Diary of a Barbershop Singer
Contributor / 2006-03-13 14:22:26
The seventh week of the Torrevieja Barbershop Harmonisers ten week singing in harmony course had now taken place and here is Rob Serle's third episode of his experiences and apprehensions from weeks five, six and seven.
"This week Graham Lewis took over from Chas to explain in some detail the body and how it relates to singing, maths last week biology this. If I'd wanted a GCSE I would have gone back to school! Anyway I now appreciate the relationship of throat, nasal cavity, chest cavity and vocal chords. It made sense that singing was a 'whole body experience' and not just opening the throat and letting the sound out. We have been told of the need to drink ample water each morning and I guess that's why there is a steady procession to the gents each Tuesday morning.
We were told to stand correctly, have good mouth shapes with 'no coat hanger singing'. If you take a wire one and bend it down at each end you'll get the idea!
With the classroom work over we then returned to singing and I was relieved to be told the hard work is over. The fog clears a little when Chas explains, "We are not individual singers we are part of a team." Individually we don't sound very good especially according to her indoors but together it does sound pretty fair. So I guess we won't be getting any solos."
"Over halfway through the course and not unexpectedly routine is the order of the day. Breathing exercises, posture and all the stuff we have learnt and practised each week as well as funny little voice exercises fr.fr.fr. bl.bl.bl. curl your tongue up curl it down. My 60 year-old tongue struggles to learn new tricks!
Today's highlight comes and we all line up on the stage in tiers, exciting! But strangely enough we sing better up there, probably because we're all bunched together and feel a little bit like the real thing. Is this just a treat by Chas to keep us all motivated?
We learn of vowel sounds, apparently there are 16 in the English language. No wonder I don't speak propa! The 16 vowel sounds are based on the 5 basic sounds and we are told vowel sounds are as important as the notes. Chas had us singing using vowels only to emphasise their importance. Say a few words using the vowels only and you will see how hard it is.
I had thought Chas's patience was infinite but he is human after all. He nearly lost it today "too much talking in the ranks" he said whilst he's trying to make a point. He's tired!
There is talk of what will happen when this course is finished. The general consensus including mine is that, "I'll stay if they will have me" and Chas's reaction to this is if you are here, you are good enough. So if this is the case the Harmonisers could be about to double in size. Although we are warned that singing in the Harmonisers is hard work.
Geoff standing next to me quipped, "Well the last 6 weeks has not exactly been a stroll in the park!"
"Chas's introduction this week is that he feels we are in a rut! So before we get into our craft exercises we are put into formation, the position we would be in for a concert and this is how we will sit in future rehearsals. I'm between Rob and a German chap named Friendle and I feel lucky as he is an experienced Harmoniser. He should keep me straight, although I may now be singing with a slight accent! There's a discussion about uniform for the concert, and it's agreed we'll all subscribe to a bow tie.
Then its more theory, dip thongs, soft and hard pallets, and did you know that a little 's' goes a long way!
We have each been given a questionnaire called, 'What next?' asking for comments about the course and would we like to join the harmonisers and I ticked yes, I would like to join, as it would appear so do most of us. Then I wonder what the original group thinks. There were usually about 20 in the group for Concerts now there is potentially 60. They have grown from a friendly small group all knowing each other very well, performing in small venues and bars to a friendly large group with a lot of names still to put to faces. The sound will now be bigger and will require bigger venues.
I wonder how big is the Albert Hall?
Still a happy singer Rob Serle.
For further information on the Torrevieja Barbershop Harmonizers please ring 966 717 262 or 965 416 494, e-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their web site www.torreviejaharmonisers.net