Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The tough guy that I made cry...

I've had several requests for what I did to make that poor young man cry. Yes, I said cry...I'm still crying over it myself.

Well...let me just say that in a college choir setting, if you can't match pitch (this means, sing the same pitch as others or the pitch being played on an instrument...i.e. the right pitch), then you know about it. Actually, you probably aren't in that choir in the first place, but if it's just a momentary lapse, your neightbors give you the stink eye and the director may point at you and say, 'You're flat, dummy.' This is completely acceptable in a semi-professional setting like a college choir.

In a non-professional group full of teenagers, this is not a good method and it is very difficult to gently let a student know that they cannot sing. Really...can not sing...while still keeping their young, fragile egos in tact.

The problem is, that the tough guy that I made cry is not the student that can't sing. Go figure. The student that can't sing is completely unaware of this fact and I can't get him to realize that when he thinks he is singing the same pitch as his neighbors he's actually singing a dissonant interval below them (a note that absolutely does not belong with the right one to any ear, even crazy 20th century composer's).

To enlighten the singers to pitch problems, it's common practice to stand in a circle and sing. They hear the right thing coming at them from all directions and it usually fixes the problem, in this case the ones singing the right thing started holding their ears, crossing their eyes and doubling over in pain in the effort to stay on the right note. So, I changed the drill. One person starts singing, then his neighbor starts, and so on around the circle. This makes them really listen and hopefully hear themselves a little better. The 'student that can't sing' went merrily along singing the wrong pitch and the tough guy got embarassed. I looked up at him (he's about twice my height, curly brown hair and dark complected) and he started to blink back tears from his huge brown eyes. My heart melted and I stopped that excercise immediately and said 'Good job guys, blah, blah, blah...' and he left the room shortly after. He did come back and I tried to diffuse the situation some more. He was smiling by the end, but only time will tell...Ugh...

There you go.

The fist bump is something that can only be passed on from master to pupil, you couldn't possibly get the coolness of it through the written word.


  1. aw, poor guy! He actually sounds very sweet and sensitive. But seems like you did a good job handling it.
    Um, I think a diagram or something might work to teach us the fist bump? Or you could take a series of pictures as you do it with someone? ;-)

  2. post a video of the fist bump please!