From controlling breathing, to projecting your voice, and singing all parts of a three-part harmony, Pharis Romero rocked the souls of 50 singers with her vocal workshop Saturday.
Romero started out by teaching the basics of learning to relax and breathing from the diaphragm, which likely served as a refresher for many of the experienced choir singers, but was good information for newcomers to the singing world.
Held at the Central Cariboo Arts Centre the workshop participants developed new skills while concentrating on mastering several new songs together, including one that involved yodelling.
Strumming her guitar and having participants listen to her sing the subtle nuances in the songs, Pharis had lots of valuable information to share about singing in the folk/blues/country style that won her and husband Jason a JUNO Award last year for their album A Wanderer I’ll Stay.
She had everyone break into groups and take turns singing all parts of a three-part harmony in songs they learned: melody, tenor and baritone parts.
Even if a singer doesn’t normally sing harmony she said the exercise is good practice because it gives singers an understanding of the work being done by the other singers harmonizing in a band or choir.
She taught the group how to slide the pitch of their voices slowly up or down to find the note they would be starting on for their particular part.
She also taught the group how to feel the sound vibrations in their bodies as they moved from low notes projected from the chest to high notes projected from the sinus cavities in the head, thus reducing strain on the vocal chords.
She introduced tricks for staying relaxed when reaching for notes outside of their normal comfort range, including bending over from the waist, head down to reach for the high notes.
The group learned beautiful old songs like Dark Moon, Troubled About My Soul, and I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow, with yodelling on Way Out There thrown in for good measure.
At the end of the session Pharis took the time to sing some of the songs on the song sheet that participants didn’t get to sing during the workshop so that they could record them to learn at home.
All in all it was a fun event with a potluck lunch the only break in a six hour day of constant singing.
Participants definitely wanted another workshop with Pharis in future.