Monthly Archives: April 2017

How to Practise: Kumbaya for 4 Part Choir

Direct Links to the App Store and Google Play:
Available as an App for iPhone and iPad
Available as an App for Android Phones and Tablets

On August 18th 2017 a choir of over 4000 pupils from Years 3 to 7 will be performing this imaginative choir arrangement of Kumbaya with a distinctive ‘Aussie feel’.

For those lucky enough to take part please take note of what your music director, Donna Marwick-Obrien suggests.
The App is designed to help you learn which-ever part you are allocated. I hope you find that when you get together for the concert you will really know your part and have a great time.

The choir needs to sing in 4 parts.

All 4 parts are available on the App therefore you could split your choir as you wish, or even suggest that choristers swop parts occasionally… that as many that wish can have a chance to sing the melody.

It could be that your choir is split into 4 groups. In the first two verses, two of the 4 sections could sing the solo (melody) part and then split in Verse 3, so that some carry on with the solo(melody) and others take on the Descant line.

You can choose:

  • To view and hear each part with a beat counter above the notation acting as conductor.
  • Adjust the volume of each part to suit your needs as you learn your part
  • Practise with the full band accompaniment

There are four verses.

Verses 1 and 2 are in three parts:
Part 1 (Solo) : has the recognised melody 
Parts 2 and 3: 
these provide lines which are both harmonic and simulate Aussie rhythms.

Here is the opening of Verse 1:

Here are two examples of the beginning of Verse 2 illustrating how the Harmony parts can be displayed. The volume of the parts can be easily balanced using the available faders. This will help hear each individual part more clearly when you are learning it.

Each Part can be heard on its own even. This is with the band …but they can also practise without the band.

During Verses 3 and 4 Parts 1 , 2 and 3 carry on with  similar lines but now a 4th part enters .

Here is the beginning of Verse 3 showing how the Descant part comes in ..I’ve balanced the volumes so it can be heard…but eventually, when you are ready, the part you are learning can be turned off and you can practise holding the part on your own…This will give you a lot of confidence when you go to the full choir rehearsal/s.

This new part is in some ways a Descant line providing additional harmonic timbres but in a  ‘shouting/ response’ style. This adds another different element and  ‘feel’ to the piece.

Choose a Start Bar to practise from different  places. Also chose an End Bar and set Repeat to practise awkward sections over and over again.

In other words choose whatever combination of practice tools you need.

The effect will be that you will be able to learn your part so well that you can  perform exactly as your conductor wants and really enjoy the performing.

This is the history of Kumbaya.
According to Alpha”Kumbaya, my Lord” was first recorded by an out-of-work English professor, Robert Winslow Gordon, in 1927. Gordon went on a search for black spirituals and recorded a song “Come by Here, My Lord”, sung by H. Wylie. The song was sung in Gullah on the islands of South Carolina between Charleston and Beaufort. Gullah is the Creole language featured in the Uncle Remus series of Joel Chandler Harris and the Walt Disney production of Song of the South. “Come by here, my Lord” in Gullah is “Kum by (h)yuh, my lawd”

American missionaries took the song to Angola after its publication in the 1930s, where its origins were forgotten. In the late 1950s the song was rediscovered in Angola and returned to North American where it swept the campfire circuit as a beautiful and mysterious religious lyric. That is why the song is associated with Angola in many current printed versions.

In the US, however, the song was associated with Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and other campers sitting around a campfire in perfect harmony.

Direct Links to the App Store and Google Play:
Available as an App for iPhone and iPad
Available as an App for Android Phones and Tablets

User Instructions/ Tips

How to use the eto Practice Tools  

Most of the what you can do is very obvious. There are a few which are handy to use but not so obvious. Please try things you won’t do any damage:)
However don’t hesitate to ask questions via the comments box. 

  • Tap Play: the Menu slides to the side and the Music Plays from Bar 1 until the end of the study.
  • Swipe the screen and the Menu and the Notation toggles back and fore.
  • Double Tap the Notation Screen and the Music Pauses
  • Double Tap again and the Music Starts from where it Paused
  • Tap the Play Button when the music is playing and the music will pause
  • Tap the Pause Sign and the music will start again

The Pause Button

  • When the Pause Button is clicked the button will change to Play and white text will appear as a prompt to remind you that you are in Pause mode.
  • If the Play button is clicked again the song will play from that exact position (no fade up).
  • To return to Bar 1 or your chosen Start Bar click the Back Button (the smaller button to the left of the Play button.)
  • Before you can Choose another song you must ‘un-pause’ the music by tapping the Back Button.

Setting Start and End Bars: choose a section of the song to practise over and over until correct

  • Each Bar of music has a number.
  • On the screen the numbers are displayed for every Bar.
  • They are the same as the printed music in the 2017 Pack
  • If you need to refer to the separate Rehearsal Instructions for a detailed explanation of how to navigate a score.  That is how to follow musical signs such as Repeats, Del Segno, Coda etc.
  • When you first Press Play the Song will play from Bar 1 to the very end.
  • To Play from a particular Bar enter that Bar number as a Start Bar.
  • Press Play and the Song will play from your chosen Bar to the very end of the song.

Choosing to Repeat a Bar or Section of the Music

  • If you want to choose a section or a single Bar to practise over and over again you can enter an End bar as well as a Start Bar.
  • Click on the Black Repeat icon and it will turn White.
  • Press Play and the song will fade up during the Bar before your chosen Start bar. This will lead you in, give you an introduction, in time and in pitch.
  • The song will continue to play until the end of your chosen End Bar, fade down through the next bar and then return to your Start Bar and Repeat…until you click the Pause Button (the Play Button which has changed to Pause.

Practising at different tempi (speeds):

  • Tap on the + or icons to change the tempo  at which the music is played.
  • The tempi will increase or decrease in increments of 10 beats per minute…even to half speed without any change in quality.
    As explained in the How to Practice Blogs practising slowly is very important…or put another way do not be tempted to move on to a faster speed until you are in total control at a particular tempo. At least the App will ‘keep you company’ whilst you do the hard work…it will pay dividends

Part Mixer:

If an App has an accompaniment and/ or other parts of an ensemble. separate faders will be made available for separate audio parts. You can adjust the volumes to suite your practice needs.

Some studies or technical exercises have no accompaniment but you have the option of lowering / turning off the solo part and playing on your own with the Beat Counter helping to keep you in time.