The basic set up: the workshops had room for 12 full quartets, though singers were invited to attend as trios, duets or even singles. We used a “Learn it, Try it” approach to the information sessions. One of the members of Lustre would lead the class and describe the technique, then Lustre would demonstrate it, then class participants would split up and try the technique themselves right then and there, and then the group would gather back together to discuss what they had learned.
Our goal was to give new quartet singers the basic information they need to get their quartet experience off to a great start. When we were a “newbie” quartet, we often struggled with trial and error, figuring out a lot of things on our own, from how to blow the pitch pipe during a performance, to how to rehearse without a coach, to how to choose music, to how to get along with each other, and so on. We often felt like the educational events that were offered at the Regional level were a step or two ahead of where we were. We wondered where new quartets could go to get this most basic information? A couple of years ago, we began to simmer on an idea for a “beginning quartet” workshop. We even had a long brainstorming session in a restaurant one time when we were on our way home from a regional educational weekend, feeling like there were some things that we might be able to offer to fill in the gap. When the January 2013 Region 19 Singer’s School town hall session resulted in a request for this kind of workshop to be provided, we stepped forward and brought out our old back-of-the-napkin notes, and the Quartet Skills Workshops were born!
At the workshops, we focused on providing tools for quartets to use to help themselves. Sweet Adelines have a rich tradition of bringing in coaches to work with quartets, but new quartets often can’t afford to bring in coaches very frequently, and even so, quartets need to learn how to rehearse when there isn’t a coach in the room.
The agenda for the workshop covered:
- Rehearsal Techniques – Vocal
- Rehearsal Techniques – Visual
- Basic Stage Skills for Contest and Performance
- Music Selection and Song Order for Performances
- Managing Performances
Throughout the day, the participants in the workshop asked great questions, shared their own experiences and asked advice from each other. We loved seeing the connections being made within the quartets in the region. We even had two quartets from Region 14 in attendance at the Eastern workshop, which was great for expanding the quartet singers network beyond the Region 19 borders.
We’ve found that we have learned as much from this QSW experience as the workshop attendees. It’s said that teaching helps to solidify one’s own understanding of the subject matter, and we’ve found that to be so true! Expanding our quartet skills into the teaching and mentoring area has been wonderful for us, and we’re looking to do more of that in the future.