Tag Archives: choirs

A re-post from 2009


1st Posted on 25 Apr 2009 | Tagged as: blog

 April 25, 2009

Last year in July, I started on the karaoke available here on My Space.
I did the ten free songs. One I re-did.  I’ve gotten some nice compliments and some more critical too. But as I wrote on July 11, 08, this is for fun not to try to impress anyone. I’ll probably pay for a year when I can afford to and try some more.
And singing can be fun.
The computer I now have actually plays the recordings so I can listen to other great singers and even some not so great. But like I said then if you’ve got the guts to try, that says a lot.
I hate auditions. Let me explain. Once I did an audition for a college group. I passed the first one and then for the second one I changed songs. A mistake I’m sure. I didn’t really like the rules of the group.  And even though the group represented the university, students were the judges. They were kind but the audience, mostly the girls would have stoned me I’m sure had rocks been available. I didn’t get in but lost no tears over it.
Still I dislike auditions as generally the director of, say a play, picks who he or she wants or thinks will fit the part. I know this having been a director myself..
At another college audition, a non-singer got a singing part because the director had promised him a part. The funny thing about that was that at the performance time many of the fine singers had the flu and sounded worse than the non-singer did. But the play’s several showings went well anyway inspite of some less than perfect warbling.
Fast forward to 2009, I was very impressed with Susan Boyle and Paul Potts on Britains’s Got Talent. They both proved what I’ve always said: “Many of the best singers, male and female, and actors and actresses will never get the chance to be known by the world.” Its great that they got their chance.
Also on that series, a trio of young girls (Soul something or other) started but were stopped by the judges who exclaimed that they were very bad. And they did this in a less than kind fashion. The one girl admitted that they were perhaps bad but that their rude handling by the judges was not right. I agree. I think that it would take a lot of courage to go onto a TV broadcast and before an audience of 4000.  This should have at least brought an acknowledgement of their bravery if nothing else.
The girl had another good point, Wouldn’t it be great if the judges there or in any such thing, performed something to show that they had a right to judge?
I’ve been to karaoke nights where when things are slow or not very good, the DJ will do a song or two to demonstrate how it can be done. They are always very good but of course they do have an advantage having heard the arrangement and practiced before showing up that night, where the audience members have no clue what is even available before that evening.
A member of the Master Singers, a male chorus I belong to, and his wife stopped me at the Boy Scout Expo this morning to ask why I was missing practices. I’ve been busy with Lincoln Shows and my own storytelling-singing shows. Sunday we are to sing in a Church service. Not having practiced, I’ll not go.
I have been invited to join the Southern Utah Heritage Choir by two of its members. That’s twice in a week. They go to Singapore in October to sing. It would be fun. But what with dues, travel costs and lost wages,etc.(I can sing in the church choir for free).

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An Updated “Is Singing Therapeutic?”

On 7/26/2013 I wrote a post titled “Is Singing Therapeutic?”

Today I was doing a search to see where I ranked and found my post fourth from the top.

The top link was to an article written 10 days earlier than mine on the same basic subject.

It was written by one Stacy Horn about group singing changing the brain for the better,

It was so well written and to the point that I’m going to quote it here.

Singing Changes Your Brain
Group singing has been scientifically proven to lower stress, relieve anxiety, and elevate endorphins

By Stacy Horn @StacyHornAug. 16, 2013

When you sing, musical vibrations move through you, altering your physical and emotional landscape. Group singing, for those who have done it, is the most exhilarating and transformative of all. It takes something incredibly intimate, a sound that begins inside you, shares it with a roomful of people and it comes back as something even more thrilling: harmony. So it’s not surprising that group singing is on the rise. According to Chorus America, 32.5 million adults sing in choirs, up by almost 10 million over the past six years. Many people think of church music when you bring up group singing, but there are over 270,000 choruses across the country and they include gospel groups to show choirs like the ones depicted in Glee to strictly amateur groups like Choir! Choir! Choir! singing David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold the World.

As the popularity of group singing grows, science has been hard at work trying to explain why it has such a calming yet energizing effect on people. What researchers are beginning to discover is that singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits.

The elation may come from endorphins, a hormone released by singing, which is associated with feelings of pleasure. Or it might be from oxytocin, another hormone released during singing, which has been found to alleviate anxiety and stress. Oxytocin also enhances feelings of trust and bonding, which may explain why still more studies have found that singing lessens feelings of depression and loneliness. A very recent study even attempts to make the case that “music evolved as a tool of social living,” and that the pleasure that comes from singing together is our evolutionary reward for coming together cooperatively, instead of hiding alone, every cave-dweller for him or herself.

The benefits of singing regularly seem to be cumulative. In one study, singers were found to have lower levels of cortisol, indicating lower stress. A very preliminary investigation suggesting that our heart rates may sync up during group singing could also explain why singing together sometimes feels like a guided group meditation. Study after study has found that singing relieves anxiety and contributes to quality of life. Dr. Julene K. Johnson, a researcher who has focused on older singers, recently began a five year study to examine group singing as an affordable method to improve the health and well-being of older adults.

It turns out you don’t even have to be a good singer to reap the rewards. According to one 2005 study, group singing “can produce satisfying and therapeutic sensations even when the sound produced by the vocal instrument is of mediocre quality.” Singing groups vary from casual affairs where no audition is necessary to serious, committed professional or avocational choirs like the Los Angeles Master Chorale or my chorus in New York City, which I joined when I was 26 and depressed, all based on a single memory of singing in a choir at Christmas, an experience so euphoric I never forgot it.

If you want to find a singing group to join, ChoirPlace and ChoralNet are good places to begin, or more local sites like the New York Choral Consortium, which has links to the Vocal Area Network and other sites, or the Greater Boston Choral Consortium. But if you can’t find one at any of these sites, you can always google “choir” or “choral society” and your city or town to find more. Group singing is cheaper than therapy, healthier than drinking, and certainly more fun than working out. It is the one thing in life where feeling better is pretty much guaranteed. Even if you walked into rehearsal exhausted and depressed, by the end of the night you’ll walk out high as a kite on endorphins and good will.

Stacy Horn
Stacy Horn @StacyHorn”

Thanks Stacy, that was very informative.

She said it better than I could.

So get to singing!

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Singing can change our Lives

In the middle of town, along the sycamore lined streets of Santa Clara, Utah, across from the town’s Heritage Square and an LDS church house, is an old house that is home to a singing voice studio- The Stage Door. The owner is a young man named Brodie Perry. Brodie is a singer and a popular singing coach.
Can he sing?
Well, in my opinion if you take a Andrea Bocelli, Josh Grobin, Michael Buble, and any number of other contemporary vocalists and roll them all into one, you’ll have Brodie Perry. He’s that good.
He said that singing has taken him from a not so good person to a good one.
He has a young family, is a church choir and Culural Arts director,runs a successful voice coaching business.
I recently visited his studio, arrriving to find him at a computer, having just finished a lesson with a student in Greece. We spoke for 5 minutes or so before his next student, a young man, arrived.
I’d gone to see Brodie to ask if he’d guest blog for me.
“I usually get paid to do that sort of thing,” he said.
And he didn’t need any advertising of his services. So I left.
But a week or so later, he spoke at a fireside chat. (No one has a fire anymore but speeches given in the evening are still called fireside chats or just firsides.) I of course took notes.
The following are some of the highlights. I think you can learn much about your musical journey by learning about the journey of others. So here goes.
Brodie started life in San Fransico area of California. He didn’t sing but at age 13, to be close to a girl he liked, he joined the school choir. At 15 his parents moved from Concord, Ca to St. George, Utah. He was bitter over the move, having been torn from friends in school.
Upon arriving in the new high school (Pineview) he enrolled in choir under the tutlage of director Norman Lister. Norm has touched many lives. (I just saw him on the 4th at the celebrations in St. George where he was judging a singing competition.)
Norm said Brodie had an animated delivery. Brodie got in a quartet with “an easy song.” After they sang, the teacher asked Brodie, “Can you be here at 7 am?” He was asked to join the Madrigal Singers.
But at this time in Brodie’s life he lived for sports and girls, being on the football and baseball teams. However Norm Lister “opened my eyes to all kinds of music” “especially classical”.
He did choral and solo work.
After one solo, it was commented, “I didn’t know you were an opera singer.”
Mozart’s Don Giovanni and “all of a sudden I was swept into a classical world… a new world of opera.’
At this point in his remarks, he paused to sing “The Lord’s Prayer”. He gave a powerful delivery ending on a high tenor note though he is a barritone.
Back to his tale. His mother loved the singing of Johnny Mathis and 50s/60s music was big at his house.
“My teacher started working with me daily to get me to the next level.”
Norm Lister gives his students and community singing groups the opportunity to travel to New York City and to sing at Carnegie Hall. Brodie relates, “We got the opportunity to sing at Carnegie Hall”.
But before that happened, Opera singer Michael Ballum performed at the St. George Tabernacle. A duet (Jesu Bambino) had been arranged but the tenor didn’t show up for some reason and Brodie was asked to fill in. At the end of the number “and I kid you not, devine intervention stepped in, it was the only explanation,” I hit “a high G”. “It soared” “I don’t know where it came from.” He obsorbed it all in during the concert. And after the concert as Michael Ballum left the front doors, he stopped turned around and came back to Brodie and said, “I’ve got to talk to you again soon”.
The next week saw the school group at Carnegie Hall. After their show, he and his friend went to the Le Mis show and then to the Whoopi Goldberg show to see if they could shake her hand.
A 11 pm they got back to their hotel, the New Yorker. A message was there with his teacher to call Michael Ballum back in Utah no matter how late. When Mr. Ballum came on the line, Brodie was taken aback to hear that a baritone had dropped out of Ballum’s Summer Opera season and “would you like to fill in?”
Brodie is 17 at this time. The job would entail 2 operas and a play for the summer at $300 a week, housing, etc. He had to learn French. “blind luck” and he was “successful”.
“That summer is where it basically all began.”
Because of that summer, he got a full scholarship to Utah State University where he continued his singing and met his wife to be. Quit smoking and drinking liqour.
Here he interrupted for another song “The Test” (“after the trial we will be blessed.”)
Then he sang another song with a girl student, Avonlee Dalley, was presented. “The Prayer”
It was just as lovely as any rendition you have ever heard of this song, being delivered in English and Italien. His last note ended a perfect song soft and high.
“Music brings people together…feel the same emotions…music proves we are the same.” -John Denver.
“Music is the great Equalizer!”
Then Brodie reviewed the film Shawshank Redemption and how music was used and taught in it and how it changed the inmates of the prison. of Red’s harmonica “something inside they can’t get to you. It’s yours!” “those moments you’ll never ever forget.”
He quoted Stephen King on music. “I love music-all kinds…it gives me ideas-things I’d never think of.” Of the music score it “simply insisted on being in the movie”. And he wrote it while listening to the “Marriage of Figaro”.
“We, as musicians, are in the position to touch the souls of those who listen.” Spencer W. Kimball himself a piano player who one had a band.
Then Brodie sang the song “Consider the Lillies”
“I have way to much stuff to talk about,” he said afterwards.
He told of his singing experiences in Las Vegas and St. George Musical Theater and elsewhere.
“Music may influence more that speakers can.”-Boyd Packer
He sang one last song, a song written by Utah pioneer John Taylor, “Oh give me back my prophet dear”.
Brodie finished with a quote from Oliver Wendel Holmes,  “Alas for those who never sing but die with their songs unsung.”

Thanks to Brodie on great perspectives on singing and the power of it on our lives as on his.
Catch you next time.

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