I went to a fabulous all day Sacred Harp singing in New Haven Connecticut last weekend. It was great. Thoughts:
Size and Space
This wasn't a huge singing. There plenty of singings in the Northeast that have higher attendance, but that doesn't matter, there was something nice about getting to sing with the people assembled.
It helped that the room was great for singing, and it was the perfect size for the crowd. Sacred Harp singers are often big folklore geeks or big music geeks, but I think deep down, we're all really huge room geeks. Because a room that just sounds and feels good, makes all the difference in the world.
Note to self: Go to more awesome regional singings in great rooms in the future.
It was a pleasantly warm spring day, and with 80 or so people in a room, it got warm, and while this did subtract something from the comfort level, it also sets the mood somehow, and changes the tone of the day. Also, when the air is a bit more humid (but it only needs to be a bit,) and it's not as drafty and cold, its easier to keep your voice warmed up. The end result: I (or one) will sing better between April and September.
My Voice Part
In an unusual move for me, I spent 3 out of 4 sessions singing Tenor. While I don't have a "super bass" voice, I'm defiantly on bass side of baritone. In Sacred Harp, theoretically everyone can sing tenor, and it's fun to mix things up a bit and songs sound different in different parts. I am also finding that having a sense of another part makes it possible to have a more rich sense of the music. Highly recommended.
Also, every time I sing tenor it takes me 25 minutes to remember (or remind my body) how to do it, so it was particularly nice to have a good long spell of singing to both figure out how to sing the part but also to get more comfortable with it.
My local singing community has been a bit bereft of basses lately, so I haven't had much opportunity to actually sing tenor as much as I might like recently, so it was a particularly good change of pace.
I had something of an epiphany about leading and choosing your song at a singing.
While choosing a song that you like and enjoy hearing is obviously a part of the processes, I think song choice is more about choosing the right song for the moment, and figuring out what will sound best next, given the previous few songs.
I used to obsess a great deal about what song I would lead, and study it (at least some) before the singing even began. This weekend, I came with a few songs that I'd been thinking about but changed at the last moment when I thought that the song I had picked out wouldn't fit very well.