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IES SATURDAY
1999

From: Kay Bromert

Hi everyone,
Typically for a Sweet Adeline affair like this, by about now we are all wishing that one of the scheduled classes would be "Nap 101"! The nights get shorter as we go along, it seems. I have a feeling a lot of folks will be sleeping on the planes come tomorrow.

Rumors started the sessions again this morning. Today's long dress was red - same style, although I wondered if bass Peggy Barnes had gotten a petite by mistake, because her dress was several inches shorter than the others. But that didn't make a difference in their singing. Today they sang "It Is Well With My Soul", beautifully done with a tenor melody. They got a standing ovation when they finished. Perhaps we all enjoyed hearing something more in the Kibber style. They haven't given us a good old barbershop song yet. Hopefully we'll hear some of that on the show tonight.

Kathy Carmody presented pins to those folks who are here this week and have advanced in the various international programs, mainly judges I believe. Lynnell Diamond directed us in "You're the Spirit of Sweet Adelines", a song which she wrote, arranged, and lovingly gave to the organization. It will now be replacing "Here's To the Winners" at International, so order your published version for $.80 per copy from headquarters so your chorus members are up to speed when you get to Atlanta. It's a beautiful song. Lynnell is such a gifted composer/arranger. Kathy also directed us in Blue Skies, which we are all enjoying.

Then it was off to classes, and I just know you will all be thrilled to hear about the arrangers' classes for today. We had two, back to back, both taught by June Berg, a Certified Music Arranger (CMA): Chord Progression - Implied Harmony, and Translating the Sheet Music. June is a very knowledgeable music theorist, but she is aware that many of our arrangers struggle with the classical study of harmonic progression. So she creatively came up with a new way to present it. She had taken posters about 9" x 12". Some had the letter names of the chromatic scale, C, C#/Db, D, etc, one letter per poster, and some had the numbers of the scale tones, ie, I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii° (now don't worry if you don't understand why some of those are capital letters and some are small - that's not important to my story here, tho it's VERY important to music theory!). Each card was given out to someone, tho there were more of us than cards, which was OK. Someone has to be the audience, after all. First she had all the letters stand up and get in line so we could see the chromatic scale beginning with C. Then she had the numbers come up and stand behind the appropriate letter for the key of C. So the person with the I stood behind the C, the person with the ii stood behind the D, and so on. So far so good. Next she had the people with the letters for the Eb scale come up, since a lot of Sweet Adeline music ends up being arranged in Eb. Then the number people came back up and stood behind the scale. From here, suffice it to say that it developed into slight pandemonium as she rearranged them into the circle of 5ths (known by some arrangers as clock, but in classical music it's Bach's circle of 5ths) to show harmonic progression, then into intervals of 3rds, since that's how our chords are built, by stacking thirds. All this was further complicated by being in a room that was not conducive to using our keyboards and headsets and which was much too small for what we were doing. We dissolved in gales of laughter many times, and poor sweet June was sure we were all on another planet! One of the funniest things was a certain CMA, who was holding the "G" chord. June asked for the people to raise their hands if their note was included in various chords (the idea was to show the relationship between relative major and relative minor chords). It went along pretty well until she asked for the G minor chord. Everyone who had one of those notes raised her hand, except Barb (oops, wasn't going to mention the name!). It was too funny as we could see the thought process on her face. She was mentally figuring out the parts of a G minor, and lo and behold, she discovered that G is included, so up went her hand! By now June had lost complete control, as we laughed so hard the tears were flowing. Well, that's OK - laughter is good for the soul, isn't it? And after all, we better have fun at what we're doing. Apologies to Barb, but she was a very good sport about it all. (She's one of my favorite folks, btw, a very neat lady.) It was a very visual way to present the chord progression, which is something I already understand because of my degree in music. But I think it was helpful to the ones who have arranged more by ear and were needing to do more with the classical style.

At the break we had to change rooms, a real nuisance except that we then went to a room that had chairs with arms, at least somewhat helpful as a place to put our keyboards and work. So June then had us do the exercises we would have done in the first session. All this meant that we didn't get all the way through her curriculum for the second class, but fortunately it was included in the scripts we had in our packets, and she explained to us what she had planned for us to do with that set of exercises. We can then work on it at home. I have a feeling that June breathed a huge sigh of relief when the morning came to an end! She probably never wants to see any of us rowdies again, and I'm sure this was unlike any theory class she has ever taught before. ;-)

After lunch, I had a Vocal Production E: Articulation class with Betty Clipman, which was very interesting. She had us up and down doing various types of exercises designed to help us relax the jaw and keep the tongue flexible. Fun stuff and very necessary to good singing. The last class was How To Teach What You Know, taught by Charlie Metzger of SPEBSQSA. If I understand correctly, this has been taught at the COTS schools and Harmony College for the men. It was very interesting, as he went into various learning styles that people have. About 60 - 70% of people are visual learners, 20 - 30% are kinesthetic (touch), and 10% are auditory. Everyone has all three styles inside, but there is usually one dominant style. Teachers hopefully realize that classrooms contain all 3 styles, so they must present material in all 3 ways in order to reach everyone (it's one of the things that makes teaching a real art form in my book). Charlie related this to directors (apparently I had stumbled into the director track again), and he gave very interesting examples of each style and how directors needed to be aware of their own style and how they handled things with their choruses. There was much too much marerial to be covered completely in the 75 minutes we were allotted, but we have a thick handout with a lot of information that I am looking forward to reading.

Dinner followed, and now we will soon be off for the closing show. I will post separately for that, although as I write this, the post for the Rising Stars contest isn't up on the Harmonet yet. Nothing has been there all day, and I got a message saying that the BBShop list was being held, and my mail would be sent when the list was released. So eventually I'm sure it will make it.

Some observations in closing this report: The food is excellent. Many choices, a nice salad bar with each meal, pizza, pasta, or deli sandwiches available if you don't like the entree, and some yummy chocolate things (among others) for dessert. I'll need to diet when I get home! There are a lot of steps on campus. It's built on a hill, and dorms and dining hall are mostly at the bottom of the hill, while most classroom buildings are at the top. Makes it a little challenging for those with wheelchairs, canes, or crutches. It's hot here! Folks who aren't used to the humidity are sweltering, but I, the Iowegan, think nothing of it. I understand the swimming pool has been a very popular place to gather nightly after the sessions are over. I on the other hand have spent my evenings catching all of you up on the day's activities. Do I miss the swimming? Are you kidding? But I won't get into that....you have my previous post on the status of bathing suits in my life, so you should be able to figure out that I'm much happier here with my little laptop. :-0 Sweet Adelines love big bags to carry things around in. The winning bag for the week is the one beloning to someone I know but who asked not to be identified. It said: "Barbershop Harmony. Invented by men, perfected by women." Hopefully I'll have time tonight to post the show information for you, before I head out in the morning.

In harmony,
Kay


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