The SINGS led by Alice Parker have delighted groups all over the United States and Canada since she started leading this kind of program forty years ago. Begun as an introduction to her Writing for Voices classes, the concept grew to include church congregations and choirs, then people of all ages and background who wish to sing together. The music can be sacred or secular. It is sung with no accompaniment but what the singers can provide with their own voices and imagination.
The unique feature of these SINGS is their high musical accomplishment—the sheer beauty and communicative power of the singing. Yes, they are open to anyone, regardless of age. There is no need to read music: the teaching is done by rote. Some songs are old favorites and some totally unfamiliar. The atmosphere is one of delight in joining in music-making, and of ease in creating varied sounds.
The focus is on melody—that which can be sung by one voice, that miraculous combination of words, rhythms and pitches. Ms. Parker teaches by demonstration, ‘lining out’ the melody so that what the listener learns is a totally convincing, musically satisfying song. The group repeats each phrase, listening for ever more-subtle inflections, until the mood and sound of that melody are established. Then the group is invited to improvise a setting according to brief suggestions made by the leader: can you echo, make a round, try an ostinato, or harmonize?
The GIA Quarterly notes:
“What is missing from her mile-long list of accomplishments and duties is a description of her charisma in causing music to happen. Her understanding of the unaccompanied vocal line has caused some of the most enchanting music ever heard at a Conference. . . There is no one who is not a singer when she leads.”
The comment heard most frequently at the end of such a session is “That was such fun!” The singers have participated in a most wonderfully creative game which both unites the group and releases its potential as each person joins in ‘melodious accord’.
Enjoy a taste of hymn singing with Alice Parker.