BULLHEAD CITY — Before The 3 Redneck Tenors performed in Bullhead City on Wednesday evening, the singers presented a master class in music performance for the Mohave High School choir that morning.
The Colorado River Concert Association arranged for both of the group’s appearances. During their visit with the choir members, the Tenors gave a short performance before offering any advice: an a cappella version of a highly familiar part of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.
And not just a simple “duh-duh-duh duuuuuuuh” version, but a highly sophisticated interpretation of a musical piece familiar to virtually everyone. Only their voices were used to produce the melody.
The students were impressed and clapped furiously.
Matthew Lord then led the class. He trained at The Juilliard School and is the creator of and writer for the group. He sings with Blake Davidson and Jonathan Fruge, who also have classical music training.
Two choir members, Allison Interior, a junior, and Esther Evins, a senior, sang solo and let each of the tenors provide them with commentary and advice — in front of their classmates.
Interior sang first and chose ‘A Lovely Night” from “Cinderella.”
Lords asked if Interior knew what the song was about.
“True, true love,” she said.
Lord pointed out that there is so much more that could be learned about the song to enhance one’s delivery of it.
“What would you look for in a guy?” he asked her.
While Interior admitted that she didn’t date very much, she provided some adjectives, including “kind.”
“Use that to inform the performance,” he said.
It was also suggested that it helps a singer or musician to know the background of a song and how it was performed, especially if it’s a part of a stage musical.
Fruge suggested trying to find production video or even stage production books to help find context.
It’s crucial to “know the song like the back of your hand,” he said.
Evins sang “Maybe” from “Annie.”
She sang well and moved appropriately. But she closed her eyes quite a bit during her performance, drawing a critique.
“It cuts off the audience and makes you less of a factor on stage,” Lord said.
And while it was a good choice for Evins because the piece allowed her to show off her vocal range, he suggested that “you’re too old to do Annie.”
He said that she should have picked a song that was more age appropriate within the same genre or category.
Evins said her choice was based on what the pianist accompanying her could perform without a lot of time to rehearse.
Lord acknowledged that the decision was a viable one for the class but wanted to drive the point home about taking time to pick the right material.
“Be honest with yourself. Ask ‘What would they cast me in?’ ” he said.
The men also listened to the entire choir sing. The group chose “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
A couple of members were looking at the floor or gazing at other choir members during the performance. Lord pointed out that someone was also looking at a mobile phone.
“The one who looks disengaged is where the audience’s eyes are going to go,” he said as some of the youth reacted a little sheepishly.
The Tenors are amid a 120-day tour. Lord said most people are unable to soar during every performance and struggle to do well most of time. The men explained that good training and preparation can help elevate all performances because even though people can’t be at their complete best every time, doing the hard work beforehand allows every performance to be presentable and acceptable.
“So the audience doesn’t know you’re feeling bad,” he said.
Afterward, Lord said their advice can be used by anyone who has to give a speech or presentation because knowing one’s subject, practicing thoroughly and reaching the point of having confidence to communicate something well are key to performing successfully.
Standing in front of an audience “is one of the hardest things,” he added.