Thursday, February 18, 2010

Looking Back on the Feb. 16th Chapter Meeting – First One Since Feb. 2

It seemed like everyone was really needing a “fix” of barbershop harmony and being with our fellow chapter members tonite. Since we had to cancel the Feb. 9th meeting, there was also a lot of catch up work to do.

And many guys realized that and came early for Chuck McKeever’s training session on the stage that starts every Tues. at 6 pm. He had a stage full and so some guys were watching from the main floor to absorb as much as possible.

The set up crew went right to work at 6 too and the coffee pot was perking away too.

There were some weather stories relayed to YeEd. Ian Poulin got hit by the snow in Richmond before it came to NoVa. So he has had snow to contend with for at least a whole other week. And Steve Guy and Len Dornberger made it down from DE and there-abouts. Of course the shoveling stories and sore backs were common.

Director Joe had stories too – but his were from his week of coaching in Hawaii. The chapter there says they are the “farm club” for the Harmonizers. There has been a long list of men who came to Alexandria from the Aloha Chapter. And a couple men have gone there from here.

Joe also reported visiting with David Wright, our terrific coach lined up for the retreat in June. David was here helping Joe at a weekend retreat for the Pride of Baltimore chorus that Joe also directs.

When the singing and chorus work out began, Will Cox did the musical warm ups. Then Joe started the work on the contest songs. After a little bit, he invited McKeever to take a few minutes of drill and review. That time was used for “ripple drills” as Chuck called them. The guys got so they could do the stepping down and stepping back up pretty well!

Then it was time to concentrate on the ballad. Geri and Royall Geis were back and Geri was welcomed to begin the process as our coach for the ballad. What a great plan and approach and rekindling of the great Harmonizer approach to delivering a heavy message song. She read a scenario and talked to the guys about their commitment in convincing first themselves and then their audience the true emotions of this great song.

The scenario and other materials about the ballad were sent to all members then as an email on Wednesday.

Geri used a new technique some of us had not seen to help the chorus understand the many layers of emotion needed for the ballad. She had a quartet sing the song and each time she raised her finger they stopped and she added another layer of emotion or description of what the singer needed to convey to his audience. (The quartet had worked on this to be able to do it so well. Thanks to Dan O’Brien, Tony Colosimo, Joe Sawyer, and Terry Reynolds.)

One drill Geri used, which we have seen her use with us before, was stating a word such as tender, bewildered, forsaken or flippant, then have the men demonstrate that word visually. When she finished her list it was clear that those 30 words were the essence of the ballad message.

She also talked about the passion of the singer and his message. It was clear we will approach a time when it won’t be funny to do some things, or that it will be ok to have such emotion in your throat you can’t sing! Those were the days!!!!

When Geri had finished and the cheers subsided, Joe took the chorus thru a “hot” run of the ballad. Wow!

It was time for meetings and break. Mark Klostermeyer welcomed all and plugged the need for guys to buy the left over Valentine candy from the chapter. Secretary Buechler gave new member materials to Victor Hills and Bert Phillips. He also asked those two guys to help him present renewal membership cards to Jim Lake for 16 years; Dean Martin for 7 years; Chuck Powell for 16 years; Frank Fedarko for 8 years; Brian Ammerman for 16 years; and Drew Fuller for 20 years.

Terry Reynolds, music vp, reminded guys to have their recording equipment ready after the break.

Dan O’Brien welcomed Jim Shoenhard and Jon Abel. Then he introduced four guests who were visiting and are possible new singers for the chapter.

During the break the guys nearly drained the coffee pot and ate every last cookie that was out!! It was cold in the hall.

We sold all the candy!

We sold a bunch more tickets for the rescheduled Presidents’ Ball – now set for Sunday, Feb. 28th. Past President Brad announced that Mark Hale was able to change his flight and can come to Alexandria for our event!

This year’s Ball, tho being held at the Rec Center, will feature several touches to make it special and still affordable. Guest speaker will be Mark Hale from the often-gold-medal Masters of Harmony in California. He is thrilled about coming to give us all a message of cheer, motivation and inspiration.

The main course will be catered. Other food items will be brought by members –
Last Name A-C bring hors d’oeuvers to go with the reception;
Last Name D-J bring salads/veggies;
Last Name K-P bring sides like vegetables or starches;
Last Name Q- Z bring desserts.
There will be a cash bar during a reception period from 6 – 6:30 pm in the lobby of Durant.

Then at 6:30 we will go into the banquet room (it won’t look anything like the usual meeting hall!). Member Pete Frank is coming down from PA to do the DJ honors for the last part of the evening. Mike Kelly’s new quartet, ENTOURAGE, will not be able to reschedule and sing for us (tho they will be competing in the M-AD prelims in Harrisburg in March).

This traditional event also will be our nite to honor men from our ranks and set the goals for next year’s team of chapter leaders. (Former members and chapter friends are also welcome to buy tickets, as well as our many brand new members.)

There are tickets left, so email Jack Pitzer to get a space for yourself, and a guest if you wish. Just $15 each. You can settle up that nite.

Craig Kujawa sent word from his post overseas that the 10 for 10 program weigh-in will be conducted by Joe Sawyer!

Jack Cameron reminded guys to pay for their fall contest photos.

Bob Blair and Bill DePuy were thanked by chapter leaders for cleaning out one of the chapter’s rental storage units and thus saving us a chunk of cash each month.

Joe thanked Dean Martin for his professional work on the podcasts.

Then we got back to singing. Tony directed the uptune again and Joe coached. The front row is continuing to develop their part of the show.

Before we left for the nite, Terry Reynolds explained the detailed new system of self evaluation for singing and visual performance. The eval forms are electronic and the evaluator response forms are also electronic. It is a massive effort to streamline the work and process.

We had a great wrap up with lots more activity such as a long line of guys getting measured by our own haberdasher, Rick Savage, so we can order new uniforms. There was a quartet singing tags with a first-time guest. Risers were stashed and another good crowd came to 815 Southside for the afterglow.

Until next time – editorjack!

(This message is prepared for your review if you were there, for your information if you had to miss, and as a historical record of the great things going on each week at an Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter meeting. —Ye Ed.)