All Verses and All Repeats
My favorite song has several verses and when
I lead it, I hate to leave any of them out. Lately at conventions
I have noticed that some people seem to be irritated when others
sing all the verses to a song or take all repeats. I thought
everyone was supposed to respect the leader's right to sing
whatever and however he or she wants? ----Wants
All of 146
Notes sympathizes with your feelings. While going about her
chores, she often adds multiple repeats to her favorite songs. She
nevertheless recognizes that such indulgences on her own time
might be inappropriate in group convention situations.
If you are talking about three verses to a short
song, a repeat on the last, why then we have no issue here. But
Miss Grace Notes guesses that you have something more in mind.
Sacred Harp singing, as your question suggests, is a democratic
institution. The leader's space, however, should not be equated
with the Senate floor in filibuster.
Miss Grace Notes agrees that as the leader you have
the right to set the way the song is to proceed. But she will not
tell you that you can make everyone like it. Just as the class has
a responsibility to follow the leader's choice and direction, the
leader has a responsibility not to induce tedium.
Convention etiquette is based on practical
considerations and simple courtesy. If all verses are sung to
every song, each with repeats, we will be singing until midnight,
and by then everyone will be singing bass. Similarly, there is a
place for a six-page anthem sung with both notes and words -- your
shower stall, perhaps, on a Friday evening, or in the car on your
way to an out-of-town session. If you launch into such at a large
all-day singing, you should do so with the realization that you
will have displaced two or three other leaders and exhausted the
charity of your acquaintances.
Miss Grace Notes has always believed that one of the
characteristics of a good leader -- along with sureness, presence,
time and such -- is a sense of what the class of singers wants,
and to what it will cheerfully give its assent. Sometimes that may
mean singing an extra verse or, in rare instances, taking another
repeat. Seasoning -- in both the leader's space and the singer's
chair -- will lead to a sense of when to take such liberty. In the
meantime, you are encouraged to follow the pattern of experienced
leaders you admire. See what boundaries they observe, and stay
well within their good example.
A final distinction, then: someone set for the
gallows the following day will no doubt be indulged by the group
in a request to have all five verses to his favorite song sung
with repeats on each verse. Anyone else making such a stand at a
crowded convention should not be surprised to see a noose
materialize midway through the lesson.
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