It is a good thing that I wasn’t one of those kids that was embarrassed by my parents singing in random public places, at home, on stages, and pretty much everywhere between. I would have lived in a constant state of mortification otherwise! I learned at a very early age to add my voice instead. Hey – it beats stage fright! My part is alto and I join in with my mom and dad. When we have the opportunity we’ll add more voices to the mix; family joining the chorus, making the sound so much richer and stronger.
Singing together, lots, for lots of years, you learn to “read” each other. A look can tell someone to switch parts because you feel a sneeze coming on, warn me off from heading flat, or share a moment of sweet relief when something touch and go comes together. For me, being an alto, reaching the high notes can create squeaks that I would really rather not put out for public consumption. So, some switching goes on and almost always the audience is completely unaware of what is going on. The same way with slowing down the tempo or deciding to sing the chorus one more time, it doesn’t take a word, you just know.
It’s all done with a look, a nod, a flick of the hand, a sway – most of the time it doesn’t require a verbalized thought. What is seen as a comfortable knowledge of the other person, the part they will take, how they hear the music, their strengths and where they will struggle, it all boils down to trust. It is something that takes time to develop, but when it is there, the music can be so sweet and freeing.