I asked 100 women – all Queens of Harmony and/or current int’l top-ten quartet members – to participate in a survey designed to offer advice to quartets still climbing the regional rankings ladder. The questions address song choice, time management, and coaching strategies as well as interpersonal relationships among quartet members and advice on how to deal with disappointment.
Here are some of their responses.
Today’s Question is:
Q. Did your quartet consistently improve or was there a moment when things clicked and your scores and success drastically improved? What caused that moment to occur?
A. We constantly improved. There is something about time (if you’re in a group that constantly works to improve on an individual level) that just polishes every edge, nook, and cranny!
A. The year we won, we focused on details in the musical product. One of our coaches focused on our stage persona which brought out a different side of the quartet. Our commitment to work on the things our coaches suggested helped us to feel totally prepared – something I have never felt before.
A. Our quartet story has mostly been about consistent improvement through dedicated application of skills learned in coaching. However, a few years ago we experienced a huge jump in placement at International, and people always ask us “how’d you do that?”. The summer before the contest, our coach led us to turn the corner from technical skills demonstration to emotional storytelling. We spent one critical rehearsal talking through our ballad back-story, relating it personally to our own love lives and life struggles. We let our guards down with each other and really shared some personal feelings stuff. We then were able to put that trust and vulnerability into our ballad. That connection to each other and to the story turned our song into a heart-felt message rather than notes and words off of the page. Once we knew how to do that, we then took that same approach – deep personal emotional connection to a song – to all of our contest songs, and were able to bump up our contest results.
A. There has been consistent improvement but also major breakthroughs that typically occurred after a major coaching session OR a competition. Ie, we got markedly better after we came in the top 15 for the first time because our confidence level increased once we realized we really could do it!
A. My quartet has consistently improved, but when we made our last personnel change, the voices clicked and we found our ‘sound’. From there, we’ve skyrocketed. I think the fact that we are all smart musicians to begin with that finally found the right voice combination is what caused our success.
A. I think trusting that we were worthy and deserving helped us a lot. If you don’t believe in yourself enough to win…well, you won’t. Singing because we loved it and because we knew the audience loved us was huge for me personally. Being on stage for me, was the place where I could just let it fly and I loved the response from the audience when I did that. Times when I was worried, I didn’t get the reaction I wanted. The decision to just let it happen instead of trying to MAKE it happen was a huge leap!! It worked!!!
A. We were lucky enough to consistently improve – and when we finally won, we went into the contest actually BELIEVING that we would. Made all the difference in the world once we believed it!
A. Our quartet made major score jumps when members changed and since that time we have steadily increased our score.
A. Coaching is always very important, but what you do with that info when on your own is equally important; some coaches “click” with a group at certain points in their development; recording a CD was a unique bit of self-examination
A. Our quartet consistently improved, then we got a new member. After about 6 months together, the sound really started to gel and become a unit. I think it was time spent singing together….and a LOT of hard work!
A. We consistently improved. We all had a similar work ethic, were more concerned about making our own parts the best we could (instead of fixing others), and we maintained focused, fun, hard-working rehearsals.
A. There was a moment we stayed the same for a couple of years in the top 10. We focused on different songs and coaching which made the difference.
A. We consistently improved through regional but made a big one at International. I think we finally “let it go” as the new song says.
A. We consistently improved since we had the same goal and focus.
A. We drastically improved a couple years ago, and found ourselves in a whole new world, thanks to trusting that we technically were good to go, and now needed to turn to expressing and delivering an emotional performance that spoke to individual listeners.
A. We’ve pretty consistently improved contest to contest, but there are definitely times through the year when it doesn’t necessarily feel like we’re getting better. Coaching is the biggest thing for us, in my opinion. Keeping it fresh and always learning new things – we can learn a new skill and get “stuck” working on only that, so other input is highly valued.
A. We are constantly improving, as individual singers and as a foursome. I think the second you stop learning or growing you stop getting better. We still have a long way to go, this journey is not complete. In fact you hear of queens that still get coached and voice lessons, it’s all a process, we will never be perfect.
A. We had big jumps of success. With the help of a new team of coaches and a new member, we worked on re-inventing ourselves in all 4 categories…….9 months later we were crowned! The difference of that one voice, hard work, and believing in ourselves caused our dreams to come true.
A. We pretty much consistently improved, though we did have one year where our score remained in the same ball park as the previous year. Things really clicked when we started working with a new coach who is amazingly talented and really brought out our best sound.