan 31.
  • Diane Watson got a show of hands for going to the afterglow following our performance in Canby.  It was voted to attend, and OSC will perform!
  • Sara Amato presented the Spirited Sister boa to Karlene Hancock.  Well deserved for her wonderful positive attitude every week.


  • The performance package for February 16 will be posted in a separate Kathy's Korner so you'll see that soon.  We're going to have some fun staging and lighting effects, but the main thing is to SING and PERFORM really well.  That comes from KNOWING the music and ATTENDING rehearsals every week.  I'll be doing the riser placement next Tuesday night and I won't know if it's working (sound-wise) unless all the voices are there.  
  • We reviewed several songs tonight:
    • And So it Goes 
    • Fun in Just One Lifetime
    • All the Things You Are
    • Go Tell it on the Mountain
  • Contest songs:
    • After I'm Gone - Sounds like most of you know this but in sectionals, I'm still hearing some confusion about the interpretation/rhythms.  There's a really good Lead track (by Elaine Rosenberg) so sing along with that and you'll get it.  Practice it at home with a metronome at 164 bpm.  The best way to maintain tempo is to take quick, energized (pre-yawn) breaths every time.  Have you achieved 100% on this song?  Where are the places that need work?  Do you know the interpretive plan?  
    • I'll Be Seeing You - You recorded it for self-evaluations last night, and I expect everyone to be completely off the sheet music by now.  If you're not quite there, do the work to make it happen, okay?!!  No more music on the risers (except for new people) so we can all focus on unity and artistry.
    • Strive for 100% accuracy on all the songs in our repertoire.  


  • January 29
    • Leads sectional with me at 5:30 next Tuesday in the Nest.  Please be vocally prepared ahead of time.
    • At rehearsal we'll review the entire performance package, so be prepared by doing your homework and we'll make great progress.  Be sure to bring your recorders to the risers so you can get the most current interpretive plan for all the songs. We have just a few rehearsals left before our Canby gig (Jan 29, Feb 5, 9, 10, and 12) and we need ALL your voices/bodies present each week to work on the presentation so it's top-notch entertainment!  
      • Happy Together - light choreography and staging
      • Sister Act 
      • Fun In Just One Lifetime - split chorus
      • All the Things You Are
      • Go Tell it on the Mountain - some staging, in sections
      • Sweet Dreams - staging and limited choreography
      • Peace on Earth
      • And So it Goes - some staging
      • I'll Be Seeing You - totally memorized!
      • After I'm Gone - choreography
  • February 5 - Bass sectional with me in the Nest at 5:30.
  • February 9-10 - Coaching weekend with Tori Postma!! I'll post the schedule on a Kathy's Korner soon.  I'm expecting EVERY singer there to absorb all the wonderful things she'll bring to us!  You definitely won't want to miss it, and we'll work mostly on the two contest songs, but will also have some time to work on a few other songs in our 2/16 performance package.   
  • We have several members who have not had the pleasure of working with an outside coach, and there is a bit of etiquette when it comes to coaches, such as:
    • Avoid talking on the risers.  We are paying the coach a fee and we want to maximize our time with her.  Also, the talking is a distraction to what she (or I) want to work on.  If someone talks to you, just smile and point to the person in front (the coach or me or whoever is talking), and keep focused.  
    • Allow the coach the relax and unwind during lunch break.  Try not to bombard her with comments/questions.
    • If you do have a question during the coaching session, wait and see if it's answered later. I know that some of you ask a question because you want others to know something (you're so thoughtful).
    • If you don't agree with something the coach says/does, please keep your thoughts private.  
    • When changes are made, try your best to do them (no complaining or whining).  After the coaching sessions are over, I'll make a decision on what changes we do/do not incorporate.  
  • February 12 through contest (early May) we'll be rehearsing from 6:30-9:30 each week.