As we are whisking through August and rapidly heading to September, the preparations/meetings/rehearsals really start to increase, and especially with the songs the three of us will sing together – duets and trios. It occurred to me that it would be interesting to talk about the challenges that come with singing a song with other people
The three of us are classically trained (actually all with the same teacher, which is how we met) and we all sing with other choirs and groups. We are all used to singing in harmony – that is when you are all singing a different line of music that harmonises into one, hopefully, pleasing sound.
Singing in harmony is really hard to do. When you get it right it sounds great, but get it wrong by a slight error in tuning and it can go wrong very quickly, even in a choir when you have a whole section singing the same as you. Coming in at the right place, on the right note, with the right rhythm when others around you are doing something different? Not easy.
Singing one to a part, as you can imagine is even harder.
Both my friends are mezzo sopranos and I am a soprano so I am extremely lucky as I am usually singing the top line, which is quite often the melody of a song I am already familiar with. However, it is also the line that is quite often heard most clearly so if you make a mistake, it is very obvious.
Then you come to the actual performing of a piece. When you sing a solo it is scary because it is usually just you and your accompanist. However, if you have a good accompanist, they can really cover your mistakes for you. If you come in at the wrong time, they will ‘pleat’ the music and just follow you. They will bash out notes helpfully to get you back on track if you have gone a bit wayward. When you are singing with others you obviously cannot just go ‘off piste’ like that – well, you can but that is a pretty good way to bring the whole thing down around your, and everyone else’s ears.
When you sing together you need to be ‘in’ the song together – telling the story and communicating with each other. You need to sing quieter and louder and not always at the same time. As with instruments, sometimes you need to be quieter because someone else has a more interesting line. If you are singing as the same time, you need to come off the note together. You are performing together and so you need to be a cohesive unit and much of our work together is working on that.
Those are the challenges, and there are many, but the rewards? Here are just a few.
Meeting up and discussing the music and how to present a song.
Laughing at your mistakes, getting the giggles and not being able to sing a note
Rehearsing together with people who have the same goals as you and the same work ethic and attitude to give the best performance you can.
Support and encouragement from people who really are in this with you.
At last but not least, that amazing feeling when everything is right and you look at your fellow singers and you smile with absolute joy because THIS is what it is all about.
This is the third post about preparations for a concert I am singing in with two friends at the end of September. If you would like to read the other posts, they are logically titled Concert preparations part one and Concert preparations part two.