HU2015: Part 1

directing, bbs

Wednesday night in Nashville: halfway done with Harmony University 2015. This year I’m back as a director, having attended for coaching with my quartet Constellation last year.


Vocal pedagogy for music leaders (Steve Scott)

So far, this has mostly been a review of acoustics and anatomy of the vocal tract, although there have been several interesting points that were new (or valuable reminders) for me:

Good info so far.

You should see what you sound like! (Cindy Hansen-Ellis)

All about ensemble image and branding. This is similar to the first course I took with Cindy, a few years back.

Today’s highlight was a presentation from Matt Gifford and Will Hunkin of the Musical Island Boys, about their quartet’s process of establishing their image, brand, and repertoire, from 2000 (when they were still in HS) to the present. They’ve done well.

Key takeaways:

None of this sounds like rocket science, but it requires attention to subtle details and, fundamentally, honest self-examination.

History of barbershop II (David Wright)

I really enjoy listening to David Wright’s lectures. He’s put together slides to cover the early history of barbershop (in the prereq course) and the history from the 1950s to present, and done several things right that a lot of lecturers wouldn’t:

This doesn’t lend itself as well to a bullet list (unless I wanted to list trivia, which I don’t), but there’s at least one obvious overarching theme: The hallmarks of the style have remained consistent, although the Society went through significant changes in popular vocal style and music choices, and the judging system was, for a time, far more restrictive than it is today. (The rules even went so far as to have a list of permissible chord progressions for ending a song. Yow. I’m glad that’s changed.)

Private instruction and other fun stuff

This year the schedule’s a lot more relaxed, and I like that. The morning classes are a lot shorter, and instead of cramming so much into the day, we’re simply given three scheduled classes and the option of attending additional hour-long “electives” during the lunch hours and in the evening. So far I’ve attended three:

I also have had two private instruction sessions so far:

Tomorrow, a private voice lesson with Jim DeBusman.

One last note: I’ve been studying Swedish, but haven’t yet talked with any Swedes at HU this year. There aren’t as many as in previous years. I want to learn more words relevant to vocal music. So far I have kör (choir), bas (bass), baryton (baritone), tenor (obvious), sjunger (sing), sång (song), and körledare (choir-leader). I hesitate to use this last because it’s one of several I learned from Google Translate; I’m much more comfortable using something once I’ve encountered it “in the wild”.

All in all, a fine week so far.