|The festive sing out season has well and truly begun for us here at More Harmony, with three performances already under our belt and many more to go!|
On Saturday 18th November, we had an exceptionally busy start to our Christmas schedule, starting with a performance at the beautiful St. Petroc's Church in Bodmin, where they were holding a Christmas fair. We've been lucky enough to sing at the church before and it really is a lovely setting. After a half hour set, we barely had time to straighten our scarves before we were off to the stunning Pencarrow House, to give two more half hour performances! This time, we were singing outdoors, so our gorgeous - and much commented on - purple Christmas capes had their first outing of the season.
Between sets, we had the opportunity to browse Pencarrow's annual Artisan Christmas Fair and try some of the wonderful food and drink stalls. More Harmony have always been a close bunch and it was really lovely to enjoy a bit of time together, sipping coffee and putting the world to rights! There was even some chatter about what songs to include in 2024's repertoire, and with our music team meeting fast approaching, we'll have some updates on what was chosen very soon!
During our final set, the rain began to pour, so we cut a song and made a slightly early exit - we have too many upcoming performances to lose anyone to illness, after all! Still, we had a great time at both events and would like to thank the organisers for inviting us and making us so welcome.
Our remaining performance dates can be found right here on this page, so if you're looking to get into the festive spirit, why not pop along to one of these events and check us out?! This time of year is really special to us and we hugely enjoy sprinkling a little extra Christmas magic for everyone listening. Believe it or not, it's never too early to be thinking about Christmas 2024, so if you're hosting an event next year and you're looking for musical entertainment, drop us a line and we'll put you in the diary! You'd be amazed how quickly it fills up...
With just three rehearsals left until we break up for our Christmas social and festive break, there's not long left to get your foot in the door, this year. We are, however, always open to new singers, so if you're looking for a fun hobby and a great way to make new friends, do feel free to drop into a rehearsal between now and December 7th (our last rehearsal of the year) and see what a cappella singing is all about. We can promise you a very warm welcome and a cuppa - we may even throw in a biscuit to sweeten the deal!
We'll be back with more news next month, but until then, we very much hope to see some of you at our upcoming sing outs!
|More Harmony are on the hunt for new singers! This means we're about to hear one common phrase a lot:|
"Oh, I'd love to join, but I can't sing!"
With very few exceptions, pretty much anyone can sing. Whilst people are often guilty of referring to themselves as "tone deaf," in reality, only around 1.5% of the world's population suffer from a disorder called congenital amusia, which prevents them from hearing a difference in pitch, tone, and rhythm. That leaves a whopping 98.5% of us across the globe who can most definitely sing!
Singing is a skill like any other and can be learned. In fact, singing is more accessible than many other skills, because the majority of us already have the componants we need to sing well, whether we realise it or not. It's simply a case of learning how to use the equipment we were born with in order to create the best possible sound for ourselves.
Over the years, we've had members of More Harmony say things like:
"None of my friends can believe I'm in a choir!"
"I was always told I had a rubbish voice."
So, how did those members go from hiding their lights under a bushel to blasting out songs with us?!
Put Those Doubts Aside...
The very first thing you need to do if you want to learn to sing is silence the nagging doubts in your own mind. Whether you're still clinging on to the time a school music teacher told you you sounded flat, or being overwhelmed with nerves at the thought of singing in front of other people, it is entirely normal to feel a bit vulnerable - after all, joining a choir often means walking into a room full of people who already know each other and feeling like the new kid at school - but if you're determined to learn to sing, then this is the vital first step!
Your Comfortable Vocal Range Might Not Be Where You Think It Is!When you're singing along to the radio or serenading your rubber duck in the shower, you're usually singing the actual tune of a song. This is where some people start telling themselves they can't sing - perhaps you're straining to reach those high notes, or finding that you sound flat against the main melody.
One of the first things our Musical Director does with potential new members is a voice test. We promise, that is not anything to panic about and you won't be singing in front of anyone but her! She'll literally just have you sing back a few notes she'll play for you, or get you to sing a familiar song like Happy Birthday to see where you pitch it, before placing you in the section that best suits your vocal range. Where you end up might come as a surprise...
We've had people come through our doors telling us they struggle to sing along to the radio and don't know why, only for them to realise they've got a beautifully rich bass voice that had never been discovered, because they were too busy straining themselves to try to hit the high notes! The opposite is also true - I have a good friend who always believed she had a low voice and couldn't understand why she always sounded "wrong" when she sang along to her favourite songs. When she joined a choir, her MD instantly realised she was a soprano and there was no looking back after that point - everything just clicked into place!
Your singing voice tends to be higher than your speaking voice, but our voices tend to drop lower as we get older. So put simply, you might not know where your vocal range naturally sits until you've been placed in a section (for us, it goes from bass at the bottom, then up to baritone, lead and tenor at the top), and you may well find that as soon as you're singing at a different pitch to the one you're used to, it all comes much more naturally!
It's A PHYSICAL Thing!Every rehearsal begins with a physical and vocal warm up. That's because singing is, believe it or not, a form of exercise and one you need to limber up for! Any tension in your body will impact on your singing, so we ensure that we loosen ourselves up and are ready for action.
Our warm ups always include breathing exercises. Without getting too bogged down in the technical details, strengthening your diaphragm is essential to learning to sing well, as is working on your lung capacity (vital for those long notes!). So, if you come along to a rehearsal, you'll find that you start the evening with lots of deep, slow breathing and exercises to strengthen this part of your body. We encourage everyone to bring a bottle of water, because as the warm ups tend to prove, singing is thirsty work!
Everyone's voice is different and of course, everyone's lifestyle and background is different, so these exercises at the start of every rehearsal help to ground us all and give everyone the best chance of creating a brilliant sound. Beginning with the basics also means that there's never a wrong time to come along and join in! You'll always start in the right place. Oh, and as an aside, I'm writing this as a person who is severely asthmatic. Doing my breathing exercises every week and working on my lung capacity has had a direct effect on my physical health, so if you're worried that you might not be in good enough shape to come along and join us - don't! We have all found that being a member of chorus has given us major health benefits - both physically and mentally.
Practice Makes Perfect!As with any other skill, if you want to learn to learn to sing well, you can't just expect it to happen without putting the effort in. Can you expand your vocal range? Yes. Can you learn to hold an impressively long note? Yes. Can you do either of those things without practice? Nope!
Our chorus is, as mentioned, a hugely supportive place. Every section of the chorus has a Section Leader, whose job involves helping new singers get to grips with their part, and our Musical Director and her assistant are also always on hand to answer questions or provide support. We learn from teach tracks, so there's no need to be able to read sheet music, either. You'll be given a guest log-in for the members area of our website, where you'll find all the tracks and can listen to your heart's content, practicing along at home. We'll never expect a new singer to be note and word perfect in their first weeks - you're getting all kinds of information thrown at you and trying to catch up with songs we might have been singing for years, so please don't worry that you'll make a mistake and end up banished for all eternity! We can assure you that will never happen.
We ask the same thing of all of our members, whether they've been with us five minutes or five years: make sure you're regularly practicing at home and ensure that you listen to your Section Leader/Musical Director's advice. They will give you tips to make learning the songs easier, they will provide loads of encouragement and if there's something that needs to be fixed, they will let you know (positively and never in front of the whole chorus), so that you're getting the best results possible for yourself and the wider group. Singing in a choir is a team effort, so it's really important that we all hold up our end of the bargain and practice regularly, taking on board any feedback so that if we're a bit rusty on something one week, we've got it sussed by the next (again, new singers aren't expected to be nailing it in their first few weeks, so don't fret!).
Oh and the only other request? Enjoy yourself! Leave any nerves at the door, lose those inhibitions and allow yourself to have a flipping good time. Singing should be fun and frankly, if we have a rehearsal without laughter, something has gone wrong!
So, can anyone sing? The honest answer is YES. If you still need convincing, we'll be at Wadebridge Ambulance Hall tonight from 7:15pm. Come along and see for yourself!
If you'd like any further details, please feel free to email us or drop us a message via our Facebook page and we'll be happy to get back to you.
Our blog this month has a special guest writer! More Harmony’s Musical Director, Lesley, is here to share her reasons why you should sing in a barbershop chorus.
There are lots of singing groups out there to choose from, with a variety of musical styles and approaches to what they do. Finding a place to sing should be easy right? If you are looking for somewhere to unleash your inner diva, here are my top five reasons a barbershop chorus like More Harmony might be the perfect fit!
1. Who We Are
If you aren’t familiar with barbershop music the image that might come to mind is four men in boaters singing “Hello! Ma Baby”. They are out there, and they sound fantastic, but that isn’t the full barbershop picture. There are barbershop quartets and choruses all over the world singing songs from different decades and genres. More Harmony are a small women’s chorus - but there are men’s choruses and mixed groups out there, ranging in size from 20 to 120! This diversity means you can find a place to sing barbershop even if you aren’t ready to be fitted for a bow tie just yet.
2. How We Sing
Barbershop is a style of a cappella singing - that means we sing unaccompanied. There are unique characteristics that set it apart from other styles.
3. How We Learn
If you’re thinking “that sounds lovely but the only part of sheet music I can read are the lyrics” then don’t worry! More Harmony, like other barbershop choruses, have members with a wide range of experience. You don’t need to be able to read music at all - you get recorded tracks to learn from. If you do want to expand your knowledge then you can learn from your chorus’ Music Team or go even further by attending events for barbershoppers held all over the world!
4. Why We Do It
The number one reason given by More Harmony members was - “I love singing!” Singing is increasingly recognised for the benefits it provides to your physical and mental health. If you are want to improve your wellbeing and have fun then put singing at the top of your list. Barbershop also has room for growth. You can learn the basics quickly, but there is always something to learn or a new skill to master. If you are someone who thrives on a challenge it could be just what you need!
5. What It Gives Us
More Harmony pride ourselves on being a positive, inclusive group. We know what it’s like to feel nervous, self-conscious or just plain out of your depth! Our members are there to support and encourage each other. Singing in a chorus is a team sport where every voice counts. We work hard to improve and be the best we can be for ourselves and for each other.
If you’re still not sure if barbershop is for you - the best way to decide is to come along and try it! If you’re a woman aged 16+ in North Cornwall, pop in to one of our rehearsals to say hello. We’re always happy to welcome someone new and answer questions!
More Harmony rehearses on Thursday evenings from 7.15-9.30pm at The Ambulance Hall, Fairpark Road, Wadebridge. If you’re interested in joining or booking us to perform, you can get more details from our website www.moreharmony.co.uk or by emailing us email@example.com