The Stack, Bluegrass Singing Workshop
This post is available in French or English.
This was the 10th Bluegrass Singing Workshop with Mathilde Cousin, hosted by Ti’Pierre and Nathalie in their home near Chambery. 13 students were there, and the workshop was supported by Jam Hall.
Two week ends separated by one month, to let time to work on the songs and voices (lead and tenor) before studying baryton. Refering to the vocal stack in Bluegrass, the workshop was titled : The Stack.
The first part was on February the 19th and 20th, the athmosphere was joyful and the motivation was high.
7 women and 7 men, parity at the top !
Mathilde presented program and schedule for the week end. 5 songs, among them 3 from The Carter Family : When silver Threads are Gold Again, Lover’s Return, You’re Gonna Be Sorry ‘Cause You Let Me Down (Carter Family), The Wishing Well (Gibson Brother), Two More Years and I’ll Be Free (Stanley Brothers).
The workshop started with several warming up exercises, physical and for breathing, everybody loved it.
Mastering the diaphragm is essential to feel comfortable in singing. Then singing exercises to warm up our voices..
We listened carefully to several versions of each song, then we worked on the lead voice, melody, pronunciation, accentuation and phrasing, English is not our first language.
Mathilde let us work on and sing the three notes of the chords, the main tools in Bluegrass vocal harmony.
Then we studied the tenor part before assembling both voices, first as groups, then in duets, everyone trying both voices in his turn.
This was a really nice afternoon, 5 hours (with breaks) of discovering and singing. Then we listened to the songs scheduled for the next day.
Then came a pizza party and the evening jam. Especially songs, of course. Joyful.
Astemious breakast on Sunday morning, then we started at 09:30, same warm ups and more.
We worked on the new songs the whole morning, as groups and duets again, and seeing our progress was rewarding. More precision in the singing and sound, a real melting with the lead and tenor parts.
New rhythm and vocal games and exercises, some a little confusing at first sight, but so funny and efficient.
The afternoon weather was nice enough to let us sing in the meadow, Nathalie's horses stayed a while to listen. We reviewed the 5 songs on both lead and tenor parts, important step before working on the baryton part in 4 weeks.
Mathilde gave us her recordings of each lead and tenor part, so we left with work to practice with confidence at home.
Many thanks to Mathilde, a generous and engaged teacher, and to all the students for their great enthusiasm. We were from Isère, Savoie, Ain, Puy de Dôme, Paris, et même du Manitoba : Séverine, Isabelle, Marianne, Marlène, Dom, Jeff, Jean-François, Phil, Jean-Marie, Paul, Pascal (de Winnipeg) and of course Nath and Ti’Pierre for the hospitality and the warmth of their house.
Article rédigé par Philippe Boutet
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