Students sing a different tune
FARMER’S KORNER – Devotees of barbershop-style singing have a few things in common with missionaries.Though they don’t knock door-to-door, they have been known to send informational packets to music teachers about barbershop-style singing. They work on outreach to youth singers, and they absolutely love what they do.”It’s almost like they’re missionaries for the style,” said Cathie Hill, the music and drama teacher at Summit High School. “They want to spread the word. I’ve never encountered people as enthusiastic. They’re such upbeat, positive people to be around.”But, like many “conversions,” sometimes it takes the receivers a few times to get the message – and sometimes they don’t buy into it until a friend raves about it.Silverthorne resident Roger Taylor dropped off a packet about barbershop-style singing to Hill a couple of years ago. But she didn’t embrace the genre until this year, when a friend who teaches music at Clear Creek High School told her how practicing barbershop-style singing improved her students’ vocal techniques.”It made a huge difference for the boys because they learned to tune a chord so sharply,” Hill said. “It helps in every type of choral music.”Initially, Hill’s students were a little skeptical of the new form, but once they started working with the music, they liked it, she said.”Their hesitancy may be in confidence,” said Tony Pranaitis, vice president of Denver Mountain Aires Young Men in Harmony, which helped students prepare for tonight’s Barberfest ’04 at Summit High School. “But they always find what we do to be fun. They don’t seem to have a generation gap with when the songs are from. They even enjoy the gentle love songs or sad songs or religious songs, and they really love to do the fun songs. Their confidence takes a radical shift when we get the clinicians in front of them. They always do a lot better than they expect.”Pranaitis, along with the Denver Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America and Sweet Adeline’s, teaches students the genre by sending them rehearsal tapes then working with them face-to-face.One of their tricks involves having the boys perform for the girls and vice versa.”They always kick it up a couple of notches when they do that,” Pranaitis said.Tonight, about 40 students will perform with 12 adults, singing such songs as “The Band Played On,” “Coney Island Baby” and “Mr. Sandman.””It’s just fun music,” Hill said. “There’s just something about it the students really like – especially the guys. I think they like the idea of guys singing together and doing the parts that females would normally do.””It has universal appeal to all ages,” Pranaitis said. “It’s inherently joyful because of the tuning of the barbershop style.”The concert, which starts at 7 p.m. in the Summit High School auditorium, is free.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at email@example.com.
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