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Watch, Listen and Learn

Appropriately on Halloween, we had a scary rehearsal with the shock of going through the whole of Act One; songs we haven’t sung together for some time! Needless to say, some were frightful!

It did highlight elements we need to work on:

WATCH – look up from your music and watch Elliot (sound familiar from Eamonn’s rehearsals?)

It is so important to have crisp, clean endings

Knowing when your particular part starts and ends, especially in complicated numbers like Eleanor Rigby

If you need to crescendo or decrescendo

Singing softly, loudly or in between.

Keeping the correct tempo and only slow down when directed.

LISTEN – by now you all know which notes to sing, however it is essential to:

Listen to the other voices in the choir and know where your part fits into the piece.

Do not carry on singing regardless. We are a choir and sing in harmony.

This is a collective responsibility.

When practising at home, listen to another voice part in Dropbox and sing with that to hear how your voice blends and interacts

LEARN – as you practise at home, learn the words.

It doesn’t have to be word perfect, but it will give you confidence to look up from your music, especially at the critical times, and watch Elliot who is directing us.

This will so important in songs like The Parting Glass with no accompanying music which exposes us. This is a brave choice of ending Act One and we want to get it right to ensure our audience returns for Act Two!

Learn to tell the story of the songs in your own way, but still blending your voice and timing with the rest of the choir. If you feel the music and the story this will come across to the audience.

Now here are some pointers for the songs in Act One

Generally, the Tenors and Basses are too slow and always slightly behind the beat. They know the right notes, they just need to get them in the right tempo. They need to sense the beat and they will be fine.

This is essential in songs like The Rainbow Connection that starts the concert.

Vincent needs the tenors/basses to be ready to come in confidently on ‘Starry, starry night’.

Feel the beat and watch Elliot who’s conducting will be encouraging.

Sops and Altos DO NOT Ohh first time round!

When you do ‘Oooh’ keep it bright to stop the note going flat.

DO NOT slow down at the end. Just keep it matter of fact with the same timing.

The Parting Glass is a MUST WATCH. Sung acapella there is nowhere to hide. The dynamics of the second verse are different to the first. It is a simple song, so learn the words and you can watch the directions. Your folder will be just under your nose if you do need it.

What’ll I Do needed the most work. If the Altos come in strongly on their Dm, the Sops will follow off the beat with their ‘Dm’ remembering that the second part is on the beat.

The Tenors/Basses have the words to sing, so they need to feel the beat on this.

The ending is in a different tempo, so watch Elliot and finish cleanly on the last Ooh.

The Rainbow Connection where the key change comes, slow down on ‘Magic’ with the key change on the ‘gic’. DO NOT SLIDE! Then Sops, Tenors/Basses come in strongly on ‘Have you been half asleep’

There is no slowing down at the end. Keep the ‘La di dahs’ at the end carefree.

Eleanor Rigby has each voice part coming at different times, so be aware of when your entrance is as sometimes the Tenors lead in, sometimes the altos and then the sops. Watch Elliot and he will give you your entrances. If you get it wrong (only in rehearsals, of course,) listen to the other parts and correct yourself, don’t just carry on regardless!

Autumn Leaves was in fairly good shape, and was just lacking the storytelling.

Happy Together has us all singing at the same time, but somehow the Tenor/Basses found a way to sing at a different speed! Listen to those around you.

As we go into the chorus the ‘together’ needs somewhere to go so start the crescendo earlier in the word and build it up to the end.

It is long and repetitive, so find the motivation and desire to sing it again! Make the Bah, bahs’ playful.

Lean on Me – Tenors/basses feel where the note is. When Altos sing ‘tomorrow’ their last note is the Tenors next note.

Tenors keep ‘I just might’ on the beat.

Mr Blue Sky – on the bridge on page 8 ‘I’ll remember you’ Altos and Basses get back into the chorus confidently.

Make the ‘Do dos’ playful.

Next week we will go through Act Two, which should be fairly fresh in our minds.

Remember we are in the Artisan Clubhouse next week. Please be there and bring your music and patience as we only have four weeks left before we sing with our pianist, freeing Elliot up to direct us.

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