Mudcat Café message #858647 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #55223   Message #858647
Posted By: Don Firth
04-Jan-03 - 03:22 PM
Thread Name: Using a music stand
Subject: RE: Using a music stand
A folding music stand is very handy, and actually the easiest way to keep sheet music or crib sheets within your range of vision. The only people I know who even notice that someone is using a music stand are folkies, generally the ones who feel that if you know something about music, you can't be a folkie.

In the Fifties and Sixties I developed a repertoire of several hundred songs, all committed to memory, and I sang them regularly (i.e., forty, fifty, sixty songs several times a week, rotating the songs to keep them all fresh).   I did this for ten or twelve years, without benefit of music stand. I could do most of these songs in my sleep (which, in itself, could constitute a problem, but that's another matter).

But in the intervening decades, sometimes many months would go by when I didn't sing at all. Songs fade. Now, I find that some songs that I sang hundreds of times back then sit precariously in my memory. This is not necessarily creeping senility, it's just that I haven't sung some of them for years. Now, I have no qualms about keeping a notebook handy. I don't read the words as I'm singing. Whenever needed (which, fortunately, is not very often), I glance quickly at the words without breaking rhythm and keep right on singing. If this offends anyone, that's too bad. I think I've paid my dues, thank you!

What does get me grinding my teeth is when someone comes to a song circle with an armload of books, then says, "I just discovered this song yesterday, and I don't know the words yet and I'm not sure of the tune, but—" and then they expect you to sit there and suffer with them as they fumble and mumble for the next ten minutes. That's just being a slob. Another tooth-grinder is song circles that insist on using Rise Up Singing as if it were a hymnal.

Principle:—Do not attempt to sing a song before others until you have memorized it and have sung it all the way through at least two dozen times—from memory, without book or song-sheet—over a period of at least a week, preferably two. Then, you're ready. If, for one reason or another, you feel that your memory might be a touch precarious, keep the words in a handy notebook. Don't read the words while you are singing. If necessary, glance quickly at the words, and keep right on singing.

Yes, Pavarotti and others do use sheet music from time to time, sitting unobtrusively on a music stand, but this is usually when they are singing songs that they don't normally do very often. Nothing unprofessional about that. It would be a helluva lot more unprofessional to blow a song in front of an audience, especially on national TV.

Don Firth