Fall Regional Weekend can be a fun time to reconnect after summer! Catch up with old friends, sing around, and generally enjoy our shared hobby. This year, we were fortunate to have a new perspective from Master Director Kim Wonders. Along with her sense of humor and honesty, she shared some things that have helped her chorus be successful. She helms Metro Nashville Chorus, which has 45 singers on stage. Those details along with her impressive collection of jewelry (medals and pins and the like) really grabbed me from the start on Friday night.
She shared some things that really stayed with me. More than just the typical talking about vocal skills and the like. She reinforced some ideas which apply to barbershop singing with Sweet Adelines, and the rest of life.
If you’re going to play the game, know the rules:
Read the judges guidebook. It’s long, but it is a way to understand how to prioritize your learning and present the best possible performance. Understand where your skills lie and what comes next to continue to grow and advance.
Be true to yourself:
A chorus should stay true to its identity and culture, as those are important aspects as to what makes it unique. A member should give 100% but that is different for each member.
Find comfort in your strengths:
Have the right people for the job in the chorus, and have the right music for you to perform. It’s okay to acknowledge what makes you strong and to use that to your advantage.
Competition is healthy:
Having a competitive spirit is okay and it fosters growth in those around you. Competitive and arrogant are not the same thing, and a good attitude is contagious.
Pay attention to the details:
Learn the tiny details, from singing correct intervals to moving with purpose while performing. And yes, they take lots of work. Week after week, doing the hard stuff leads to success in the long term.
We often joke that coaches come in and say the same thing we’ve heard countless times and we tend to listen. Something about Kim made me listen, but I also believed her. We are very fortunate to get an education as a part of this hobby, so we hear from different people in the course of a year. Kim was a total breath of fresh air for me. I feel like she is the first director to truly speak to where I am at as a singer, and her advice really energized me.
I must admit the timing has something to do with all of it as well. We are starting a new uptune, we are working towards our annual show, and some of us are competing at International in just a few days. We often hear from Queens of Harmony or directors of large choruses, or even judges and specialists. While these women are clearly good at what they do, it doesn’t always feel like we can live up to their achievements.
When you meet someone who has the same set of guidelines as most of us, and she presents herself with grace, humor, and honesty, those are words that find a home. Kim Wonders, a former music teacher, made sure to share stories of both success and challenge -- what went well and what blew up in her face. I think it was acknowledging the difficulties of being a high-level singer and performer which I found the most refreshing. She said, “It’s hard but we do it anyway.”
It is this sort of spirit which I hope to adopt and embody. I love to learn and do new things, and I aim to improve my skills through hard work. I love to sing, and I love to sing with my chorus. I am Sweet Adelines. I am Merrimack Valley A Cappella.