‘Singlish’ one focus of vocals workshop

‘Singlish’ one focus of vocals workshop

THE BATTLEFORDS — Battlefords Blend Harmony Chorus members were put to work over a weekend recently as they welcomed Sheryl Brook to North Battleford to put them through their paces.

Brook has been active in Sweet Adelines International since 1979. Over the years she has been a member of Gateway Chorus, Alberta Gold Show Chorus, Lloydminster Chorus and was a charter member of River Hills Chorus. She became the director of Hearts of Harmony Chorus, Red Deer, Alta. in January 2006 and continues to direct this enthusiastic chorus today.

In addition to directing the chorus, she sings bass with the quartet, “Gilt.” This is the latest of the six quartets she’s been a part of in her Sweet Adelines career.

It seems that every time her husband had to move for his work, Brook found, or, in the case of River Hills Chorus, started a chorus.

This comes as no surprise as she grew up with a love of barbershop music. Her father and grandfather sang in a barbershop quartet and her mother, now 87 years old, commutes an hour every week to attend Hearts of Harmony rehearsals. Brook’s daughter is carrying on the tradition as she is also a member of the chorus her mother directs.

At the age of 23, she became a part of Region 26 Music Faculty, serving there for 25 years. Brook continues to learn by attending regional and international conventions and educational symposiums. She loves to pass along all that she has learned over the years and teaches it with verbal and physical humour, compliments and clear and constructive instruction.

During the workshop, Brook consistently praised the chorus for its excellent sound while tutoring them on some of the finer points of barbershop singing. She emphasized the importance of air, finishing phrases and “Singlish.”

Singlish is, in part, using tall vowels and short consonants while keeping in mind that the chorus is not only the singers but also the band. In other words, it’s the chorus that provides the song and the accompaniment.

Battlefords Blend is a part of Sweet Adelines International’s Region 26, the only all-Canadian region. As such, they have access to some of the best facilitators in the world to help enrich a cappella singing skills.

Brook is the latest in a long list of educators who have come to the Battlefords to help improve the skills of the local chorus. Lisa Greenough has come from her Edmonton base several times to coach the group. She is the master director of Gateway Chorus whose quartet “Thumbs Up” represented the region at the recent international competition held in Louisville, Ky.

Another educator who has come to the Battlefords is Master Director Sandy Morran who recently directed Lions Gate Chorus to become the current International Champion Chorus, competing against choruses from around the world.

The chorus will implement learnings from the weekend and past workshops in their upcoming shows.

Check them out on Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. as Frontier Centre hosts an afternoon of entertainment featuring Battlefords Blend Harmony Chorus, Annette’s School of Dance, youth singers and pianist Jackson Wirstuk.

The chorus is also preparing for a show on Sunday, Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. at the Dekker Centre which will also feature local guest performers.

New members will be welcome to rehearsals in the New Year, and anyone interested is always welcome to call for more information.

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