Vocal Harmonies Sung by Ear

W O W !!! As much as I love teaching and as much fun as well as learning we have in the Jazz Vocal Workshop, this last session was inspiring, spellbinding and loads of challenging fun!  We talked about harmony – what it means to them and what it means in music.  I had the idea to have the class learned two fairly simple tunes – Blue Monk by Thelonious Monk and Cahn/Styne’s Time After Time.  After we went through both melodies a few times ( they learned the tunes quickfast) I divided the class into two groups.

Starting with Blue Monk, I had a control group perform the melody while the other group improvised harmonies using syllables such as oohs, ahhs and ohhs in real time.  It was truly amazing how the ear tuned to the chord notes!  Later on we switched to Time After Time, using the same system as well as experimenting with overlapping call and response and improving harmony while singing with lyrics.

It was a wonderful sensation to hear the vocalists voices belending to hear them get more confident the more we did it.  It was the first time that the workshop focused on an exercise the lasted the entire 2 hours. The vocalists loved it – enjoying the challenge and feeling more at ease at the same time.  Now I’m thinking ahead and prepping for students presentations.  How about forming a small improvising vocal choir?

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