As I've mentioned recently, I used to sing in a quartet.
Four women. Acapella.
We did not live close to each other geographically, but we were close friends which made the experience a most enriching one.
One gal in her 30's, one in her 40's, one in her 50's, the last in her 60's
A brunette, a redhead, one with black hair, and a blonde
Three on second marriages, one never married
Three cheerful sorts, one always a bit pissed off but a damn funny lady (this was NOT the one who was never married, by the way)
In our hotel before competition
B, D, me, T
Our quartet was part of an international women's competitive singing organization.
And it was nearing competition.
The judging categories (briefly explained):
SOUND - The Sound Judge evaluates vocal production, balance, blend, barbershop sound, and the harmonic accuracy with which notes and chords are sung.
MUSIC - The Music Judge evaluates the performance of the arrangement as well as the song and arrangement.
EXPRESSION - The Expression Judge evaluates the artistic and synchronized delivery of musical language.
SHOWMANSHIP - The Showmanship Judge evaluates the degree of rapport established with the audience through the visual salesmanship of the musical product.
Every note, word, phrase, breath, vowel, diphthong, "look," etc. must beperfect.
In order to best evaluate your own performance, every quartet member records every minute of every rehearsal which then allows you to listen to each little nuance and find where improvements must occur. This is very hard on the self-esteem but you owe it to your quartet to be very honest and critical of your own voice. A quartet requires a tremendous amount of time (both in group rehearsals and the hours spent by yourself pounding out notes and practicing) and money (all members spend hundreds of dollars as they must have several matching outfits, including shoes, jewelry, hair items, and even undergarments!). It is a commitment and all members must count on each other to be as committed as the next gal.
But we were solid as friends and therefore, this was our soft place to fall. It was the first quartet for two of us and that comfort was necessary in order to be successful.
Our quartet decided that since we lived so far apart, it would be beneficial to have a full weekend of rehearsals and thus, we met in the somewhat-middle at a home in San Francisco for a weekend of hard work.
So we met up Friday evening and rehearsed for a few hours before calling it a night. Then we were once again working our little bumpers off that Saturday morning starting at 9:30. We took a quick break for lunch and got back to it until another quick, ordered-in dinner.
Finally, at 10:00, we thought it was enough work for one day and we decided that although it wasn't great for the vocal chords, we'd celebrate with a cocktail. Welllll, we had several but it was just such a release after such a stressful, hard-worked day. We laughed a lot and sang stuff just for fun, told stupid jokes and just had a great ol' time. By the time we went to bed it was after midnight!
Well, they went to bed. I snuck back out into the living room where everyone's tape recorders were. I quickly gathered up everyone's little electronic self-esteem-crushers and hit the record buttons.
In my silly, goofy, um...drunk voice, I leaned into the recorders and whispered, "Hi guys! It's me! I just wanted to say that I love you guys and I'm having such a great time being with all of you. We're gonna kick ass at competition!! Anyway, that's all. I love you guys! Oh, it's March 14, at 12:34. Hey! The clock says 1-2-3-4! Hahahaha! That's funny! 1. 2. 3. 4. Hahahaha!!! Get it? Hahahaha!! OK, I love you guys!"
And so, ever since then, every single time I see a digital clock at 12:34, I stop and take a moment to think of my friends.
I have made so many lovely friends here on OS and so when that clock hits 12:34, I think of you. And so this post is dedicated to you.