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Singing school, part 2

We had the second session of the fall singing school today. Julian Damashek was our singing master this time, and his session was quite different from, but equally good as, the first session taught by Marsha Genensky.

Julian taught a quite traditional singing school: much of what he taught was material that can be found in the “Rudiments of Music” section at the beginning of the 1991 Sacred Harp. He focused on tune, time, and accent. He began with tune, or getting the notes right, and went over the fa, sol, la system of shape notes, and how that makes it easy to sing the tune. While this was review for some of the new singers, there were a fair number of new singers who had not been able to attend the first session of the singing school and for whom this was new information.

He then went on to talk about time, and led the class in beating time for both double time and triple time tunes. He asked the singers to stop worrying about the tune for just a moment, and concentrate on beating time (even if they got a few notes wrong). So we all beat time together for a 4/4 tune, a 2/4 tune, a 3/4 tune, and a 6/4 tune.

By this time, the hour allotted for the singing school was almost over, and Julian just touched on accent. He told the class that in Sacred Harp singing, you accent the first and third beats in a 4/4 tune, and in a 3/4 tune you accent the first beat and, to a lesser extent, the third beat.

Teaching from the “Rudiments of Music” is really important, and really difficult. Having sat through some mediocre singing schools on the “Rudiments of Music,” I can tell you that when the singing master is not perfectly focussed and organized and is less than warm and entertaining, a singing school on the “Rudiments” feels like a waste of time. Julian was focussed, organized, warm, and entertaining, and I enjoyed every minute of his teaching.

Due to heavy work schedule, posted 4 days late.