Fascinating Rhythm Insights: Enhancing performance through vocal expression

Fascinating Rhythm Insights: Enhancing performance through vocal expression

The Repertoire

Fascinating Rhythm has a diverse repertoire of songs well-suited to our style of a cappella singing. From show tunes like “City of Stars”, “This Is Me” and “Feeling Good” to a ten-part arrangement of ELO’s “Mr Blue Sky”, we have songs for every occasion, and we love to share them with our audiences at concerts and competitions. 

Creating the classic harmonic barbershop sound is a key part of our craft, but Fascinating Rhythm also tries to connect emotionally with a song to give a more authentic performance. As well as using movement to enhance the song’s meaning, we express the emotions behind the lyrics and music using our voices and just as with visual performance, achieving unity in our vocal sound is an important aspect of making a song entertaining.

Professional vocal trainer Karen, our pitch-perfect Baritone Section Leader and trainee LABBS Singing Judge, has kindly agreed to share her top hints and tips for adding some vocal ‘wow’ to any song:

What is vocal expression? 

The Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers  (LABBS) promotes a cappella four-part harmony singing in the barbershop style. Under competition conditions, LABBS singing category  judges are looking to “…evaluate the degree to which the performer achieves artistic singing in the barbershop style […] through precise intonation, a high degree of vocal skill, a high level of unity and consistency within the ensemble as well as the use of the vocal expression.”

The five key elements of barbershop singing are:

– Intonation – precise harmonic tuning and staying in pitch

– Vocal quality – well-supported, freely-produced, resonant and accurate singing

– Unity within the ensemble – synchronisation and precision, matched vowel sounds, good diction and articulation 

– Expansion and ring – well-sung chords and a balanced sound 

– Vocal expression – nuance, dynamics, tone ‘colour’ and use of artistic effects

So, vocal expression is just as much a part of the barbershop style as singing in harmony and in tune, breathing effectively and using the voice as a musical instrument.

How do I ‘do’ vocal expression?

Vocal expression covers a range of techniques you can use to make a song sound more interesting:

– Dynamics are about volume – that is, how loudly or quietly you are singing. You can vary your volume across the whole of a song, across a particular phrase, or even within a single word.

– Tone colour is made up of the resonance of your voice, your vocal placement (for example, throaty or nasal) and the timbre (combination of frequencies) that make up your vocal sound.

– Vocal quality describes a spectrum of effects from airy whispering to a brassy, edgy, forced sound. You can change your vocal quality from one word to another or across whole phrases. 

There are also artistic effects that can be added to a song. 

– Moments of silence, audible breaths or adding vibrato to a word (a purposeful ‘tremor’ in the voice) can emphasise an emotional thought 

– Diphthongs change the vowel sound part-way through a word (so ‘night’ becomes ‘nah-eet’); whereas ‘pre-thongs’ (a concept we learned from Frenzy quartet ) add a vowel sound to the beginning of a word (so ‘whenever’ becomes ‘oo-weh-nn-eh-ver’)

– Hard consonants (like ‘c’, ‘b’ or ‘d’) can be used to emphasise the start or end of a word, whilst ‘singable’ consonants (like’ n’ or ‘m’) add a musical softness.

– The way you start a word can also be made more interesting by using a glottal stop for a hard onset or an aspirate, breathy sound for a softer onset.

How can I improve my vocal expression?

One of the best ways to improve your vocal expression is to listen to other singers and choirs from a variety of genres and take inspiration from what they do. Have a think about what effect their vocal expression is creating and whether or not it is working. Then try playing around with your voice, recording yourself and listening back to see how you sound. 

By testing things out and finding what feels right, you can internalise and practise the techniques for vocal expression until you can replicate them more naturally. The more you practise, the more you can expand the capabilities of your voice as an instrument. You might even choose to ask a vocal coach to help you work on certain aspects of your singing technique.

Sprinkling on the glitter!

You can think of a song as being like an artwork: notes and words are the pencil lines; dynamics and nuance provide the shading; tone colour adds the colours; and artistic effects are the glitter sprinkled on top! 

However, whilst we love a bit of glitter, adding too much would smother the artwork and ruin it. So, consider using artistic effects sparingly for the best impact. 

At Fascinating Rhythm, we put just as much work into our vocal expression as we do our visual performance. We talk about the emotional story of a song and the vocal techniques that help us to express it, so we can help each other to give a unified, authentic performance. We love using our voices to connect with and entertain our audiences, but the most magical and rewarding moments come when they are so caught up in a song, they don’t notice us sprinkling on the glitter!

Celebrating 35 Years of LABBS Membership

Celebrating 35 Years of LABBS Membership

Ali Jack LABBS Long Service Award

Celebrating 35 Years of LABBS Membership – One of Fascinating Rhythm’s founding members, Ali Jack, has reached the incredible milestone of being a member of the Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers (LABBS) for 35 years!

LABBS has recognised Ali’s dedication to barbershop singing with a long-service award badge and certificate presented to Ali at home by her partner, Pete. Although Fascinating Rhythm was not able to celebrate with them in person, we did raise our virtual glasses to toast Ali’s amazing achievement during our annual awards and AGM on Zoom.

Ali is a central member of Fascinating Rhythm – quite literally, as she stands right in the middle of the risers on the back row! She is our Chorus Manager, a fabulous section leader for our Tenors, and always ready to keep us in tune with her pitch pipe.

We asked Ali to share some reflections on her barbershop journey…

How did you get started with singing barbershop?

I grew up in a musical family, singing with my mum and sisters. Mum played the piano, and the four of us would sing together in harmony. My sisters sang Soprano, and I sang Alto.

Then, I sang in a trio/four with friends from the local church, making up harmonies with guitar accompaniment. I also sang in a local choir, and a lady from the choir introduced us to four-part harmony by sharing an arrangement of the traditional barbershop standard “The Story of the Rose (Heart Of My Heart)”. She encouraged us to audition for the Bristol-based barbershop chorus AvonBelles (now known as Avon Harmony). Three of us (me, Donna and Claire) joined AvonBelles, where I became the Baritone section leader and sang with them for about ten years.

Through AvonBelles, Donna and I set up a barbershop quartet. We were three Baritones and a Bass, so I agreed to try out a different voice part, and that’s how I started singing Tenor!”

How did Fascinating Rhythm get started?

“Donna and I were looking for a new challenge, so we started to meet with a group of like-minded singers in the back room of a pub in Chipping Sodbury. We called ourselves ‘Rainbow’ because one of the ladies in the group said, ‘singing is like a rainbow, giving you hope because there’s always a pot of gold at the end’.

After a while, we decided to change our name because there was another group in the area called Rainbow, so we drew suggestions out of a hat, and the winner was Fascinating Rhythm!”

What is your best LABBS moment?

“I’ve sung with lots of quartets and groups, but the best moment was definitely winning the Gold medal at LABBS Convention with Havoc.

Donna and I had sung in a quartet, which had folded when we met Linda (Musical Director of the Great Western Chorus), who introduced us to Jo (who is now Fascinating Rhythm’s Musical Director ). We practised in my house, and our first ‘performance’ was to my lodger (at the time), who thought we sounded quite good.

As Havoc, we entered the Irish Association of Barbershop Singers annual Convention 2003 and won! From there, we were encouraged to join LABBS, and we went on to win the Bronze medal (2005), Silver (2006) and Gold (2007)!

In our ‘Gold Year, ’ we were so lucky to represent LABBS at the USA International Convention at Anaheim, got to meet Dick Van Dyke, and we even sang at Disneyland.”

What has been your favourite Fascinating Rhythm moment so far?

“The first time Fascinating Rhythm went to LABBS Convention, we took part in the ad hoc Sunday morning show which was a fun moment. We did a comedy skit called “What a Load of Nunsense” where we dressed as nuns and sang “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?” and “Eidelweiss” from “The Sound of Music”. Thelma made our costumes!

I feel so proud when I sit out and see how the chorus has grown in numbers and what we have achieved over the years from just five of us getting together for a sing.”

What have you missed most about singing over the past year?

“For me, singing is about feeling the music and being part of it. I like being in the middle of the back row on the risers and hearing the sound all around me.

I also like it at Convention when people are queueing up for food, and someone starts a song and then everyone joins in. Singing is something that is available to everyone.”

And finally, what are you most looking forward to about getting back to rehearsals?

“I’m looking forward to hearing the sound, Fascinating Rhythm makes. It will be emotional to hear the harmony. My favourite chorus song is “And So It Goes”, which my partner Pete arranged for us. I am looking forward to hearing that song again.

And I’m looking forward to hugging my Fascinating Rhythm friends (once it’s safe to do so).”

Thanks, Ali, and congratulations on your Long Service Award! Celebrating 35 Years of LABBS Membership. We are so proud of you and cannot wait to get back on the risers with you!

Fascinating Rhythm Insights: Making your performance authentic

Fascinating Rhythm Insights: Making your performance authentic

Making your performance authentic

Fascinating Rhythm has a diverse repertoire of show tunes, popular modern songs and jazz numbers, and a few seasonal and sacred songs and even a vocal version of a ballet movement!

Some of our show songs are fully choreographed, all-singing-all-dancing numbers, whereas our ballads are much more sensitive and heartfelt. Whatever we’re singing, we want to connect with our audiences and give them an entertaining musical experience.  

Our fabulous Assistant Director, Wendy, is also our chorus Choreographer. With a dance and percussion background, Wendy is inspiring, enthusiastic, and always encouraging us to make our performances more believable and engaging. Here are her top tips for authenticity:

Performance matters 

Barbershop singing has a strong visual element and iconic four-part a cappella harmony, and the way we perform songs is a key aspect of our craft. 

Performance is about ‘giving life’ to a song – making it believable and entertaining. Performances can be creative and dynamic, but they must match the song’s vocal message, and all singers should present a unified message about the song’s meaning. 

As explained by the Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers (LABBS) “The Performance Judge is hoping to see and hear sincere, from the heart performances into which […] the audiences are drawn.” 

Getting ready to sing

Over the past few years, the barbershop world has moved towards a musical theatre performance style, inspired by David Brunetti’s ‘Acting Songs’ approach. In musical theatre, songs form part of the story; they help with the storytelling and flow in and out of the actors’ spoken performances. 

However, when Fascinating Rhythm stands on stage to sing a song as part of a concert or a variety show, we perform without a storyline. To give an authentic performance, we must connect with the story behind the song we’re about to sing. If we understand the song’s essence, we should all give the same heartfelt performance.

We can do this by thinking about three things:

1. Who are you as the person singing this song?

2. Why are you singing this song – what is it about?

3. What has just happened – why are you singing this song now?

What are you singing about?

One way to really understand a song is to read the lyrics aloud as if they were a monologue. In barbershop-style arrangements, the lyrics are usually found in the Lead line, with the harmony parts (Tenor, Baritone and Bass) picking up more melodic aspects of the music. It can be hard to connect with the meaning of a song if you’re singing ‘dm-dm-dm’ or ‘ooh-ooh’ rather than words! But if every member of the chorus knows the story behind the song, we can all connect with it.

What if the song doesn’t have a clear storyline? How can we connect with it and give an authentic performance? If lyrics don’t drive a song, it can be tricky to connect with its meaning, but we can instead focus on the musical elements.

Songs usually fit into one of five themes, according to the strongest element of the arrangement. 

– Lyric songs are driven by the words or the story being told

– Melodic songs have a strong tune (usually in the Lead line)

– Harmonic songs feature the chord structure of the music

– Rhythmic songs are all about the beat, and they make you want to dance or tap your feet

– Comedy or novelty songs are funny!

Our performance journey

Fascinating Rhythm is known for bold and innovative performances and bringing new bespoke arrangements to the LABBS Convention stage. Over the years, we’ve put full choreography, and dance moves to up-tempo numbers and even added streamers and party-poppers to the final bars of South Rampart Street Parade! We’ve also experimented with the ‘fourth wall’ in on-stage performances and tried standing completely still to add tension to sacred songs and tragic ballads.

“Meet You At The Moon” (Harrogate, 2018), arranged by Liz Garnett, had an easy storyline that we all connected with. Subtle chorus moves from the risers complemented the mother-daughter story featuring Jo and Karen. It was effective and authentic because every member of the chorus could draw on their own personal experience of familial love and sing from the heart.

In contrast, “You Don’t Own Me” (Bournemouth (2017), also arranged by Liz Garnett, was a strong and sassy up-tune with great choreographic moves. The romantic ballad “City of Stars” (Llandudno, 2019), another fabulous Liz Garnett arrangement, had a surprise free-feeling rhythmic section in the middle that naturally lent itself to more dance-like movement. 

Although we can’t take a competition package to the Convention this year, we have two fantastic songs lined up, ready to work on once we’re allowed back to rehearsals. We’re making good use of our Zoom rehearsals to immerse ourselves in the lyrics so that we can develop a truly authentic performance to enhance our singing and musicality.

Putting authenticity into practice

The great thing about authenticity is that you can practise it anytime, anywhere – even if you’re singing alone at home! Whatever the song you’re rehearsing, spend a minute before you sing thinking about who you are, why you’re singing the song, and what has just happened to make you sing it. The main thing is to try to really connect with the song and the music and sing it from the heart. Even focusing on one of these questions will enhance your performance authenticity.

Fascinating Rhythm Insights: why singing is good for you!

Fascinating Rhythm Insights: why singing is good for you!

Why singing is good for you!

Fascinating Rhythm is a barbershop chorus, which means we love making music with our voices, but Fascinating Rhythm isn’t just about singing – it’s about fun, friendship and feeling good. We can’t wait until it’s safe to return to rehearsals because there’s something really special about being part of Fascinating Rhythm that can lift a dark mood or release tension after a tough day. 

Did you know that, in addition to the beautiful harmony and the friendship that comes from being part of a choir, there are several health benefits associated with singing ? We’ve asked our resident medic, Dr Hannah, to explain why singing is so good for our health and wellbeing.

Singing feels good

As humans, we are social creatures that thrive on being connected to each other. Being part of a group is good for our emotional wellbeing and has a positive impact on our physical and mental health. Our ability to make social bonds is an important part of what makes us human.

Group singing builds social connections really well, and the social bonding among choir members happens more quickly than with other hobbies. For many of our members, Fascinating Rhythm is like an extended family, and our strong social bond has seen 20-30 members Zoom into virtual rehearsals each week over the past year. And this connection has encouraged our three newest members, who joined Fascinating Rhythm just a few weeks before the first lockdown, to stick with us online!

The other great thing about singing is that it releases endorphins, which are chemicals in our bodies that give us a ‘high’ (similar to how you might feel after a run but without getting hot and sweaty)! Endorphins reduce pain sensation and increase pleasure, so they make us feel good. Activities that release endorphins are good for our physical and mental health and wellbeing.

No wonder singing feels really good for us!

Singing is good for our health.

Singing involves lots of muscles in our bodies. When we warm-up for rehearsal, we include some physical activity like shoulder rolls and stretches, as well as breathing exercises for our abdominal muscles. It can be quite a physical work out! A long rehearsal can be quite physically tiring, but singing builds our stamina and muscle tone.

What’s more, singing is good for our posture. We stand with good spinal alignment, soft knees, and relaxed shoulders, and rehearsals usually involve a lot of standing up! Being sedentary is bad for our bodies, but the lockdown has reduced our opportunities to move around during the day and take regular outdoor exercise. By standing to sing, we change our posture and engage different muscles, and barbershop singing involves physical movement to the music, which adds to the exercise benefits.

It almost goes without saying that singing is also good for our lungs and breathing. The British Lung Foundation has found that singing can help people to:

– breathe more slowly and more deeply

– improve breath control (and reduce feelings of anxiety and panic)

– improve posture to breathe more efficiently

Indeed, the English National Opera is running a breathing and wellbeing programme for people who are recovering from Covid. It uses singing techniques for breathing training to improve breathlessness and reduce feelings of anxiety.

There is also evidence to suggest that singing can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol and boost our immune systems by increasing levels of immunoglobulins that help fight disease!

Singing is good for the brain.

Singing is mentally stimulating because you have to think about notes, music and words all at the same time. Then, if you add in the four-part harmonies, a cappella (unaccompanied) singing and any choreography or movements to a song, barbershop singing becomes a whole-brain workout!

The human brain has a tremendous capacity to learn and remember songs and music. Our ability to learn new music is quite astonishing – whilst new members of our chorus often feel nervous about getting up to speed on the whole Fascinating Rhythm repertoire, most find that they can pick it up within a matter of months!

Not only that but music and singing are another part of what makes us human, and they persist in people’s memories. For example, dementia classes that use singing  have been shown to improve wellbeing, maintain cognition and increase social connectivity through participation.

Post-Covid recovery

With so many benefits for our physical and mental health and wellbeing, perhaps singing could be the perfect post-lockdown activity? 

Over the past year, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted many of our social bonds and networks. Many people will have experienced feelings of persistent anxiety, fatigue and isolation, and those who’ve been ill with covid-19 may also have long-lasting symptoms like brain fog and breathing difficulties. 

Certainly, once it is safe for us to do so, Fascinating Rhythm are looking forward to getting back on the risers together for a jolly good sing!

And if you’d like to join us, we’d love to hear from you – please get in touch via our website  to find out how to become part of our Fascinating Rhythm family.

Or if you’d just like to have a go at singing from home, why not buy our CD of warm-up exercises  and sing along?

2020 AGM and Awards

2020 AGM and Awards

2020 AGM and Awards

Fascinating Rhythm has started the new year by celebrating the best of 2020 and looking forward to a better 2021.

On Thursday 21 January, we held our AGM and awards night. Under normal circumstances, we’d have combined this with a dinner and social evening, but not even a lockdown could stop us from having fun. Dressed in our finest ‘evening pyjamas’ and ‘cocktail nighties’ we gathered on Zoom with a glass of wine or cup of tea to reflect on the past year and celebrate everyone who makes our chorus so great. 

 Chorus Awards

Sharon gave the Chair’s Award to Erica for her tireless work on our social media channels over the past year, playing a key role in refreshing the Fascinating Rhythm website, and for supporting the Bass section throughout lockdown. Thank you, Erica, for all your hard work behind the scenes and your amazing commitment to promoting our activities on Facebook and Twitter.

Jo followed with the Director’s Award, which this year was jointly awarded to two ladies who have worked so hard to make our transition to virtual rehearsals enjoyable and inspirational. Wendy H and Karen L have supported Jo every week Zoom with amazingly creative and energetic warm-ups, challenging scale exercises and informative education slots. Thank you, Wendy and Karen, for your inexhaustible drive and determination to keep rehearsals going and for encouraging us all to give our best to our craft despite being unable to sing together in person.

Jo gave an honourable mention to every member of the chorus for sticking with it, zooming in each week and looking after each other, throughout the challenges of 2020 and lockdown. More than any other, 2020 has been a year of friendship and support across the Fascinating Rhythm family.

Finally, our vice-Chair Amy had the honour of announcing the Chorus Members’ Award, which was voted on by the whole chorus and recognised someone who has gone ‘above and beyond’ in supporting Fascinating Rhythm. The winner was Karen L for her enthusiasm and for coming up with so many interesting and creative ways to keep us involved in Zoom rehearsals. Thank you, Karen, for being there every Thursday evening to motivate and challenge us.

Amy also reflected the amazing contribution and commitment our wonderful Director Jo has made over the past year, keeping us engaged and steering Fascinating Rhythm through tricky times with an infectious smile, good humour and insatiable enthusiasm for our singing hobby.  

The last award was a long-service award for Ali, who has been a member of LABBS for 35 years! Ali is the founding member of Fascinating Rhythm, and we are all hugely grateful to her for starting the chorus 25 years ago. Congratulations Ali!

Committee Election

After reports from our Director, Chair, Treasurer and PR Officer, we thanked the outgoing committee for all their hard work to keeping Fascinating Rhythm going over the past year, in extraordinarily challenging circumstances. Particular thanks went to Sharon, Susie and Hannah, who were stepping down from committee roles after several years of service. Thank you, ladies, for your fantastic work and commitment to our chorus.

Susie steered us through the official business of the night – the election of our new committee. We were delighted to welcome Iris as our new Chair, with Amy staying on as vice-Chair and Joan remaining in the post as Treasurer. Vikki has taken up the role of Secretary and Di has returned to lead the Wardrobe Team. Kate T has taken on the PR Officer role, and Kitty continues as Membership Secretary. We also thanked all those in non-committee positions, which are vital to the running of our chorus. Well done ladies, we look forward to working with you throughout 2021.

The final order of business was to announce our charity of the year. And we are pleased to say that we have decided to continue with the Jessie May Trust as our chosen charity for 2021.

Forward Look

All that was left at the end of the evening was to look forward to when we can get back on the risers and sing together again. We feel optimistic that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that it won’t be long before we’re back at rehearsals together, making harmony and working on our Convention package!

How Fascinating Rhythm Survived 2020

How Fascinating Rhythm Survived 2020

Fascinating Rhythm started 2020 as usual with our AGM and annual awards dinner, celebrating the contributions chorus members make to our singing group. Rose received the Chair’s Award, Carole and Peggy shared the Director’s Award, and Nic won the Members’ Award. Our Director, Jo, inspired us to keep ‘building momentum’ and surprised us with a late Christmas present – a brand new song to learn.  

By March, we had the music for a second new song, pushing us firmly into ‘learning mode’ as we prepared for a retreat weekend to work on our 2020 Convention package. Unfortunately, just as we got ‘off the page’ the coronavirus pandemic hit. We were forced to abandon rehearsals and stay at home. But, determined to keep on track with our new songs, we began holding rehearsals online. 

Fascinating Rhythm: Virtual Choir

Since the middle of March, Thursday evenings have seen Fascinating Rhythm meeting online. We’ve dialled in by phone, tablet or laptop, and supported each other in the only way we know-how – with a jolly good sing!

Zoom rehearsals have taken on a new format with physical and vocal warm-ups led by Wendy and Karen. We’ve super manned, time-warped and danced safely in the knowledge that no-one was watching (thank goodness!), learned new warm-up songs in a range of languages, and tested our note accuracy with some interesting new do-re-mi scale exercises. All the time enhanced by the perils of screen-sharing, forgetting to mute/unmute, and the slight delay in Wi-Fi connections.

Our Director, Jo, introduced a ‘2-minute members showpiece’ section – a unique opportunity to discover Fascinating Rhythm’s hidden talents. From poetry to magical maths to songs from a range of genres, we’ve bonded over some incredibly rich and emotional performances. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but the duet Di and Mads shared with us was a truly special, tear-jerking moment. 

Zoom’s break-out function allowed us to meet up in sections, which was a great way to check-in on each other. Good mental health and wellbeing is a fundamental part of Fascinating Rhythm’s choir community – we’re like an extended family! It really helped to talk about home-schooling challenges, being unable to visit elderly parents, and staying motivated to keep fit and well. And, when Jo dropped into the room, to pretend we’d diligently been practising our singing!

Another good thing about Zoom has been the opportunity to re-watch Fascinating Rhythm’s old Convention and concert performances. Each Thursday, Jo selects a video clip from the past for us to enjoy and comment on. It’s been interesting to look back on the journey and progress we’ve made together over the years, and reflect on song choices to choreography and costumes.

Coaching On Camera

Fascinating Rhythm’s two favourite barbershop coaches, Liz Garnett and Sally McLean, found time to Zoom in to say hello and keep us motivated. Liz ran two virtual workshops on our convention songs, which gave us a really good understanding of how the musical arrangement enhances the lyrical meaning of the songs. Sally joined our Easter bonnet parade and encouraged us to look forward to when we can sing together again. 

Fascinating Rhythm was also privileged to have guest speakers from the barbershop community come along to give presentations on LABBS judging criteria for music, singing and performance. Boo, Helen and our wonderful Karen (all from Avalon quartet ) put us through our paces on the theory of music and singing in the barbershop style and gave us plenty to think about for when we will next be able to grace the Convention stage.

Jo, Karen and Wendy held a couple of ‘coaching under glass’ sessions, where three members of the chorus received one-to-one coaching on singing and performance, live on Zoom! Well done to Chloe, Erica and Angela for volunteering and sharing this experience with the rest of the chorus. 

Fascinating Rhythm’s Music Committee also held two workshop nights. Focused sessions with Jo, Karen, Brenda and Wendy reminded us about breathing techniques, vocal expression, space and placement, and acting songs. We also convened a book club, tried out Qi Gong, investigated our personality types, and developed cat-like confidence.

Charity At Home

Fascinating Rhythm couldn’t resist joining in with the trend for virtual lockdown choir videos, so we put together an impressive performance for our Charity of the Year – the Jessie May Trust. This Bristol-based charity that provides nursing care for children is an organisation that is close to our hearts. We learnt and recorded a fabulous new arrangement of Hallelujah and Jo put together a stunning video, which we promoted as a fundraiser on our Facebook page. And if you’d like to help us in supporting Jessie May, you can donate here.

We also took time in our rehearsals to support the weekly clap for carers. A huge clap goes to Lily from Junior FR, who spent her birthday running 10km around her garden to raise over £1000 for the NHS! 

Fascinating Rhythm was also delighted to be nominated for the Voluntary Arts Epic Awards 2020 in recognition of the video we made “This is Me  last year for the charity Ups and Downs Southwest. Sharon and Hannah (our Chair and Public Relations Officer) donned their finest sparkly dresses to attend the virtual awards ceremony. It was an honour to be among such fantastic community projects and have the chance for some ‘online speed dating’ with local community groups.

Staying In Was The New Going Out

Themed, social nights, were introduced to provide light relief during the lockdown. Every six weeks, we’ve dressed up with fancy hats, costumes or glamorous dresses and enjoyed an excellent karaoke sing-along to some of our favourite chorus numbers and pop songs. 

A highlight of our social calendar was the four-chorus jamboree with our sister choirs across Bristol. Nearly 100 people connected on Zoom to celebrate our best lockdown moments, test our barbershop knowledge and watch gold-medal performances from some of the best international champions.

Wendy and Kitty encouraged the girls from Junior FR to make their own video Covid Chorus as a virtual Covid choir singing bespoke lockdown lyrics!

LABBS Big Weekend

With the pandemic in full swing, we weren’t able to travel to Bournemouth for the annual LABBS Convention this year and had to settle for a virtual celebration of all things barbershop. Choruses and quartets from across the country were asked, to send in a video of what they’d been working on throughout the year, for the LABBS Big Weekend

Fascinating Rhythm used Listen To The Music, one of our favourite songs, as the backing track for a montage of the ways in which our members have kept themselves busy during the lockdown. We were excited to showcase the song to our barbershop friends around the world. Our two resident quartets, Avalon and Specs Appeal, also featured in the LABBS Big Weekend with their versions of ‘Popular from the musical Wicked and the theme song to ‘The Big Bang Theory’.

Bring On 2021!

Fascinating Rhythm has provided a lifeline for so many of us this year and Thursday nights have kept our wonderful extended family connected. We’ve welcomed new members and sadly bid a fond farewell to some old friends. 

Whilst singing alone at the laptop on mute on Zoom is no substitute for the enjoyment of being together, it won’t be long until we can get back on the risers together. Until then, we’ll finish the year with a hearty rendition of ‘We’ll Meet Again’.

No Annual LABBS Convention This Year

No Annual LABBS Convention This Year

Each year, on usually the last weekend in October, you will find us somewhere in the country in full makeup and glitzy dresses as we prepare to cross the stage and compete in the LABBS Annual Convention.

2020 has been the strangest of years and of course, a certain pandemic has put paid to any kind of mass gathering – definitely no chance of 2000 barbershoppers descending on the Bournemouth International Centre!

However, not to be deterred, the Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers hopped on-line and have blown us all away by providing a whole weekend of educational sessions, chorus and quartet contributions and amazing guest speakers.

We felt so proud to see our contribution air on Saturday afternoon on LABBS TV, live through YouTube.

Please enjoy our ‘Life in Lockdown’ video featuring the song ‘Listen To The Music’.  We are so proud to have kept the music going during 2020 and we can’t wait to be back together for real.

Workshop 2020 -“Makin’ Our Own Kinda Music”!

Workshop 2020 -“Makin’ Our Own Kinda Music”!

Well, our tenth workshop came and went, and what a day we had! With a buoyant attendance of over 60 delegates, we couldn’t wait to get them started on this year’s song, The LABBS polecat “Make Your Own Kind of Music”.

We warmed up, sorted the parts and went off in our sections, armed with liberal amounts of coffee and cake.

Before we knew it, it was time to reassemble and with the bulk of the song learned, wow, it sounded fabulous!

After a quick lunch, with an opportunity to have a flutter on the raffle, we reconvened, and Wendy restarted our brains with the fun but tricky “Boom Snap Clap” exercise.

One last sectional was enjoyed to iron out those last few tricksy bits and then a several run-throughs with the whole group before it was time to perform for the attendee’s friends and families.

We were really impressed with the performance of our delegates and the way they immersed themselves in the spirit of the day. We hope they continue to make their own kind of music and return for next year’s challenge!

Dementia Connections Charity Cheque Presentation

Dementia Connections Charity Cheque Presentation

Recently, we were delighted to present a final cheque for almost £550.00 to Dementia Connections, our chosen charity for 2018.

Thelma represented Fascinating Rhythm to present the cheque to Amanda and Christine who run the local group in Wotton-under-Edge.

Christine said “All of us at Dementia Connections are really grateful for this donation from Fascinating Rhythm. The money will help us to complete our allotment project this year. We plan to add a seating area, raised beds and troughs so that everyone in our groups can take part in planting and harvesting this year and into the future. We love our days on the allotment when the weather allows, and all this will make it so much easier for us to go there more often. A huge thank you from all of us. Amanda and Christine

We are, of course so pleased to be able to help such a worthy cause and wish them well in their future projects.

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