The Harmony Choir Brisbane

Bio: The Harmony Choir Brisbane

“Hi…my name is Roo Friend and I’ve been running a choir in central Brisbane for the last 12 months called The Lunchtime Choir.”

This was how my second street flyer began back in 2007 and I had a slogan on the flyer: “Everybody needs a little TLC...”

I ran it at lunchtime in the middle of Brisbane at St Ann’s Church in Ann Street Brisbane. It was a small success inasmuch as I got singers, but not enough and it was sporadic. Then that church was razed for development. So I found a great space in St Andrew’s Uniting Church Hall, corner of Creek and Ann Sts, Brisbane, changed TLC’s name to The Harmony Choir (THC) and ran on Wednesday evenings, then Thursday evenings from 7pm to 8:30pm. We’ve been there ever since and I put the longevity and success of THC down to two things: great people and regular street ads with tear-offs!

Here’s another of my flyers (in 1970’s California self-help literature jargon)

reduce stress…. if you sing you GET happy!….make your life better…get confidence…it’s easy! Explore expression and its power…a positive step!
Folk, jazz, gospel, pop and blues, singing with others…creates a spell that will transform you!

Everything I say here is true. Later on I added “...it’s good for your health and your love life!” Also true.

You should know a little about me; I worked in the Aussie pop music industry for 28 years, playing in covers bands, music theatre, singing backups and playing guitar with Col Joye, Normie Rowe, Long Way To The Top, and a stack of others. I trained at NSW Conservatorium Of Music and Uni of New England Armidale, and I was a TAFE music teacher for a while, (if that is a good thing). I also play many other instruments and of course I love music and feel a special spiritual connection to it. It’s one of the two closest things to real magic that I know.

THC Brisbane works like this:

There is no audition, and plenty of beginners. We do 5 minutes of physical warmup, about 5 more of voice warmup, then we sing scales and sounds, followed by singing the piece for that week, in unison melody first, not harmony...warts and all!

In THC there is a focus on acquiring listening and pitching skills to
• determine the key of a piece of music and
• to isolate the two main harmonies that come out of the scale based on that key
Then we all learn to sing simple chords together, using basic voice sounds, in three groups.

This technique is transferred to songs by introducing lyrics, and so we begin to sing songs, in 3 part harmony, using the triad system.

The sound of 3-part harmony is quite heavenly, and not surprisingly it’s used a lot in spiritual music. People are surprised how beautiful it does sound, and how that makes you feel. Here is a legitimate quote from one of our visitors (people drop in for a session...we are not a course):

“Hey Roo, I just want to thank you for last night. It was great. I had a lot of fun and I think all the others did too. I was amazed at how good we all sounded together, and in just 1 hour. This is what I've been looking for. See you next Wed.” Richie Rankin

We sing songs from anywhere and everywhere. If it’s a good song, we’ll sing it!

For example:

Stop In The Name Of Love
Tears In Heaven
You Send Me
Amazing Grace
California Dreaming
Danny Boy
Guantanamera
Georgia
8 Days a Week
Blue Moon
Waltzing Matilda
What A Wonderful World

and more…it’s all easy stuff and really well known; we don't read music, it’s done by learning and listening.

I really commend the stayers in THCB (B for Brisbane). Some of them have been around for years and I have seen them develop confidence and great vocal skills...many have much better voices than mine in terms of tone and range. And they have become my friends.

I hope you come and listen to us sometime. Each year we do a concert and give the proceeds to an agreed charity. Harmony is about getting on, co-operating and love. We like to think that The Harmony Choir Brisbane sends out that message with our singing.

Roo Friend, 2013

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