Nashville Day 8: The Saga Concludes

 Hung out in the airport all day. If that sounds bad to you, you are not a barbershopper. At gate C14 the crowd waiting to get back to Ottawa sang a bunch of General session charts, (quietly, respectful of the non barbershoppers around us.) We gathered a crowd of listeners and drew barbershoppers away from other gates. At the end of the impromptu concert I told the audience about www.barbershop.org so they could find a chapter near them. Then we were approached by a guy who wanted to videotape us and share it with his business clients, an email list of over two thousand. So we sang Love Me the best we could and promoted the BHS website and the Capital City Chorus.
Through the afternoon I ran into clusters of barbershoppers looking for a lead or a bass, etc. and we sang a few polecats (barbershop standards) whenever we met. A little nap at the gate and a little tension as the flight filled up. But the agents at the gate were great and wanted to be sure we got on the plane. Whether that was to thank us for the music or to get peace and quiet, the reader can only guess. Back in Canada as I post this addendum. It's great to be a barbershopper!

Harmony U Day 7 (Saturday): Wrap up.

A very relaxed day. 
We spent some time recapping the week, both from a chorus development perspective (leadership track) and from a musical aspect. Really good feedback from the chorus. 
Then we went to the rotunda of the Law building and sang. And sang. And sang. Great spot. We got lots of recordings of chorus and Papa's Friends. 
Our tune it or die teacher, Jay Dougherty proved that humans perceive undertones. He was using an old Mac program. it was very cool. 
Sang a bunch with the quartet and then settled in for the Saturday show. And what a show: Honors Chorus, directors' chorus, Brigade chorus, next gen male chorus, and young women in harmony chorus. Great quartets including Shoptimus Prime, Master piece, the Academy, TNS, an amazing women's Quartet (they had six on stage: two singers were 'with child') they proved that women's barbershop doesn't need to generate overtones, they can just reach up and sing them directly. Seriously they had an unbelievable range and rang the chords wonderfully. Their dramatic and funny take on 'turn the radio on' was also a stellar performance. Masterpiece featured their bass on Old Man River. What a rich smooth and deep voice he has. 
The show include lunch break who did a hilarious set, including a Mad Lib version of my wild irish rose. 
Can't find the words to describe the two youth choruses. The young women had us rolling on the aisles while maintaining impeccable sound. The guys had a precision and expressiveness that most experienced chorus would give their right arm for. 
Ended the night and the week singing a tag with Shoptimus, who are really sounding great right now. Then I sang with some guys from the chorus till 1:00 am. 
Harmony U Is really worth the trip to Nashville. But plan on spending a couple extra days off you want to see Nashville itself. The days and nights are so packed with things you don't want to miss they you will not get more than a block of Belmont's beautiful campus. 
I have to plug the Sing Canada foundation. The campus was full of people old and young who were able to be there with Sing Canada grants. You can help them nurture great singing through their grant program. The community you help may be your own!

Harmony U Day 6, Friday: Putting the Package Together.

Today is show day as the Parade of Quartets showcases the quartets and choruses that have been coached at Harmony U. 
We skipped General Session to work on our choreography package with General Carlos. I've got to admit that I am very confused as to which moves are in and which are out. We're on version 3.45.6a (rev2) I think. This is normal and expected but still overwhelming. Key thing is to put overwhelmed in your back pocket and take it out again when you have time. 
I got personal coaching from the vocal techniques class singing 'All the Diamonds' by Bruce Cockburn. Key of E cause it's Friday. I remembered to keep my chin down, breathe, sustain tone to the full length of the phrase, keep the low notes light and in the same resonant space as the higher ones. I was commended on expressiveness, richness of tone and the undertones some people heard in my voice. Then the instructor taught me the value of singing one phrase with a lean toward an 'ah' vowel and the next with an 'ay' space behind every vowel. And I actually understood what he was saying. So I sang it with that in mind and it really did improve the sound even though some other technique stuff fell off the overloaded cart. Putting the whole package together is, to use a common phrase around here, like riding a unicycle while singing baritone, juggling flaming batons through a rugby scrum, while changing a baby and fending off a shark. It's a very common expression. I'm surprised you haven't heard it. 
The afternoon was more of the same at chorus level. Breathing breakthroughs, expressiveness. A very moving inspiration for our interpretation of hallelujah. Kirk actually caused me to entirely reinterpret Cohen's second verse. But everything added to the cart is causing something else to fall off. Harmony U Is the start of a journey not the end. I'm having sync problems, tuning and movement and expression problems by the score (see what I did there?). There will be much to consolidate into my normal automatic singing over the next months. I am aware of my voice and presence in aspects that I never saw before. So much to attend to and still a song that needs to be sung, a story that needs to be told. 
On Friday evening we did our part in putting on a fantastic show. I think we all felt the thousand opportunities we missed but we need to step back and look at the product we presented. I have, and it was great. And it will be even better by contest. 
I'm missing a session right now so I'm going to sign off and get overwhelmed again. What a great week.

Harmony University Day 5 (Thursday):

Today was shaping up to be just another day at Harmony U. We got the great news that Andy Young was being discharged from the hospital. We're looking forward to seeing him on Friday. The morning was uneventful. Lunch was much appreciated after missing breakfast. And I can't overstate the enjoyment of meeting amazing people at every meal. Today it was Roger Lewis a former BHS president. Someone told me who he was after lunch. Somehow it just didn't come up in conversation. 
The afternoon was just another day of the chorus bringing their A game. Yes we're tired but yes we're still drinking from the fire hose. Gary Steincamp and Brent Graham continued to help us connect phrases together and help keep the song moving forward. Gary helped us realize that we CAN combine the particular things judges want to see/hear with the goal of entertaining our audience, but that we have to think about HOW to combine both goals. 
Brent let Teresa ?? (From Nova Scotia and a top three presentation specialist in women's barbershop) teach on breathing: the urgency breath, which moves us into the next phrase, and the intimacy breath, which anticipates the emotion of the next phrase. Every breath in the song plan should serve the presentation of the song. We singers only breathe for the audience's sake. Our physical need doesn't even rate.  
The Tune It Or Die class was its ordinary mind blowing revelation about harmony: the way that every tone contains harmony within its overtones. Specifically the barbershop seventh! 
Brain overloaded with new stuff, so just another day at Harmony U, right? 
Then I met Steven Cornwell. Steven is learning a form of throat singing ( I'd say he's mastered it, but I defer to his humility. ) listen to him sing heart of my heart: http://youtu.be/5z89oEFVfr0 
Does that blow your mind? Steven is looking for three others to throat sing in four part harmony. Start practicing today. I'll be posting a clip of his instructions soon. 
The day ended, for me, with the barbershop bash -a barbeque and show with quartets and a First Timers Chorus contest. The Gold Ribbon Chorus was best, but I guess that since we already had a gold ribbon they gave first place to the Green Ribbon Chorus. They clearly needed the encouragement.
Buses took most of Harmony U To downtown Nashville for a free evening. I used my freedom to sleep. Have another listen to that throat singing.
No doubt Friday will be just another day at Harmony U.