Minutes of Sacred Harp Singings

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Camp Fasola

Camp Lee, Anniston, Alabama

June 28-July 2, 2004

Monday, June 28

7:30 p.m.—Class Singing \n Jeff Sheppard opened the second annual session of Camp Fasola leading 32t. David Ivey then welcomed the group and noted that it was exciting to have so many present. There were 107 full-time campers, including counselors and teachers. Of this number, 54 were male and 53 female; there were 61 adults, 45 (t? b?) youth—of whom 29 (t? b?) were boys and 27 were girls—and one baby. Eighteen states and one province of Canada were represented.

Based on feedback from last year’s campers, the camp program was changed slightly for 2004. The biggest change was that there were more teachers, who rotated through the classes rather than one teacher assigned to the youth and one assigned to the adults. The adults had also been divided into beginner and experienced classes, with campers choosing which class they wanted to attend. More opportunities for exercise were added, as well as more optional singing classes, and an opportunity for campers to share experiences starting new singings.

The question was asked how much noise a baby is allowed to make, and David replied that babies are a part of Sacred Harp. If a baby is drowning out teaching, maybe leave the room, but children are very much a part of Sacred Harp and should stay whenever possible.

John Plunkett led the first song, commenting that since so many denominations were present, he wanted to start with the most common hymn in the book: 49t.

Leaders: Lela Crowder and Allison Dodson 82t; Jennifer Allred 345b; LaRue Allen 187; Scott DePoy 201; Karen Ivey, Richard Ivey, Stuart Ivey, and David Ivey 217; Tim Eriksen 69b; Shelbie Sheppard 440; Karen Willard 36b; Dennis George, Tommy George, Jarrod George 300; Scott Ivey, Blake Sisemore, Jackson Harcrow, Drew Smith, and Travis Peek 384; Sam Sommers, Camp Chaplain, 316; Max Berueffy, Brooks Berueffy, Coleman Berueffy, and Turner Berueffy 146, Julie Lee, Mary Elizabeth Lee, Riley Lee, and April Dell 144; Cathryn Baker and Rachel Baker 270; Paul Figura and Shirley Figura 510; Annie Grieshop, Katy Moore, Mary Peterson, and Stephen Metcalfe-Conte 40; Don Bowen and Rodney Ivey 101t; Marvin Reeves, Annie Reeves, Amber Reeves, Brian Tanedo, and Blake Tanedo 100; Henry Schuman and B.J. Schnorenberg 354b; Christine Stevens, John Stevens, Felicia Stevens, and Emma Stevens 551; Idy Kiser, Liz Kiser, Andrew Kiser, Tony Kiser, and Caleb Kiser 312b; Thomas Willard, Keith Willard, and Jenny Willard 106; Teenie Moody and Carol Chapman 317; Roy Nelson 274t.

David Ivey ended by saying that we’d had a fine night of singing and he hoped that through the week we’d hear it getting better, and that he hoped we would finish getting around the leaders the following night. He instructed the class that they were going to be singing a lot. Some had been singing over the weekend, most would sing the following weekend, so people should take care of their voices while at camp. The devotional was given by Rev. Mary Peterson from Iowa.

Tuesday, June 29

9:00 a.m. Rudiments Sessions

After breakfast, several classes were available, all focusing on the Rudiments. David Ivey taught the youth and Richard DeLong taught adult basics.

Tim Eriksen led the morning class for experienced adults. He opened by acknowledging that he’d been teaching Sacred Harp since before he had any remote qualification, and had learned through not knowing much. One of the hardest things is finding ways to phrase things—it’s hard to know how to say even things we know well.

Tim went on to say that he is not big on music theory, but he is big on the rudiments, which are, he said, “not music, but they call music to mind.” The deepest, most important things about Sacred Harp and music more generally can’t be written down, and without the actual sound of what people were doing written down, music doesn’t make much sense. This is truer of Sacred Harp than of other kinds of music that try to notate every single thing. Unlike classical musicians, who sometimes work through theory to get to music, in Sacred Harp, theory is subservient to music. We are not working from an abstract piano in the sky, and are not thinking “what does a G sound like?” but “what does a fa sound like?” The rudiments are important because they tell us how high and how long a note should be, but you can’t notate why a note is. The singer has to learn that on their own.

Tim led the class in scales and worked on intervals, to get a sense of how thirds and fourths sound. Then he had the class hold notes—one group of people would hold fa (the tonic) while the other would hold the second, third, fourth, etc.

In a time signature, if there’s a 2 on the bottom, that represents a half note, but it can be broken up in different ways. Unless there’s a 3 on top of a time signature, leading is done by moving the arm down then up in each measure. (Unless you are leading 4 beats to the measure. It’s an interesting and important question where and when to do that.)

If there is a rest at the start of the song, the song starts when your arm moves up; if no rest, the song starts on the downbeat. Some songs in compound time are exceptions to this, starting right at the end of a measure, and it can help to beat the entire measure to start. There are many different ways to signal the end of a fermata (or hold or birds-eye), and it can be confusing. Each leader must figure out what works best for them, and observing especially good leaders is a good way to start to figure that out.

Jeannette DePoy asked Tim to talk about accenting. Tim said that he often brings a yo-yo to a singing school, because if you can walk the dog with a yo-yo, that’s the “swing” of accenting. It’s found in a lot of American music, but they try to teach you out of it in choral music and the like. As with so many things, if you put it in words, it can become another thing. If you say “do it with swing” it becomes A Thing, very much like intervals: There’s no such thing as A Third, rather there are hundreds of thirds. The term doesn’t mean anything without the feel.

He emphasized again that theory and terminology must be subservient to experience. They are simply ways to describe what we do. You get people who have heard that Sacred Harp is loud, so they just sing loud, but that’s not right. Yes, Sacred Harp is loud, but not because we are determined to make it that way.

Similarly, Tim avoided talking about the sixth in minor for years, even if people asked. Words are categories and once you shut down the bars and categorize, you lose nuance. A lot of the notes we sing aren’t what you’d hear on a piano. This note sticks out and he’s taken to calling it “Sacred Harp minor sixth”; it’s been a controversy for a long time, such that he has read that in the nineteenth century some people stopped singing minor songs altogether because of arguments over that note. How the minor sixth goes is not predictable, and that shows that this is a tradition of doing and listening, not talking about. On several songs, including 101b and 86, if you raise the sixth all the way it doesn’t sound good or sounds like a type of music other than Sacred Harp. He then had the class sing songs on 24t and 25t, the former showing how melody can turn into harmony.

10:30 a.m. Recreation and Elective Class

After the morning rudiments classes, there was a snack provided by Roy and Louise Nelson, then recreation including the rock slide, canoeing or fishing, and exercise or yoga. Additionally, Jeff Sheppard led an elective class following up on the rudiments with questions and answers.

1:15 p.m. Early Afternoon Lessons

Lunch followed recreation, and then the youth had a class on history and traditions with visiting teacher Jim Carnes, while the adults had rudiments applications. Tim Eriksen taught the basic rudiments applications class.

David Ivey started the experienced adult class with 128. He talked about our responsibilities as class singers. To have the best singing to praise God that we can, we need to be doing our jobs. After 30 (t? b?) minutes, maybe we get hot or tired, but someone still must get the song going by keying and starting the song. A person singing at the end of the day deserves a song that sounds as good as any other person, so everyone needs to sound the pitch and start singing on the first note.

Singers on the front never get to rest, ever. They have to stay with the leader, which isn’t always easy and doesn’t always mean the same thing. Occasionally, a leader may change the tempo they are marking with their hands so it may be helpful for the front bench to watch the leader’s mouth to best follow him/her. Our singing and music is not perfect. We all miss notes and tempos, but it is important to work on both.

It is the responsibility of the leader to clearly indicate repeats and of the class to watch for the leader to do that. The closer you sit to the front, the more responsibility you have.

Karen Willard asked for suggestions on how to rotate onto and off of the front bench during the course of the day. David replied that you should look at who is singing and give people courtesy. There should not be too many inexperienced singers on the front bench at one time.

Dennis George commented that he has been to singings with no men trebles other than him, so that he felt he had to stay on front. David replied that you don’t have a real Sacred Harp sound unless you have men singing treble, and that people from elsewhere need to be raising men trebles. Otherwise you may have a sound but it is not the Sacred Harp sound.

Other points raised included that singers on front benches might try to make eye contact with the leader at beginnings of verses and of fugues and that it is the responsibility of the front bench to help keep time, so if they are going to do it, it should be helpful and correct.

David noted that singers now do time changes better than was once the case, when changes were hurried through and the last measures not given proper time; then led 43 as an example.

Jerusalem, page 53, has a half rest at the beginning which doesn’t always get observed the second time through that part. Also, when there are tied measures at the end, they must be sung all the way through, including accent; 39b is a good example of this kind of song.

There are some songs with no repeat marked but where it is common for the leader to ask for a repeat. You’d have a hard time stopping a good class from repeating 76b.

Shelbie Sheppard brought up songs like 111b, stating that she was taught to sing through the notes twice, for the verse and the chorus, but now that’s not as common. David responded by noting that people in the north sometimes think that there’s a way Sacred Harp is sung in the south, but even on Sand Mountain you can drive 20 miles from one singing community to another and get a totally different thing, so there’s not even a single Sand Mountain way of singing, and they’re all good. He grew up not singing the notes on 111b through twice, so that is a regional difference.

David noted, with concurrence from Jeff Sheppard and Richard DeLong, the importance of accenting and that it seems to have declined over the years. Other points: If you don’t know a song, don’t lead it (unless you are a new singer). On 145b, observe the dotted eighth notes, don’t just sing like regular eighth notes. On 288, it’s “trav’ling” not “tra-ve-ling.” On 193, the repeat is internal only, not to be done again at the end. Songs in triple time do not always need to be sung slowly, especially 3/4.

This class was followed by more recreation, including swimming and a ropes course. Additionally, Jeff and Shelbie Sheppard taught an elective class on leading. Jeff began by telling people to be sure to let the class know what you are going to do and to observe the musical notations. Don’t try to change the song or the words. If you want different music, write it yourself. Shelbie said that there are a few exceptions that have been handed down, like singing the one part of 143 soft, or doing a tempo change in 183.

Shelbie said that though there are a few opinions on how to start a song, she thinks that the measure is completely full, so you should start at the top and end at the top. The rest is important. At the end, if you’re not repeating, hold your hand up. If you want to get rid of your book during your song, don’t drop it onto the floor. Hand it to someone.

Shelbie continued, “Don’t get up and put on a show. I love dancing but there’s a time and a place. The middle of the square is not the place.” Leaders should not try to draw attention to themselves—they’re there to direct a song. Jeff pointed out that on 143, the eighth rest needs to be observed, as the time doesn’t stop until the fermata.

Jeff Sheppard, Richard DeLong, and Karen Ivey all led songs to demonstrate that different people have different styles. Singers should not imitate, but should develop their own styles, though you can fit some aspects of other people’s styles in.

At Keith Willard’s request, some of the worst habits were described: hip-swiveling, dancing, foot-stomping (there is a difference between patting and stomping), swinging hand way back, jerking or pausing with hand, doing anything but a simple down-down-up in triple time, singing too many verses.

After another snack, the adults had a class on history and traditions with Jim Carnes, while the youth played “Sacred Harp Jeopardy” with Richard DeLong.

Even more recreation followed: crafts, games, horseshoes, and hiking.

7:30 p.m.—Tuesday Evening—Class Singing

David Ivey began the session leading 107. Sam Sommers offered prayer. Leaders: Eugene Forbes 208; Rachel Baker, Rachel Allred, Rachel Shavers, and Rachel Ivey 354b; Virginia Douglas 49b; Idy Kiser 63; Jennifer Allred and Dana Borrelli 84; Alan Pritchett and Frank Strickland 128; Kathy Vlach 441; Richard Schmeidler 66; Laura Clawson and Jeannette DePoy 176t; Allison Dodson and Lauren Hall 335; Juanita Heyerman 34t; Teenie Moody and Lynn Wilson 282; Julie Lee and Regina Grayson Parham 168; Susan Spillman and Linda Lewis 159; Brooks Berueffy, Coleman Berueffy, and Turner Berueffy 59; David Carlton 89; Alex Makris, Nate Green, and Norma Green 119; Seth Allred and Josh Lingerfelt 452; Paul Wilson, Christine Stevens, and Emma Stevens 81t; Andrew Kiser and Brian Tanedo 88t, Felicia Stevens 122; Jackson Harcrow and Travis Peek 288; Blake Sisemore and Riley Lee 99; Mary Elizabeth Lee and April Dell 155; B.J. Schnorenberg and Henry Schuman 82t; Tommy George and Blake Tanedo 300.

Following the hayride, Jeannette DePoy led the campfire devotional.

Wednesday, June 30

Richard DeLong taught a class for experienced adults. He focused on accenting, and on a few less familiar songs, including: 36t, 41, 44, 173, 205, 125, 123b, 131t, 292, and 197.

About accent, he said that imitation is second best. Singers should not imitate someone accenting, they should learn to do it. As David has said, you accent speech and should also accent singing appropriately. Accenting should be graceful like a rocking chair. It can be particularly difficult to accent with unfamiliar songs, but it is an important thing to remember to do even then.

There is a reason to the way we do things in Sacred Harp singing; don’t change things for the sake of change. Don’t sing past 3:00 p.m.; don’t lead an anthem after 2:00 p.m. or before 11:00 a.m.

Jeff Sheppard noted that when the front bench tenors ask you what verses you want to lead, they are really saying is “which one or two do you want?” That is to say, you should not answer “all of them.” To this, Richard added that when you are asked what song you want to lead, you are being told to move along. He also re-emphasized the point that the front bench singers cannot ever rest. If you want to rest, move back a row or two.

Richard discussed the importance of a good arranging committee, which can make or break a singing. The 1:00-2:00 p.m. hour is the pinnacle of the day, and you need to get things moving along. Don’t call someone 10 minutes after they arrive. Pay attention to who’s there through the day, and break up your visitors and home folks. Give some preference to your visitors, to recognize their trouble in attending. There’s a lot more to arranging than just calling names—if your local singers don’t know these things, tell them. Jeff noted that people should check over the minutes at the end of the day to be sure they’re readable and contain all required information before submitting them for publication.

The morning class was followed by a snack and recreation. The snack was set up as usual by Roy and Louise Nelson, and recreation included the rock slide, canoeing or fishing, and hiking. John Plunkett, appropriately, led an elective class on new and difficult songs.

In the afternoon, Tim Eriksen told about his experiences working on Cold Mountain and Jeff Sheppard, David Ivey, and Richard DeLong gave a panel discussion on how to pitch.

Naturally there was lots more recreation, and the campers had an elective class discussion on organizing and conducting singings.

Wednesday Evening—Class Singing

Keith Willard served as the Arranging Committee. Jeff Sheppard began the session leading 72t. Karen Willard offered prayer. Leaders: Nancy Koester and Annie Grieshop 63; Brian Tanedo, Blake Tanedo, Eugene Forbes, and Riley Hinesley 59; Laurie Dempsey and Idy Kiser 49t; Ann Webb and Jeannette DePoy 47t; Dustin Griffin and Max Berueffy 45t; Linda Lewis, Dakota Lewis, Mikaela Lewis, and Mike Lewis 40; Andrew Kiser, Tony Kiser, Caleb Kiser, and Brian Tanedo 57; Katy Moore, Rachel Baker, and Lauren Hall 80t; Alex Makris 84; Corey Griffin and Dianna Knight 49b; Stephen Metcalf-Conte 146; Amber Reeves and Blake Tanedo 144; Minja Lausevic 448b; Liz Kiser and Jackson Harcrow 388; Emma Stevens and Felicia Stevens 155; Brooks Berueffy 332; J.T. Shavers 145b; Allison Dodson 378t; Norma Green 313t; B.J. Schnorenberg and Jackson Harcrow 354b; Travis Peek and Blake Sisemore 112; Alan Pritchett 348b; Tommy George 128; Coleman Berueffy, Turner Berueffy, and Thomas Willard 124; Seth Allred 340; Drew Smith 65; Jarrod George and Josh Lingerfelt 503; April Dell 122; Riley Lee 165; Rachel Allred 29t; Rachel Ivey and Rachel Shavers 39t; Mary Elizabeth Lee 299; Rachel Baker 300; John Stevens 178; Brian Tanedo 292; Lauren Hall 186; Jennifer Allred 430; Scott DePoy 410t; Scott Ivey 454; Jackson Harcrow 282. Sam Sommers gave the devotional.

Thursday, July 1

In the morning, while David Ivey did Rudiments III for youth; Richard DeLong gave the rudiments class for adults, basics; Tim Eriksen gave a class on the voice in Sacred Harp.

In the class that Tim Eriksen taught, he described the class as kind of an experiment; it’s a good thing we don’t talk too much about music at singings because as we know, talking about music is like dancing about architecture. Things that are important for singing well include having had enough sleep, drinking water, and not being nervous. The voice-box is a muscle, which builds as you use it and gets tired if you overuse it.

How do we use our voices to sing this music and what does it mean? You can learn so much from how someone’s voice sounds. Every type of music has values about how the voice and music should sound; in Sacred Harp, what’s most important is drawing something out that’s already there, not cramming something extra in. So many people have been told that they can’t sing because they don’t sing like Mariah Carey, but if she came to a Sacred Harp singing, she’d have to make some adjustments.

As Kelly House suggested at the Western Massachusetts Sacred Harp Convention a couple years ago, Tim said to imagine a little of your voice coming out of everyone else at the singing. Individual perfection is not the way to get to good Sacred Harp singing. That should feel like riding a wave, buoyed up by the singers around you—you think you’re out of voice and then you find yourself back in it.

One of the reasons Sacred Harp may sound exotic to newcomers is precisely because the gap between singing and speaking is smaller than in classical music. It’s a less rounded sound that makes the chords lock. And it’s not something trite like “we’re all beautiful”—it really is important to have old and young and trained and untrained voices mixing. There was also some discussion of breathing and avoiding overly tired voices.

Following the usual plethora of recreation options and ample lunch, the youth worked on making posters about Sacred Harp singing.

At the same time, Jeff and Shelbie Sheppard led a class on Sacred Harp decorum and tradition. Shelbie began by emphasizing that there is not one “southern” way to do things—it used to be that every community had its own singing and there was little travel outside of your area. When different communities came together, they had to learn to compromise to the way others did things. But you can’t compromise when you hear it done wrong. “We’re protective of it, we’ve nurtured it, and it gets my bristles up when it is abused. I just want to see you do better.”

She went on to say that while some people think she and Jeff are opposed to things like Stamps-Baxter and gospel, it’s not true. She did, and still does, new-book singing and many members of her family are very active in that style of singing. People like to nit-pick things to death, but sometimes, like religion, you just have to step out on faith and enjoy it.

She stated that she was taught that you only sang out of one book at a singing, and commented on the fact that conventions, in their by-laws, stated which book was to be used, and no other songs were to be permitted.

Shelbie listed the order of events as they should occur at a singing and commented on some of the procedures: the chairman opens up with a song, followed by prayer; officers lead; a business session follows to elect officers and appoint committees; the newly elected officers lead; the new arranging committee calls leaders; sing for about one hour; have recess; resume singing; and depending on past sessions, the memorial lesson is just before or just after lunch; lunch, with a blessing on the food, either inside or at the dinner table; lunch time is limited to an hour; singing resumes; and depending on how large the crowd is will determine whether you will have a recess in the afternoon; the singing will end around 2:30 p.m. and no later than 3:00 p.m.; the singing ends with announcements about future singings; a closing song is sung as those who wish take a parting hand; and always dismiss the class with prayer.

Traditionally, when you went to church or a singing, you wore whatever clothes you had that were your best. They might not be the nicest in the world, but they were clean and the best you could do. Women never ever went in pants, and still don’t, in some places, and men never went without a tie on, and some still won’t.

Karen Ivey noted that it’s not a question of dressing to impress other people, but to set an example that we care enough to dress our best for God. What counts as dressing up may change, but you still want to show you care enough.

Regarding conduct, Shelbie went on that you don’t talk between leaders or cause commotion, holler, clap hands, and carry on. It’s disrespectful and inappropriate—years ago it was not merely frowned upon, but not permitted.

If you’re on the front bench, pay attention to how you’re sitting and how your clothes are fixed. When you get up to lead, make sure your clothes are in place or the altos will certainly notice.

With all that said, it’s not intended to scare you. The Lord didn’t intend for you to walk around with a sour face and not have any fun. It’s just about keeping your fun respectful.

Recreation followed, and then Bud and Sammie Oliver came to teach how to make lemonade. The lemonade was enjoyed by all. Shelbie Sheppard taught a class on preparing and taking lunch for singings, and provided her famous purple and pink food.

The final classes of Camp Fasola 2004 were youth posters, and otherwise a choice between Sacred Harp Resources, led by Karen Willard, and a panel discussion on organizing and teaching singing schools.

The community singing that night drew many singers from nearby (and not so nearby) communities as well as many members of the staff of Camp Lee.

7:00 p.m. Community Singing

David Ivey welcomed the singers and led 201 to bring the class to order. Sam Sommers offered prayer. Leaders: Jeff Sheppard 208; John Plunkett, Scott Ivey, Richard Ivey, and Karen Ivey 192; LaRue Allen, Lela Crowder, and Jennifer Allred 274t; Tim Eriksen and Minja Lausevic 216; Julie Lee, Riley Lee, Mary Elizabeth Lee, and April Dell 300; Dennis George, Jarrod George, Tommy George, and Josh Lingerfelt 155; Brian Tanedo, Blake Tanedo, Amber Reeves, Marvin Reeves, and Annie Reeves 218; Allison Ivey, Dana Borrelli, and Jonathan Taft 354b; Rachel Baker and Cathryn Baker 84; Brooks Berueffy, Travis Peek, and Riley Hinesley 59; Emma Stevens, Felicia Stevens, Christine Stevens, and John Stevens 551; Dalton Vines, Ryan Vines, and Cassie Franklin 47b; Liz Kiser, Katy Moore, and Mary Elizabeth Lee 159; Mikaela Lewis and Linda Lewis 503; Alex Makris, Nate Green, and Norma Green 63; Allison Dodson, Amber Reeves, and Louis Hughes 145b; Laurie Dempsey and Lynn Wilson 45t; Scott Ivey and Tony Ivey 99; Turner Berueffy and Thomas Willard 36b; Jo Pendleton, Mary Peterson, Annie Grieshop, Ellen Jackson, and Pam Helms 72b; B.J. Schnorenberg 82t; Dakota Lewis and Mike Lewis 312b; Lauren Hall 107; Jackson Harcrow, Travis Peek, and Don Bowen 282; Virginia Douglas and Karen Willard 455; Tony Kiser, Caleb Kiser, and Seth Allred 340; Rachel Ivey and Rachel Shavers 128.

RECESS

The class resumed singing with Julie Lee leading 30t. Leaders: Blake Sisemore, Blake Tanedo, Brian Tanedo, Travis Peek, Riley Lee, Jackson Harcrow, and Rodney Ivey 358; Stephen Metcalf-Conte 35; Felicia Stevens 421; Rachel Allred 452; Dianna Knight, Corey Griffin, Dustin Griffin, and Paul Wilson 277; Susan Spillman 127; Juanita Heyerman and Dan Heyerman 24b; Drew Smith, Jarrod George, and Jackson Harcrow 30b; Regina Parham, April Dell, and Mary Elizabeth Lee 148; Alan Pritchett 274t; Laura Clawson, Jeannette DePoy, and Rodney Ivey 430; Paul Figura and Shirley Figura 385b; Ann Webb and Regina Parham 48t; David Carlton 134; Idy Kiser and Andrew Kiser 388; Carol Chapman and Teenie Moody 100; Roy Nelson 283; Bud Oliver 73t; Keith Willard and Jenny Willard 318; Frank Strickland 339; Richard Schmeidler 146; Nancy Koester 479; Kathy Vlach 34b; Eugene Forbes 299; Sam Sommers and Steve Schmidt 176t; Max Berueffy and Julie Lee 70t. Announcements were made.

David Ivey led 56t as the closing song. Tony Ivey offered the closing prayer.

Friday, July 2

9:45 a.m. Parting Hand

Campers had breakfast, packed their gear, and then convened in the Ark, where they were able to visit until the final program. Certificates of participation were presented to each camper. The class, which had enjoyed this memorable time of learning and fellowship, took the parting hand.

Camp Directors—David Ivey and Jeff Sheppard; Secretary—Laura Clawson.