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Home > Main > Postyr Project – Time in the Rehearsal Room

Postyr Project – Time in the Rehearsal Room

by Tine Fris, Postyr Project

Tine in NYC, 2009

 

2012. A whole new year. It’s like a blank piece of paper, just waiting to be filled out with new adventures, experiments, and thoughts. I guess, it comes as no surprise, that Postyr Project couldn’t keep all that space empty for long. We had our first meeting and rehearsal this week, where we had a chance to talk a lot of things over, make some decisions and work with some new music. Already, there is so much to tell, but today I will focus on the one thing that both Line, Anders, Andreas, Kristoffer and I had on top of our wishing-list for 2012: Time in the rehearsal room.

While most of 2011 was spent in the studio and on the road, we have decided that at least the first half of 2012 should more or less be spent in the rehearsal room. Of course, there will still be time for a few concerts and some studio-sessions, but the main topic, the main focus, will be on the musical process and not the final product.

Rehearsals
We always start our rehearsals with a brief talk, where every one can get a chance to say what ever they have on there mind. Things having been the way the have lately, these brief talks have had a tendency of turning in to long discussions of both important personal and organizational matters. Necessary talks, but with the consequence, that there weren’t much time left to actually sing. As of now, we have decided to separate business briefings and rehearsals. We still hold on to the brief personal updates in the beginning of the rehearsal each Wednesday, but leave the business briefings to our new Monday-noon Skype meetings. So from now on our rehearsals are structured like this:

1) Setting up all the microphones, the computer, the in-ear monitors etc.
2) Personal briefing. A couple of minutes pr. person.

Five voices, one laptop...and one guitar.

3) Warm up.
4) Working on new material.
5) Working on old material pinning out particularly challenging phrases focusing on one parameter at the time, just like we have been taught by The Real Group;-)

We try to keep our cell-phones and pending emails off, while rehearsing. The rest of the world can wait -at least until there is a break.

Now let me go a bit deeper into the warm up.

Warm-ups
At the moment one we focus on two things in our warm-ups:

1) Improving our physical posture.

The goal is to balance the muscle power and flexibility on the front and back of the body and on the right and left side, so we can

a) breath more easily
b) release muscles that had previously been used for keeping us upright to keep our breath control more steady.
c) maintain a steady intonation no matter the duration, volume or pitch.
d) gain a more balanced and rich resonance.
e) connect with our inner power and find peace and grounding, so we can open up to our feelings and emotions in the music without feeling insecure.

2) Improving our blend and intonation.

The goal is to balance the timbres of the five voices even more and to get a deeper understanding of the harmonies we sing, so we can balance the chords better. We do that by

a) improving or physical posture
b) knowing the songs and each other very well, so we won’t be too nervous on stage.
c) practicing with our in-ears almost every time we rehearse, so we can adjust with the special head resonance you get from the ear-plugs.
d) and of course by doing a lot of “classic” intonation and blend exercises.
e) singing the difficult phrases over and over again, making small changes, talking about what we hear, which notes should be louder here? And here
f) adjusting the sounds of the vowels, so they match the vowels of the voices we are linked to in a particular phrase.
g) adjusting the way we begin the note. Is it with air? Without air, but soft? Without air, but hard?

At some point we will change our focus to other areas like time, emotional expression or performance, and when we think, we are done, we will just start all over again. That’s the beauty of it, you can always improve as an individual and as a group. The sky is the limit, you just got to keep moving forward.

Best, Tine

Tine Fris is a member of the Danish vocal group Postyr Project, an very successful teacher and vocal coach and seems to be simply everywhere composing, arranging, teaching, singing and networking. It’s so great to have her as a co-blogger here on Vocal Blog to write hands-on articles of practical use with a little glimpse behind the scenes of a group of hard-working musicians from vocal music Mecca, Aarhus/DK. Be sure to check out Postyr’s website, Facebook fanpage and Twitter channel and if you are a singer, vocal group or choir, don’t miss an opportunity to meet Tine as a teacher and coach.

  1. Joakim S
    9. Januar 2012, 13:23 | #1

    Really interesting reading!

    Could you give some examples of what a personal briefing could contain? Is it everything from “I’ve slept really bad this last few days since…” or is it more in the style of “I believe we should focus more on…”. Perhaps both?

  2. 9. Januar 2012, 14:25 | #2

    Hi Joakim,

    thank you for commenting. There are no rules for the personal briefings, it is like the status updates that you give on Facebook, but with more or less unlimited length;-) However, we try to handle the BIG questions like “What kind of music should we do?”, “What is our musical focus for the next 6 months” and “Should we engage with this business partner?” to the all-day meetings we have every once in a while. In August we actually talked about stuff like that for three FULL days! In January, we could do with just one day:-)

    Okay, back to the brief updates: Sometimes people have a lot to say, maybe something happened in their family that affects in a positive or negative way, maybe something particularly exciting happened since our last meeting on a personal or professional level. And sometimes it just about coffee or a good movie.

    For instance, we did a concert in my hometown in December, it was wonderful, but also kind of nerve-wrecking to me for a number of different reasons, that I can’t go into here. During the sound check I told the rest of the group to bear with me, because I was a little on the edge, and at the next rehearsal I got a chance to tell them, how happy I was, that they are always there for me, and that we can trust each other, the way we can.

    Another example was earlier this fall, where Andreas was in a very stressful situation, because he was moving to a new home, and all kinds of unthinkable obstacles had accured. On top of that he was in the process of making some big decisions about his job situation etc, etc, etc. All in all, he needed to take a little time off to get on top of things, which he could do, because the rest of the group was more or less prepared that it would be nessecary thanks to the weekly personal briefings, where he had expressed what was going on.

    I think communication is a keyword in maintaining a healthy group dynamic. When things are moving fast at the office, when you are on the road with out sleeping and eating properly and missing your family and friends, when you are pushed into making big decisions about something that you hardly know anything about, THAT’S when you need time to talk to each other, and THAT’S the time where it is the most difficult to actually do so in relaxed and open minded way. Hopefully, these brief talks in the beginning of the rehearsals will help us to maintain some common ground and give us deeper understanding of the underlying thoughts behind our choices and opinions.

    Best wishes, Tine

  3. 9. Januar 2012, 17:41 | #3

    Hey Tine,

    I actually had the same question as Joakim so thanks for that great answer. It sounds like you have a really healthy group-dynamic going on, which I think is really special and also necessary for being in a band together on a long term basis. Now if I remember correctly, you guys have known each other for some time, also before Postyr existed, so probably there was already some level of trust between you guys.

    Could you explain how your briefings got started, or do you maybe have tips on how to start such a habit when that level of trust is not yet present in your group?

    Thanks, RJ

  4. 10. Januar 2012, 11:27 | #4

    Hey Robert-Jon,

    yes, it is true that Line, Andreas, Kristoffer and I have all known each other for years as singers of Vocal Line and as fellow students at The Royal Academy of Music and Aarhus University. Naturally, we brought a lot of the Vocal Line social culture with us, and over the years, we have become very close friends. However, working with Postyr has showed, that you actually need give a lot of focus to the social structure and communication with in the group to find the right balance between friendship and the professional relationship.

    I think this could actually be a subject of whole new blog -I will get to it, when I can find the time:-) – but here is a little teaser…

    I guess, the first thing is to establish a common understanding, that group dynamics are important, if not the MOST important thing in the group. If you don’t take care of it and make sure that you have common ground under your feet, odds are that the group will collapse, when things are starting to roll, and the pressure on all levels gets higher and higher.

    I think “trust” is a keyword here. “Time” is another one. Trust develops over time. It is not just something you can decide to have, you need to achieve it. You need to show that you are trust worthy. You also need to show the rest of the group that you not only trust them with you success stories, but also little by little with the tough stuff and with the professional assignments, that you took upon your shoulders, and for some reason found too heavy. A place to start the talk could be answering this question: “What do I love about being part of this group?”Give every a few minutes each to say, what they think. Write it down with out judging it. Move on to the next one. Same procedure. Etc. Sum it up and talk about the result. Maybe you agree, maybe you don’t. What do you think about that? Next question: “What do I see as my own strengths in this group? AND where can I learn/be inspired from someone else in the group?”

    Another thing you could do, is to do a lot of team-buliding games (actually, Kristoffer and are working on a book with 101 games/and exercises to break the ice and get to know each other better while working with music at the same time)

    And another thing you could do, is to go away for a rehearsal weekend or week together, where you sleep and eat and sing and go for a walk and just hangout with a bottle of red wine.

    But… I think, I will dedicate a new blog to this subject. I can already see, there is a lot to tell:-)

    See you, Tine

  5. 10. Januar 2012, 21:40 | #5

    Hey Tine,

    Thanks so much, I really love reading your insights on this subject. Up to now I have not yet been in a group where there was such a common understanding about the importance of group dynamics. Even though I personally think it’s massively important. (I actually think Dutch culture plays a big role in this as well.)

    Anyhow, I’m planning to start a new group this year but I am clueless on how to get the right group dynamic going. So a book with icebreakers from your hand really sounds like it could be very helpful! As well as just reading your thoughts and tips about it, so I’d love to see a full blog on the subject.

    Thanks again and I’m looking forward to picking your brain some more!
    Cheers, rj

  6. 11. Januar 2012, 20:51 | #6

    Hi Tine,

    Wonderful article! I am starting a new group and find everything you’ve written so amazingly helpful as I embark on this journey. One thing I’m wondering is what kinds of ‘classic’ blend and intonation exercises YOUR group uses- I have a stable of more choral exercises that I can use, but I wonder how (and if) you modify these warmups to suit the more contemporary style of your music? Any ideas or samples of your warmups would be wonderful!! thanks again for this fantastic article- I hope there are more soon!

    -C

  7. 12. Januar 2012, 15:27 | #7

    Hi Christopher,

    I am very happy, that you found the article helpful. We have a lot of different approaches to working on blend and intonation, and I would love to share it with you. I just to Line about it, and it so happens, that she has a lot of the exercises written down, so they should be easy to post right here at vocal-blog soon (i.e. when we come home to Denmark after an inspiring weekend at London A Cappella Festival. I guess, this could also be a topic for a whole new blog? I’ll keep it in mind and get too it soon. Until then, stay tuned here at vocal-blog: help is on it’s way:-)

    Best, Tine

  8. 13. Januar 2012, 14:11 | #8

    People of Planet A Cappella!
    This is why I love doing this SOOOO much.
    Please give me more of this: Passion. Openness. Excitement.
    Plus: Hand-on learnings, insights, tipps and tricks.
    Thanks, Tine Fris – hope you’ll be back with more of that great stuff.
    FSt/Chief Listening Officer (from my London A Cappella Festival office)

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