I had my first concert with Stuck in the Middle (SIM) today. Okay, so the audience was a classroom full of bored middle schoolers, but nevertheless it was fun to be back in the performing habit. I am learning bit by bit what a cappella actually means. Things I have noticed:
- The musical score is always wrong. The song itself is passed down from year to year by means of an oral tradition of sorts. Words are changed, rhythms adjusted, melodic lines added, etc. It’s a lot easier to listen to others on your part and pick it up that way.
- There is a lot of throw-away time in rehearsals, regardless of how “focused” the group is. It is necessary to just joke and fool around in order to keep the mood/morale of the group high. This is good.
- A cappella groups are democracies, above all else. If someone disagrees with you, they’ll let you know.
- The only way new songs get into the repertoire is if you propose and arrange the song for the group.
- Basses sing no more than five actual words in any given song. They, however, are experts at the sounds: “doo,” “dah,” and “bop.”
- Beat boxers are valuable beyond belief because they control the tempo. No beat boxer, no singing. They also know everyone else’s part since they don’t have any pitches to sing.
I have been thinking about this lately since I have also joined Mt. Ayres, the classical madrigal group. I think I may be the first person in history to participate in SIM and Mt. Ayres at the same time. The groups are polar opposite in personalities.