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DISCUSSIONS   ON   CHOROGRAPHY

Message From: basstwo@webtv.net (basstwo) Date: Wed, Sep 16, 1998, 11:11pm To: lenwebster@webtv.net Subject: Fwd: Re: Teaching choreography, new members Date:    Wed, Sep 16, 1998, 11:17pm (CDT+1) Reply to:    A Discussion List For Those Interested in Barbershop Harmony Sender:    A Discussion List For Those Interested in Barbershop Harmony From:    "Rich Gervais, NED" Subject:    Re: Teaching choreography, new members To:    BBSHOP@ADMIN.HUMBERC.ON.CA As a relatively new member of the Electric City Chorus and making my first attempts at choreographing some of their repetoire songs, I am pleased to tell you about a wonderful way in which one of our co-directors has recorded the choreo for each of the five songs I have choreographed. I write the choreo on a copy of the music. He, using his computer, types the lyrics of the song and underscores them. The choreo is added under the lyrics with carrots pointing to that part of the lyric in which a move begins. We now have permanent copies of the five numbers that can be easily explained to new members and also allows for review by the chorus if, as is the nature of the choreographer's nightmare, the chorus begins to mutate the original design. Reference materials are readily available and keeps the original intent intact. No other chorus I have been with has used this method but I feel it will be great to have that written record down the line.                                                                                                                      Rich Gervais


Message From: basstwo@webtv.net (basstwo) Date: Sun, Sep 20, 1998, 6:42pm To: lenwebster@webtv.net Subject: Fwd: Teaching choreo to members & recruits X-MSMail-Priority:    Normal X-Priority:    3 Date:    Sun, Sep 20, 1998, 2:23pm (CDT-2) Reply to:    mjbarkl@inreach.com Sender:    A Discussion List For Those Interested in Barbershop Harmony From:    Michael Barkley Subject:    Teaching choreo to members & recruits To:    BBSHOP@ADMIN.HUMBERC.ON.CA Several people mentioned to me by private email that my flame of a few days ago on the "sink or swim/visual team terrorism" method of choreo instruction got in the way of the message I was trying to send, including one fellow who seemed to feel I was talking about him. Well, yes, that will teach me to post at 3:00 a.m. after a long and testy day, so here's a friendlier attempt. You would not teach a complex arrangement by withholding sheet music and learning tapes and forbidding individual taping and instead requiring that all members learn such arrangements either on risers or in "wedge" or row or part sectionals. Then why do you do it for complex choreo? Many of your members or recruits would like written & video tools to study in the privacy of their own home in the general spirit of "Learn your notes and words before coming to rehearsal." These writings would include (credit Geri Geis from her fine St. Jo class) the narrative that first introduced the new song to the chorus, a scenario to set the mood for the song, a description of the moves as they relate phrase by phrase or word by word to the song, and, if relevant, the intro the MC will use to present the song to the audience. Each video should start with a canned, demonstrated discussion of what the chapter expects in general in resets or "restates", facial expression, and physical dexterity. The video on the moves for the song would include enough closeup focus to ensure there is no doubt in the viewer's mind as to face, body angles, stance, nuances of foot, head, body, and arm movement and precision, power or tenderness intended, relationship of body to limb movement, common variations to be avoided (don't you get tired of teaching the same bonehead stuff over and over again to guys that "just don't seem to get it?"), a description of how such moves enhance the song and how they should flow together or be abrupt departures (and if they don't enhance, it's an opportunity for you to review and modify or drop the sequence - as you know, nothing teaches like being the teacher), and so on. Standard show videos don't show enough detail to suffice. If your guys are having trouble in particular spots, you can add footage on specific sequences emphasizing where their problems are and how to fix them. Most everyone has a VCR these days, every chapter large enough to be presenting choreo of this complexity has the usual crew of video buffs who can film such footage, and door mirrors are cheap enough at your local Home Depot, about $8 each, so that your guys can get several of them and prop them up next to their TV as they work through the video over and over similar to what they should with sheet music and audio learning tapes. As things come up you can add them to subsequent tapes (and they should be updated regularly), emphasizing problem areas or changes you want to cover. A lot of work? Can't be any harder than beating on the same stuff week after week, and, who knows, it might improve member retention a bit. And if you are really ambitious, you can add to your videos sequences similar to what Cindy Hansen presented in her also fine choreo class at St. Jo, a move-by-move teaching of common barbershop moves. I hope this helps,  --Mike Barkley, 161 N. Sheridan Ave. #1, Manteca, CA 95336 (H) 209/823-4817           Bass, Golden Valley, Stockton, Fremont, CBQA, ???....      QT "Nightingale Square" - mjbarkl@inreach.com - MS is not Microsoft.                                           Tap: a cappella for the feet.


Message From: basstwo@webtv.net (basstwo) Date: Wed, Sep 16, 1998, 11:10pm To: lenwebster@webtv.net Subject: Fwd: Re: Teaching choreography, new members Date:    Wed, Sep 16, 1998, 10:52pm (CDT+1) Reply to:    A Discussion List For Those Interested in Barbershop Harmony Sender:    A Discussion List For Those Interested in Barbershop Harmony From:    Jade Walker Subject:    Re: Teaching choreography, new members To:    BBSHOP@ADMIN.HUMBERC.ON.CA On Wednesday, September 16, 1998 7:42 PM, The Perkinses [SMTP:perkyfam@gte.net] wrote: A few questions for the H@rmonet Board of Barbershop Experts: How does your chorus go about teaching the choreography for your current chorus repertoire to new members? How were you taught the choreography as a new member of your chorus? What do you think of the method that was/is used? In my chorus (Carolina Harmony), we have rookie coordinators. A rookie is defined as someone who hasn't competed yet, and since we compete only once a year, this means the new member has someone to check in with for a whole year. It's not just for choreography -- it's also for getting learning tapes and getting orientation and information on events such as the show, retreats, and coaching sessions and things like shoes, costumes, and makeup. It's really a nice setup -- the rookies are being taken care of and not by EVERYBODY (which is kinda smothering). Anyway, on to choreography. The rookie coordinator finds someone in the chorus to teach the rookies in their own session. Usually a rookie doesn't make to the front row, so one of the riser captains or another member runs it, and it's basically taught the same way new choreography is taught in the chorus, getting the rookies to stand on the correct "side" of the group in case there are split or wave moves. At the end of the rookie year (the rehearsal before competition), we have a "graduation" ceremony. One of the members takes washcloths (for removal of stage makeup), rolls them up and ties ribbons around them, making them look like diplomas. The rookies file past, and she hands them out as we hum "Pomp and Circumstance". OK, it's a little silly, but it's fun. This method wasn't in place when I joined. I did the "sink-or-swim" method. This method is much better and I believe it helps with member retention. Jade Walker jadewalker@mindspring.com


Message From: basstwo@webtv.net (basstwo) Date: Mon, Sep 28, 1998, 4:07pm To: lenwebster@webtv.net Subject: Fwd: choreo X-Originating-IP:    [208.17.135.58] Date:    Fri, Sep 25, 1998, 7:51pm (CDT-2) Reply to:    A Discussion List For Those Interested in Barbershop Harmony Sender:    A Discussion List For Those Interested in Barbershop Harmony From:    Lori Ludlum Subject:    choreo To:    BBSHOP@ADMIN.HUMBERC.ON.CA pardon my lateness on the subject, but i'm a music teacher and this is beginner season - i'm trying to get caught up on my readings.           betty albrecht, my choreographer "emeritus" had come up with a great way of videotaping the basic choreo moves in a song. she has a very large mirror in her living room. the performer stands facing the mirror, while the videographer stands behind at an angle, facing the mirror. the video comes out so the leaner can see both the front and back of the gesture at the same time.  lori ludlum - director jersey sound chorus sai _______________________________________________ Get Your Private, Free Email at http://www.hotmail.com


Message From: basstwo@webtv.net (basstwo) Date: Wed, Sep 16, 1998, 11:05pm To: lenwebster@webtv.net Subject: Fwd: Re: Teaching choreography, new members X-Juno-Line-Breaks:    10,13 Date:    Tue, Sep 15, 1998, 8:41pm (CDT+1) Reply to:    A Discussion List For Those Interested in Barbershop Harmony Sender:    A Discussion List For Those Interested in Barbershop Harmony From:    "George C.Rau" Subject:    Re: Teaching choreography, new members X-To:    tednort@eznet.net To:    BBSHOP@ADMIN.HUMBERC.ON.CA Ted/Christy: Our chapter teaches choreography, more or less, on an as needed basis. For new songs the moves are taught as soon as we are off the paper. Usually the SP team demonstrates the moves in front of the chorus. Then we drill during consecutive rehearsals, with members of the team in front, making corrections. If the moves are many and/or extremely complex, we put them in writing, using the lyrics only, on a sheet of paper. New people are given separate instructions on repertoire numbers if they request them or it is obvious that they are needed. Usually this is gone prior to the chapter meeting as is front row practice. This method seems to meet our needs quite satisfactorily. I hope this answers some of your questions. SING-cerely, GEORGE RAU, Lead, Pine Barons Chorus, 96,97 & 98 Atlantic Div. Champions, Co-Chairman, 1998 MAD Fall Convention,   MAD Chapter Coach _______________________________________________ You don't need to buy Internet access to use free Internet e-mail. Get completely free e-mail from Juno at http://www.juno.com Or call Juno at (800) 654-JUNO [654-5866]


Message From: basstwo@webtv.net (basstwo) Date: Mon, Sep 28, 1998, 4:13pm To: lenwebster@webtv.net Subject: Fwd: Re: choreo, faces, etc Date:    Sat, Sep 26, 1998, 2:08am (CDT+1) Reply to:    A Discussion List For Those Interested in Barbershop Harmony Sender:    A Discussion List For Those Interested in Barbershop Harmony From:    Joan Carrassi Subject:    Re: choreo, faces, etc To:    BBSHOP@ADMIN.HUMBERC.ON.CA Just catching up on my Harmonet and other email and thought I'd add a quick $.02 to the discussion. My previous chorus in VT used to rehearse in a place where mirrors had been placed along one wall of the hall the width of the risers. They were just cheap oblong mirrors mounted vertically (no frames or space between) with bottom 2' or so from the floor. If you have a 4-level riser formation, most everyone can see the general gist of chorus movement when the risers are placed facing the mirrors. They can also see if they personally are not moving with the rest of the group and can see if their facial expression is not really as big as needed to come across with the appropriate emotions. You can still watch the director and peripherally see the chorus movement. We also had space for moving the risers so they weren't always facing the mirrors -- so as not to be dependent on always seeing themselves rather than singing to the audience. BTW, both men's and women's chorus rehearsed in the same hall on different nights and had the benefit of this arrangement. In my subsequent chorus environments, haven't been able to duplicate anything like this yet. In their church rehearsal spaces it would have to be something portable that gets put away after each rehearsal like the risers, and that just hasn't happened yet. But I really miss the opportunities for improvement, including on sound, that come from everyone being able to SEE what's happening. BTW, re: the discussion about choreo, vs sound, vs facial involvement, etc -- it has become very clear to me that the sound on a CD as well as the how the audience is drawn into a live performance is totally dependent on the involvement of the group in the song. Being totally focused, immersed/ involved, whether ballad or uptune with or without much actual planned choreography, will come across in the sound as well as the visual presentation. That is a significant part of what keeps raising the bar. Best regards, Joan now in NC singing with Carolina Style, SAI Reg 14


Message From: basstwo@webtv.net (basstwo) Date: Wed, Sep 16, 1998, 11:03pm To: lenwebster@webtv.net Subject: Fwd: Re: Teaching choreography, new members X-Priority:    3 X-MSMail-Priority:    Normal Date:    Wed, Sep 16, 1998, 5:38pm (CDT-2) Reply to:    A Discussion List For Those Interested in Barbershop Harmony Sender:    A Discussion List For Those Interested in Barbershop Harmony From:    "J. Saalfeld" Subject:    Re: Teaching choreography, new members To:    BBSHOP@ADMIN.HUMBERC.ON.CA Our chorus has recently adopted the "wedge" method for teaching all choreography. Each front row member is responsible for the wedge of guys directly behind him. Usually we also have one or two guys roam from group to group to check on everyone's progress. When new guys are trying to get up to speed on new moves, one of the "roamers" will take those few so they can get the individual attention they need without holding up the other groups. This method has been a tremendous boost to our chorus. The guys have really responded well to the front row members (even though many of our front row members are in their teens teaching men many years their senior!) and seem to really appreciate the individual attention.   The wedge leaders are able to coach the guys on things and answer questions that normally can't get taken care of in the whole chorus setting. Additionally, it makes the front row guys take a little pride and ownership in making sure that their section is staying up to par. Hope you can find some of this useful! Joe Saalfeld Lead - Salem Senate-Aires          1997 Evergreen District Chorus Champions -----Original Message----- From: The Perkinses To: BBSHOP@ADMIN.HUMBERC.ON.CA Date: Wednesday, September 16, 1998 4:42 PM Subject: Teaching choreography, new members A few questions for the H@rmonet Board of Barbershop Experts: How does your chorus go about teaching the choreography for your current chorus repertoire to new members? How were you taught the choreography as a new member of your chorus? What do you think of the method that was/is used?           As for me, I've been taught the choreography for the new songs for our show along with everyone else; however, learning the choreo. for the "old" songs has been of the throw-the-person-into-the-pool-to-teach-him-how-to-swim variety. Don't like that method much. For one thing, there are still a *lot* of songs that I don't know the choreo. for, having never been taught it or even been given a sheet of it. Busy as we've been learning our show, obviously we haven't done much other than our show tunes, so I haven't had much opportunity to learn it offhand. With the "old" song that we're doing on the show, the one that we're not being taught the choreo for because "everybody" knows it already, I feel like I'm still missing a few moves that I haven't yet discovered are even there.           Anyway, there's *got* to be a better way. Your thoughts on this would be appreciated! Christy Perkins Lead, "Sounds of Harmony" Reg. 21 "Golden West" REMEMBER: Show this Sat., 9/18, 2pm & 8pm, Garrison Theater, Claremont, CA. $5 children, $10 matinee, $12 evening. See you there! (feel free to e-mail me for details) perkyfam@gte.net   *                                                             *     **                                                                 * *                                                           * * *** I'd like to teach the world to sing in Barbershop harmony! *** ***                                                             Don't worry; be happy. (;>)<


Message From: basstwo@webtv.net (basstwo) Date: Thu, Sep 17, 1998, 1:43pm To: lenwebster@webtv.net Subject: Fwd: Re: Teaching Choreo, new members Date:    Thu, Sep 17, 1998, 1:17pm (CDT+1) Reply to:    A Discussion List For Those Interested in Barbershop Harmony Sender:    A Discussion List For Those Interested in Barbershop Harmony From:    Alan Winkler Subject:    Re: Teaching Choreo, new members To:    BBSHOP@ADMIN.HUMBERC.ON.CA Hbeckbari@AOL.COM wrote: I sing with the Richtones and our rookies have video tapes they can take home to learn the routines - and we also have a team of teachers who conduct early rehearsals on our rehearsal night or separate night rehearsals to teach choreography (or do refreshers for the rest of us!) Because we have so many "chunk" and "row" moves, it's easier to learn on the risers with the group. We have a bunch of newbies who have been cramming, both for our recent show and for contest in Nashville, and working their little butts off! They're doing great! ============================================= Just using Holly's post as a "backdrop" here ... not a direct response to what she posted ... BUT ... In *all* these posts re choreo, I have not seen *one* that talked about faces and body language! The "sell" in Presentation *isn't* in the *moves* .... it's in the face and the body language!!! You can put 100 or 10 men on risers, give them the *best* choreo in the world   ... but, if they don't "sell" the song facially (if they don't or cannot relate to the lyric and portray that facially and with body English), the world's best moves ain't gonna make it a winner!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A *Chimp* can move it's arms and legs ... but if the face and "Body English" don't completely envelope the presenter, it won't win. The judges (and your audience) will say, "Nice choreography ... but I didn't *believe* you!" *Forget* the dancing. You don't have to *dance* to sell ... you have to *SELL!* Wayne Newton doesn't dance. Frank Sinatra didn't dance. But they "sold." *every* word, *every* phrase conveys a *different* faceial look. Michael Jackson *dances* .... but watch his face when he does: he's *completely* into the song facially as well as with his choreography! He does the same with his face as with his body. Alan Winkler getting back into the fray and expressing his "2 cents"


Message From: basstwo@webtv.net (basstwo) Date: Thu, Sep 17, 1998, 1:31pm To: lenwebster@webtv.net Subject: Fwd: Re: Teaching Choreo, new members Date:    Thu, Sep 17, 1998, 11:23am (CDT+1) Reply to:    A Discussion List For Those Interested in Barbershop Harmony Sender:    A Discussion List For Those Interested in Barbershop Harmony From:    Hbeckbari@AOL.COM Subject:    Re: Teaching Choreo, new members To:    BBSHOP@ADMIN.HUMBERC.ON.CA I sing with the Richtones and our rookies have video tapes they can take home to learn the routines - and we also have a team of teachers who conduct early rehearsals on our rehearsal night or separate night rehearsals to teach choreography (or do refreshers for the rest of us!) Because we have so many "chunk" and "row" moves, it's easier to learn on the risers with the group. We have a bunch of newbies who have been cramming, both for our recent show and for contest in Nashville, and working their little butts off! They're doing great! Holly Beck < Subject: Teaching choreography, new members A few questions for the H@rmonet Board of Barbershop Experts: How does your chorus go about teaching the choreography for your current chorus repertoire to new members? How were you taught the choreography as a new member of your chorus? What do you think of the method that was/is used?>>


Saved message From: basstwo@webtv.net (basstwo) Date: Thu, Sep 24, 1998, 10:11am To: lenwebster@webtv.net Subject: Fwd: Acting for Singers Encoding:    64 TEXT Date:    Wed, Sep 23, 1998, 4:35pm (CDT-2) Reply to:    A Discussion List For Those Interested in Barbershop Harmony Sender:    A Discussion List For Those Interested in Barbershop Harmony From:    "Fuchs, Marty H" Subject:    Acting for Singers To:    BBSHOP@ADMIN.HUMBERC.ON.CA Ted Norton asks "I believe expressive singing is like acting. You can't rely on always having the right feeling inside that is required to be there when you need it. ... We need to learn how to portray something we want to show not what we currently feel. But How?"   ------------ As an actor, I use a two step process. Step one involves developing the character. I need to discover (or invent) who I am and why I am saying the lines the playwright has put in my mouth and why I am moving about the stage as directed. (I.e. What is my motivation?) Success as an actor (or a singer) can be measured by the degree to which the emotions of the play are conveyed to and shared by the audience. The barbershop judging phrase "from the heart" conveys a similar concept. I have previously discussed how to apply both the Stanislovsky and Checkov methods for building a character and how it can be applied to music presentation. To oversimplify and summarize my earlier post in one line, the former uses an internalization process to recall the appropriate emotion you want; the latter uses an externalizing imaginative process to achieve the same end result. Either of these approaches (or both) will help you create the character and the emotions to be conveyed. You will then know at every dialog phrase (or musical phrase) what it is your character is trying to say. Once you have your character, you are ready for Step two. (By way of analogy to music, this is the point at which the song is at performance level). Step two deals with maintaining that character during a performance. Suppose you get distracted and fall out of character. How can one get back quickly? The trick is what actors call "The Psychological Gesture (P.G.)" This is a physical gesture or stance that typifies and embodies your character - think of Yul Brenner's fists-on-hips stance in "King and I". Compare that with the "Masters of Harmony 'Reset' move". Whenever you feel the passion and emotion of your part slipping, the P.G. can help restore it. You just have to use it during rehearsals to get it associated as strongly as possible with your character. How do I relate this to singing? The lyrics, music, arrangement dynamics and choreo must be integrated together. The lyrics tell a story; the music reflects the emotional subtext; the arrangement and choreo emphasize and augment the overall impact of the presentation. If any of these pieces is out of sync with any of the others, the audience will sense it. How to create your personal P.G.? Ask yourself who your singing character is; E.g., for a lovesick young man, some plausible P.G.'s might include an eyebrow arch, a tilted head, slightly clenched hands, a shy back-on-your-heels stance...; any one of these would work. Clearly your move should not involve major movement or hands above the waist or any other movement which will upstage or bring audience attention to you. What are some plausible P.G.'s for a rhythm song in your repertoire?   (Left as an excecise for the student). :-) Every song is a mini-play with at least one emotional climax - we must approach each song not as just singers, but as emotional salesman of entertainment. Is this easy to do? It's certainly not harder than learning lyrics, music and choreo! But it does take discipline, creativity and practice.   And while there is obvious benefit for the audience, personally I find that this level of preparedness enhances my own personal experience and enjoyment. Marty Westminster, Ca martin.h.fuchs@boeing.com