Last month, at a local songwriting group that I belong to, a talented friend, Beverly Meyer, presented a mini-workshop on hearing and singing harmony. While neat, I felt a little out of my depth. A week or so later, another talented friend, Robin Monterosso, came by to compare notes on a song that we’ve been working on together. Robin had reworded the bridge, and tweaked a line or two elsewhere, and I had added a mandolin part. Once we got to work though, it became apparent that Harmony is an absent skill in my musical tool belt. I hadn’t realized until then, but unless I have other harmonizers present I just sing octaves, or the same pitch, with minor flourish variations at the end of phrases.
The reason for this is likely that I never joined the school choir, didn’t attend church much, and am usually a soloist. When I do perform in groups, I’m either an instrumentalist or the only vocalist, so there hasn’t been much opportunity to develop that skill. Reasons aside, if you’ve ever heard truly outstanding harmony, especially a ballad performed by a duet, then you can imagine my desire to fix that shortcoming and turn it into a strength.
Musical growth is a funny thing. Whether you’re happy on the couch at home, or performing for thousands, it’s too easy to get into a comfort zone, and stagnate. Finding areas that you might not be able to do well, or at all, and actively working on them is not only challenging, but fun, and leads to building other skills, and upping your game in ways you never would have expected.
What areas would you like to work on and improve?
Mine? Harmony obviously, but also mandolin and lead guitar skills are the things I’m focusing on at present.
Until next time, have a great week!