About BlowThyHorn.comBlowThyHorn.com's purpose is twofold:
- To provide ideas, advice, and information for directors of small amateur choirs and a capella groups
- To provide information for early music enthusiasts
Concerning Choir DirectingIn Fall 2007 I started directing Cynnabar's madrigal group, the Cynnabar Collegium Musicum. (More info on that below.) I'd sung in the group for about a year and half and had been very active in my high school's choir and a capella group. Given my fairly extensive choir experience, I figured taking over leading the group would be challenging, but not impossible, and I also figured that there were probably plenty of resources available online and elsewhere with explanation on how to get started. While I was right about the first part--leading choir being challenging but doable--I was dead wrong about the second. Many of my questions, things like, "How do I sing and direct at the same time?" or "Should I direct the same way I would with a large choir?" or "What warm-ups should I be leading and why?" were surprisingly hard to find answers to. Moreover most of the resources I'd been able to find were mainly directed at larger ensembles like high school or church choirs. The purpose of BlowThyHorn.com is to alleviate this lack of information. My suggestions come from books I've read and my own personal experiences. Not everything I suggest has been fully experimented with, nor will any one technique work with every group. Use your judgment. Your mileage may vary. At the very least, the info at BlowThyHorn.com should give you a starting point from which to do further research.
Concerning Early Music"Information for early music enthusiasts" is a very non specific phrase meaning that I intend to write about all the early music stuff I either wish was more readily available or find interesting. An example, of "stuff I wish was more readily available" is reviews on early music products. It's hard to find reviews on amazon for recorder method books or Early Music CDs or which recorder to buy and why. So, I'll be reviewing products here and providing audio samples when appropriate. (Wouldn't it be nice to compare the sound of a cheap plastic recorder and an expensive wooden one?) As far as "stuff I find interesting" is concerned, I have a vested interest in learning more about Polish renaissance music and dances, particularly music in the vernacular and court dances. I'm 50% Polish, and it pains me to see the lack of quality Eastern European music and dance in the SCA--or at least in Cynnabar.
Why "Blow Thy Horn"?"Blow Thy Horn Hunter" is a madrigal composed by William Cornysh that is part of the Collegium's repertoire. It's a cute, upbeat song about hunting deer. We sing it with the rest of our love/lust songs. :-P I figured the name "Blow Thy Horn" was appropriate since I'm sounding my opinions on Choir Directing and Early Music.
About NiqueI'm currently the choir mistress for Cynnabar's Collegium Musica. Cynnabar is a Barony within the Midrealm, which is part of the Society for Creative Anachronism. I took over leading the choir in September 2007 and have been learning a lot about choir directing and myself since. Leadership positions are definitely good for personal growth! I'm also an undergrad at the University of Michigan studying Electrical Engineering. The take home message from this is because of my engineering background I like and tend to explain things as plainly, logically, and clearly as I possible can. It also means I fully understand what it's like to lead a choir without a music degree. X_X
I also play soprano and alto recorder in the Cynnabar Dance Band, Ritornello, and am going to start playing the Viola da Gamba soon. I really love early music because it brings to my mind a time when ordinary people were less self conscious about singing because... well...everyone sang. Books weren't as widely available let alone TV and computers so what else are you going to do? To me, the ideal evening would be meeting friends at someone's home, sharing stories, songs, and dances. Through early music I've had the pleasure of this experience on many occasions. And on top of all that there's a lot of fun, silly music. ^_^
When I'm not doing Early Music stuff I do Swing Dancing, Modern English Country Dancing, and a little bit of Contra. I also like to fool around with computers and ponder the universe. ^_^ My boyfriend, Aaron, is also an early music fan and is currently in the process of creating a Web 2.0 Folk Dance Portal.