From: Kay Bromert
Breakfast was early again, and this time Muriel and I were smart enough to get our towels exchanged at the proper time (7-8 AM), so we asked for and were given extra blankets. Tonight should be much more comfortable! I must thank Birgit Kayser, who sent me many blankets by email - "silk blanket - wool blanket - cashmere blanket - cotton blanket - plastic blanket - polyester blanket". They didn't do a thing for me physically, but they certainly "warmed" my heart! Thanks! ;-)
Opening session started with Rumors again, in long dresses again - third one we've seen in as many performances. Today's color was teal. I would guess they are using the same basic pattern on these dresses, but they are flattering and look very comfortable, which I know is a must for an active, popular quartet. They sang another song I hadn't heard - something like "Dance With You". Again it wasn't for the Kibbers - shades of Manhattan Transfer harmonies and performance. Muriel and I wonder how they can sing so well so early in the morning??
International President Kathy Carmody then introduced the regional management teams, the new administrative concept that I believe has now taken effect in all our regions. They were introduced by title: Chapter Coordinators, Communication and Technology Coordinators, Directors Coordinators, Education Coordinators, Events Corrdinators, Finance Coordinators, Marketing and Membership Coordinators, and Team Coordinators. She also informed us that we now have two brand new regions, the Netherlands Region and the Southern Cross Region from Australia. All these folks came down to the front and received their ceremonial banners from International folks. I counted 15 people from the two regions, and that's no small accomplishment, to get so many folks to come so far for this event. Pat LeVezu did our warmups and led us in singing Tuxedo Junction. It's fun to sing in this large an auditorium with 1400 other women.
Then I was off to an arranging curriculum class, How Arrangements and the Music Category are Related. It was taught by June Berg, CMA, and it was very interesting, because we took an existing published arrangement and analyzed it. We divided into groups and each one took a topic: melody, harmonies, lyrics, predominance of barbershop 7th and 9th chords, form, and voicings.We were to look for both problem spots that might make the arrangement hard to sing, and good solutions where the arranger had done skillful things that would enhance the performance. I thought it was really interesting to hear the class's comments, because there were music judges in there too, as well as the Certified arrangers. I learned a lot just listening to things they found as they looked through the piece. For you budding arrangers out there, I think it's a very useful tool to take an existing arrangement and analyze it. Next was a One-on-One, which is the name for a class where an Approved Arranger (or a Trainee if that be the case) gets to sit down privately with a Certified Arranger, so the CMA can play through some of the AMA's arrangements and critique them. I was assigned to Norma Andersen, whose original song/arrangement of "Kiss Me One More Time" is the best barbershop ballad ever written, in the humble opinion of the lyricist and die-hard Harmonet lurker who lives at my house. He doesn't think he's been to a real competition unless he hears that song. But I digress....Norma played through my required arrangement (TMA's and AMA's are required to arrange the same song once a year, then it is evaluated and used among other things for your own personal growth) and was very complimentary. I was pleased, because her opinion means a lot to me. She also went through another arrangement and looked at several others more or less in passing - time is a constraint, of course. We also talked computers, since we communicate by email regularly. These private times are the best opportunity for arrangers to develop and grow, because everything is brought to a personal level, and it can only lead to our being better and better. That means more good music for many of you to sing.
Region 20, my region, had planned on a group picture before lunch, which we did do, then after lunch I went to see AMA Jean Flinn, who is giving a daily demonstration over lunch hour on Finale. Jean is known as the Guru of Finale, so it was fun to sit in and see what all the program could do. If I were buying a program today, that's what I would buy. However, I am using Nightingale on the Mac, and I'm very happy with it. A year ago the Mac moved out of my home office and into our family room when I moved to a PC out of necessity for work. Now the Lurker himself can read the Harmonet, surf the net, and do his own computer work without interference from me. This had the added advantage of getting my arranging out of my office, because too often I found that when I sat down to arrange, next thing I knew, I was working. All too easy to do that. So if I bought Finale for my PC, which is considerable faster than the three-year-old Mac, I would be moving the arranging back into the office, which is something I just don't want to do at this point. So I passed on a terrific price here at the Symposium. But if anyone out there is considering buying a program, I would highly recommend Finale.
The first afternoon session was Vocal Production C: Phonation, Resonation, Intervals, taught by Åse Hagerman, who directs the 120-voice Sun Light Chapter in Sollentuna, Sweden. She is a voice instructor and gave us some wonderful exercises to help us get better at producing an open, relaxed, resonant sound. She is a highly entertaining teacher as well, so it was really a fun class that ended much too soon. Next was a PVI, or Personal Vocal Instruction, where three members are assigned to one faculty member for what is really a 25-minute assessment of your own voice and what you can work on to make it better. One of the three ladies in my group had a bad cold and opted out, so that left two of us to share Shirley Kout, another vocal instructor, who directs Mission Valley Chapter (competing in Atlanta - go, Shirley and gang!). The two of us agreed to watch each other's session, so not only did I learn about my own voice, I learned from watching Shirley work. She was wonderfully patient and put us right at ease, and she was encouraging as we struggled to do what she asked. It was very enjoyable, and helped me to realize the value of PVI's to develop the individual voices. As individual chorus members improve, the chorus as a whole can't help but get better. Thanks for an excellent session, Shirley!
Dinner was next on the agenda, and I was able to hook up with Alice Silva, a Netter from Honolulu who is also in the Arrange By Mail program that I coordinate for our region. She has been working faithfully for some time and has just completed lesson 7 of our 10 lessons. It was such fun to meet her in person and have dinner with her, because so many of the students are names on a paper. I appreciate getting to know the individuals because that helps me do a more effective job of helping them grow. And now we're off to the Rising Star contest in about an hour. Look for that report later tonight. Tickets are avilable at the door of Laurie Auditorium, here on the campus of Trinity University, for that show at 8:00 PM tonight and also for our Symposium finale show Saturday night, which is in the same location, also at 8:00 PM. Hard to believe that tomorrow is the last day of classes already.