What do I need to be able to do?
Can I really come along and sing with Sacred Harp Bremen without any previous knowledge or ability?

Um, ahem, yes – well, perhaps not quite.

First of all, here’s what you don’t have to master:

Singing. You learn this over time, just by trying to figure out what’s going on. We’ve built up a good, solid Sacred Harp sound by now – a few insecure voices in the mix won’t be noticed. Besides, we don’t have to prove anything to anyone. We don’t perform, nobody pays to hear professional choral singing from us. No performance also means no rehearsal – what you hear is what you get, and then on to the next song.

Reading music. It just takes time to learn. The shapes do make it easier, but it won’t happen overnight.

Beating time and leading. If you have to work hard to be able to sing along with a few notes, you can forget about all the hand-waving at first. No one has to stand in the middle and “lead”, and nobody has to beat time. At some point, once singing is less of an effort, and the shapes indicate the sounds by themselves, then one can also deal with beating time and leading.

And now, here’s what you should be able to do: persevere! It might be frustrating; it might feel like being thrown off the deep end, but as the song goes, “bear the toil, endure the pain” – hold out, despite not being able to do everything straight off, perfect the first time. It’s worth it.

If you’ve never sung in a choir before, or played from sheet music on an instrument, you really have a lot to learn – a lot – before you can sing music at sight. It’s the same for someone like me, when I’m studying physics (something that I’m very interested in, although I learned almost nothing at school). I have to deal with the fact that I know very little about physics and that it takes a long time and I find it difficult to learn new things. But because it’s so interesting and because it stimulates me, I hold out – persevere – and continue to learn, at the pace that I can. That’s basically how it works.

So, newbies, do not be discouraged. If the music fires you up, if singing excites you, stick with it! But first, come in – get started here.