Hell Week

I have been absent from the this space for a few days. I would like to say that “life got in the way”.

It did.

This is HELL WEEK!

VAE photo

San Luis Obispo Vocal Arts Ensemble

We look like a really normal group of people. And, in general we are. We just love to sing. We love to sing for anyone who will listen.

But there is a lot of work that happens before we can stand up in front of an audience and do our thing.

For months, one night a week, we rehearse and memorize the music of any given performance. We have one day in every series where we spend an entire day together to work on the music.

And then there is HELL WEEK.

Occurring in “concert week” it consists of rehearsals on consecutive days that include “technical set up”.

God help us……

Forty or so people trying to work out the last kinks in songs while 5 or 10 of them are laying wires, or setting mikes or hooking up a sound system. Standing orders for where people will be during each song are being refined and corrected. All this is going on as the soloists or small groups are figuring out where they need to stand during performance and how they are going to get there.

All these chores are being done by choir members who really don’t have a “leader”. This is strictly volunteer work. It is construction by committee. Sometimes it works. Other times? Well, someone usually just does what needs to be done. (Just don’t volunteer to be in charge of the women’s uniforms)

People are moving, talking and singing. The director is trying to direct, the logistics manager is trying to explain, again (for the 400th time), how and to get on and off the risers. And someone keeps asking what the call time is at the next venue.

The cacophony is enough to wake the dead.

Of course, none of this is done at the venue where we will be singing. It is done in the high school classroom where we normally rehearse. Which means that it all needs to be done again when we get to where we are singing. And for each concert series, we sing in three different venues!

At each of those rehearsals we run through the entire show. Fixing and tweaking as we go. It takes awhile.

By concert day we are sick of the music, sick of each other, and sick of standing on risers for hours.

If the program starts at 7, we are there at 4:30 or earlier to set up risers, monitors, mikes, instruments and anything else that has to be in place for us to sing.

There are people in the group who have been doing this for over 40 years. They have it down to a pseudo-science. It still takes time, patience and flexibility.

Then we rehearse for as long as we can. Going in, coming out, and singing every song. Making sure we give the audience our best.

As the audience is allowed in the hall, we get into our uniforms, grab a quick bite to eat, and get off our feet.

Then we walk out onto the risers and it is GLORIOUS!

No squabbles, no cacophony, no distractions.

Just the music. Just the audience. Just the singing.

This clip is from Christmas 2016.


This one is from Christmas 2017.

It amazes me every time. I am always sure that the program will fall apart, that we will sound awful, that I will never hit that note in the third song or remember the words in the sixth song (or is that the seventh??) But it always seems to come together.

It takes time, work and dedication to a thousand little things.

So I haven’t been here for a couple of days.

Forgive me. I will be back.

Categories: Absence, Music, Rehearsals, Singing, Uncategorized, Vocal Arts, Vocal Arts Ensemble


  1. SO glad you included the video!!! Beautiful!!! I, too sing in a local choir and love every second. Many thanks…❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You become part of a family in a choir. It is rather amazing to me. Thank you for reading and listening.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The pleasure was all mine…😊😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful video and thank you for sharing. Thank you for following ThusNSuch.


  5. You are very welcome. And thank you for following Talkin’ to Myself! I am fairly new to WordPress so new followers are very much appreciated!

    Liked by 1 person

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