In my first blog post, we experienced The Runthrough. With this blog post, let me introduce you to the Vocals.
For many people, Oklahoma is a play full of great music. For others, it’s a musical with some great writing. To me, it’s both. I love the songs in this play - all of them. Having grown up listening to the 1955 soundtrack to Oklahoma every Sunday (thanks Mom & Dad!), I thought I knew all the songs. It was only when we began practicing the vocals for the 29 songs in the show that I discovered there are a number that didn’t make it on to the soundtrack album. It was quite a discovery for me.
So how do we begin practicing vocals? Our group gathers at our rehearsal location - the St. Thomas Anglican church hall - for our first singing rehearsals the day after the Runthrough. The women already seem to know who is singing which parts, from Soprano to Altos, they’re sorted out and sounding great right off the bat. For the men….well, some of use are just finding our voices. Ranging from Tenors to Baritones to Bass, the men bring a mix of experience to the show. I’m a Tenor 2, which means that I sing a mix of melody and harmony.
For most people, including me, melody is easier. It’s typically what we’d sing if we were to sing a song on our own. Harmony requires us to drop down a couple of notes and complement the melody. This is a challenge for me when I first start, as it feels like I’m singing out of tune (and perhaps was anyway). Those high school music classes have helped me a little bit, as I also need to remember symbols such as flats and sharps, notations such as p, mf, and ff. It can be intimidating to be surrounded by trained singers who seem able to hit any note at any time, as you’re trying to make your voice come close to what’s written in the musical score.
Our musical director Nicola has an incredible musical ear. She can pick out people singing notes that are just off at twenty paces. She works us and works us until we’re right on and able to perform the songs as they are written. The challenge now is to do it without the music in front of us!