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The Front Row

notes fa sol la Dear Miss Grace Notes: I am a tenor, a recent convert to this music -- three glorious months! After I learned that you get the best sound when you get as close to the center of the square as you can, I made a point of sitting front row center at every all-day singing I attend. Sometimes, of course, I enjoy sitting back and watching and listening; often I must get up to stretch my legs. Recently someone I thought was my friend suggested to me that I move to an end of the front row or even to the second row. I like to be where the sound is best. What should I do? ----Sound Lover

image of Miss Grace Notes Gentle Singer: Miss Grace Notes suggests that you ask yourself one question: Can I carry my part on all songs at least as well as any of the other singers present? If you can answer that question "yes," you may stay where you are.
   This is a subject dear to Miss Grace Notes' heart. She asks you to remember the first time you were called to the center of the square. If you are like most new singers, your knees got weak, you felt a little tingly and dizzy, your hands began to shake, and you began to wonder how you were going to manage to hold the book, sing and wave your arm (how was it again that one beats 3/4 time?). Miss Grace Notes hopes you remember what it was like to look up and see the confident and downright encouraging expression of the singers in the front bench -- probably Hugh McGraw, Jeff Sheppard, Kelly Beard, Terry Wootten, Stanley Smith, Richard DeLong, or any one of a number of good singers, maybe even one of those Yankee mavericks. If so, you can see Miss Grace Notes' point.
   The front bench of any part (with the possible exception of the alto section behind you) can help the new singer out, all benches help keep the beat for the entire class, sing out sure and strong, and generally help to hold a singing together, to make it a memorable experience. Miss Grace Notes assures you that while the singers on the front bench always seem to have a good time, they work hard. Most strong singers will not occupy the same seat all day unless they are truly needed there. Knowing that the front bench seat carries an obligation to go "all out" on every song, after a time they will offer their seat to others, and move to another seat further back. Singers who know few songs are rightfully wary of spending too much time on a front bench during the day; common sense suggests one singing period.
   Miss Grace Notes knows that you are a lover of Sacred Harp music. She suggests you watch and learn from the long-time singers. when you are ready for the front bench, you will be invited up. Until then, Miss Grace Notes suggests that you let the experienced singers, whatever part they sing, do what they do best, where they can be seen and heard by all. Everyone -- regardless of level of experience -- is best served when an all-day singing is strong and sounds great.

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