Stanford professor Heather Hadlock invited some Sacred Harp singers to teach one of her classes about Sacred Harp singing. Heather has come to sing with us, and so already had first-hand experience of Sacred Harp singing.
Marcia Genensky, of Anonymous 4 fame, was our leader. She gave a brief but fascinating introduction to Sacred Harp singing, and its place in American musical history. Then we all sang for most of the class. We had at least one experienced singer on each part, so the students would have a sense of the way the tradition works.
I think the students enjoyed this event. I do wonder what they actually learned from us. I hope they learned something about the living history of American music. Maybe they learned that perfect pitch doesn’t apply to all forms of music. Maybe they learned about yet another alternative solfege system. Maybe they learned that all music isn’t about performance.
It would be interesting to ask some of them in a few years if they even remember those loud, raucous Sacred Harp singers who came to their class….