Tra la la: Singers behind-the-scenes.

All my life I’ve been singing, solo and with groups large or small.  I don’t watch Glee.  I’ve heard it’s hilarious.  As a firm believer in not taking yourself too seriously, today it’s time for giggles.  Hopefully these bring a smile and even a chuckle forth.


Like any other subculture of folk with a common passion, singers have a whole other way of relating to each other.  Conversation is sprinkled with random, impromptu songs that are usually either hilariously awesome…  Or awful.

Singers have an innate ability to look like a cross between a Wall Street trader and sign language interpreter, while singing, by using gestures to communicate  during rehearsals.

Fascinatingly funny hangups around humility and confidence are common.

Honor and praise is shown by feigning violent attack after a worthy performance.  Objects (typically water bottles, tissue, pencils or shoes) are thrown, or shoes (while still on feet) may be placed within inches of their face.  Air-headlocks, shoving, and face-slaps are also common.  Most of the time, this is harmless comedic play.  Other times, someone hurls a half-full water bottle… That smacks you in the middle of the forehead.  That just happened.

The voice is a musical instrument so many singers, like other musicians even those who read music and are well-versed in music theory haven’t learned a second instrument (e.g. piano, guitar, etc.)  Any reference to such skill is prized and worthy of immediate reverence.

The key is basically the range of notes in a song.  Changing keys smoothly takes prep, like anything with established parameters and expectations.

Below are a few quotes that illustrate these points of info or are just fun.

Straight from a singer’s cords…

After a rocky performance: “Um.  Is it just me or have they been changing keys on us?”

“Yes.  Yes they have.  You were in the stratosphere on that last song.”

After a particularly amazing moment, one singer had this to say in response to an air face-slap: “I don’t even know what’s about to happen half the time.  I just say a prayer and open my mouth.”

Appropriate confidence from a phenomenal vocalist: “I hate when people ask me to sing on the spot.”

“You still slay every song though.”

“Well.  I’m not going to misrepresent.”

Silent signals: “Hey.  When that note comes, I’m going to touch your elbow if I’m not gonna hit it.  So you can sing it for me.”

“What?  Don’t do that.  What if I don’t know what you’re tapping me for?  Just sing it.”

“That’s why I’m telling you now.  If I touch your elbow, you’ll know exactly why.  Don’t act like you don’t.”

Directors get to have all the fun:

Directors bring out the best in ensemble singing and are awesome and all wildly different, wildly entertaining.

Directing singers can be a bit like a cross between babysitting, lecturing college students, and football practice.  It’s common to be singing your heart out while a director barks instructions and you adjust accordingly.

No matter how great a leader they are, tension will run high.  Fun will follow.

In the middle of a demonstration that got drowned out by overzealous background humming:  “Stop.  Don’t sing while I’m teaching, listen.  When you don’t know it I’ll have to sing it again and I’m not wasting my voice.”

Clarifying what should happen when a lead forgets the words other singers are supposed to repeat:  “Singers.  Whatever the lead sings, you follow.  I don’t care what they sing. We’re a team.  If they sing the wrong words you don’t come back with the right ones and put them on blast.”

Admonishing the group after a terrible and drawn-out cacophonous group search for the right note:  “This is not anthropology people.  We don’t hunt.  We don’t gather.  We sing!

Clarifying what was really meant by encouraging the singer to improvise:  “Ad lib there, using these words.  I want you to explore, sing whatever you want.  You’re not used to this kind of freedom as a singer, are you?”

When trying to perfect a song with no obvious breaks for breath: “When should I breathe?”

Director: “Shoot, whenever you can.  I breathe all the time.  I’m breathing right now. Seriously though.”

After a botched attempt at a song: “Yeah, I don’t even know what that was.  I was flat and sharp at the same time I think.”

Director: “Wouldn’t that mean you were in tune?”

A little constructive criticism: “I don’t think what you heard when you wrote the song, is what you actually recorded when you went into the studio.”

Tra la laaaaaaaaaa.

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