I have been in choirs all my life, starting in a children’s choir back in Germany. In German choirs, at least the ones I was in, each section practices separately, and after everyone has memorized their part, the sections are put together. Therefore, sight singing is never necessary, and I had never heard of it before I came to the US. My inability to sight sing got me into trouble from then on, but I loved choir singing too much to just give it up. Thru the years I’ve been in various church choirs, but always had to make sure I stood next to someone who knew how to sight sing really well, so I could copy their notes.
A lot of times, I had to enter the alto part into a music program at home in order to learn it, which was very time consuming.
Luckily, a member of the last church choir I was in introduced me to sacred harp. The shapes were the solution to my problem.
They really do work!! Just give it some time, and you will be able to sing any song in shape note notation.
Being a part of the sacred harp community also makes moving less traumatic: Wherever you go, you can look up local singings and make new friends. And the songs they sing will be the same, no matter where you go, so there is one thing in life that doesn’t change, and that is very comforting.
I came across Shape Note singing in college when I was trying a lot of new things. I was drawn to the music because of the kindness of the people who were singing it.
I sang in the alto section because that’s where I’ve always sung, unable to hit the high notes with any volume or control. I remember my understanding of music was turned on its head when our fearless leader bent down from the center, looked me in the eye and said “You have a very pretty voice Chelsea – now sing LOUD.” Gone were the ideas of blending with the group and my cultivation of a low falsetto. I remember the first time my chest voice was strong enough to reach a higher note in “Hallelujah” and then, occasionally, in “Africa.” It was transcendent and powerful and empowering and impossible to sing softly without straining the voice. I haven’t really seriously looked back.
Shape note singing has been a journey for me. Each year I realize I have learned more. I have gone from being terrified of all of the new songs at a convention and just trying to catch a note here or there as it flew by to knowing songs well enough to start HEARING and FEELING the poetry and understanding more deeply the other parts. I love shape note music for the community and because, unlike in other choruses, we bring the energy every time, not just at the performance.
The more I sing the words, the more grounded I become in prayer about eternity, love and forgiveness. I do not believe in every idea we sing, but I do appreciate meditating on the poetry and thinking about the ideas the songs bring up and the community members who are always ready to bring it into context. I am not religious, but I do pray and now prayer feels most full and profound when I can pray with my voice.
It is no wonder to me that I have married the tenor man who I met as I cast my voice into the hallowed square and met his eyes week after week.
I have called this song in Burlington twice now. I mentioned that Chelsea found a website from singers in Bremen, Germany.
This page is from their site and has resources for learning 367 “Consolation” from The Sacred Harp
The Western Massachusetts Sacred Harp Convention is one of the biggest events for singing from The Sacred Harp in the world and it gathers just a couple hours drive from much of VT. Travel gets more and more challenging for us to fit into our budget so as much we can we will want to coordinate our travel plans to try and save on the cost of fuel.
If you would like to coordinate with other VT or Quebec singers fill out this form and I will try and connect you. There is no money collected for travel scholarships yet but if you use this form please indicate whether you are interested in receiving a travel scholarship. When I respond I will indicate whether travel funds are available[contactme]
If you would like to contribute to the travel scholarship of SNSCOVI please use this option for making a donation
I love singing Sacred Harp every week because the music meets my needs for community and celebration of the goodness of life as well mourning its tragedies. Warm regards, Dhyano
Chelsea found this great singers resource on a website based in Germany. It’s a great website in many places, but the tool we’ve looked at with most appreciation is accessed from their “lieder [song?] page. There you will find a extensive index of songs in The Sacred Harp. Then if you click on any entry on the index you see both a “pdf” of the song and a player that allows you to select a voice part to hear a computer voice sing your part and the words. It sounds funny but it’s awesome, and you can use the “pdf” to read and sing along with.
I urge anyone who can to experience learning shape-note singing at Camp Fasola in Alabama. I wish that they had sessions closer to VT, but perhaps that will come.
I am going to find a pdf of the camp registration and make that available here.
I will note that in a post on their website they indicate that registration opens on January 1st.
Hello everyone. We can use singing schools to further enhance the wonderful experiences we already have in our local singings. I have drafted a form for you to fill out as we organize towards hosting a series of singing schools.
I have not had exciting videos here at vtshapenotesingers.com. Today I have begun to address that shortcoming by searching for videos on YouTube and embedding some in a page on this website.
Video page at vtshapenotesingers.com
Ultimately I would like to be more involved in creating some video content from singing in Vermont and providing access to that content on this website but this is the beginning that I can make.
I have been on hiatus from developing this site for a months, but now I am going to add it back into my mix of things.
All the communications organizers of local singings in VT have been invited to create pages with information about their local sing. A couple of sings have done that already.
I also want to encourage any of these organizers or any local singer at all to write a more personalized profile of their local singing. This profile could appear on the website as a blog post or another web page linked to the page for the local singing. If you are interested in welcoming new singers to your local singing this could be one way for you to communicate to new singers what you are about. Since people are relying on the internet more and more to find the information they want many might appreciate a profile of your local singing here at this website.
If you want create a profile of your local sing as blog post or a page one way you can let me know is by clicking on the “leave a reply” at the bottom of this post. The mechanisms running the site will send me your reply.