Stanley Hammer Harmony
I am doctor. I am not a singer. However, a doctor can be trained to be a reasonable part singer. There are many different methods. I chose the Stanley Hammer method.
I can already hear you. “What in the world is the Stanley Hammer harmony method, Doc?”
This is a free blog. I don’t have a patent on my theory for voice training, and you are most free to use it. But I hope if you learn to sing by this method you will let folks know how you came about it, ’cause I might have invented it.
Several years back I went to a bluegrass seminar. It was in Roanoke, Virgina, and put on by an outfit called Accutab. They are in the music instruction business and specialize in bluegrass. It was a fine session. My wife studied bass under Marshall Wilborn, and I split my time between mandolin and harmony vocal workshops.
My vocal instructor was guy named Don Rigsby, who is not only a fine touring musician, but teaches traditional music classes at Morehead State University. Believe me, the opportunity to sing harmony with Don Rigsby in front of a small group of musicians is a bit intimidating, but a wonderful learning experience.
Mr. Rigsby thought my work was good overall, but he is a pro, and there was plenty I could learn from him. My singing was, as you have heard before, good for a Doctor. (As in “Good, Doc, but don’t give up your day job.”)
On one chorus I held a line he approved of without change. “Doc, he said, “I especially liked it when you hit the seventh on the word ‘home.’ Nice touch.”
“Thanks. That was my Stanley hammer note.”
“My Stanley hammer note. We practice in Moose Dooley’s garage, and there is a Stanley hammer on the pegboard. When I sing, I fixate on that hammer and think of the pitch I want. In fact, I go up and down the tools on the pegboard to hit all six notes in my range. Moose is very meticulous and always hangs his tools in the same spot without fail, so I was able to train my voice to match the pitch by visualization of the position of each tool on the pegboard. The vertical space in between the tools represents the intervals between the notes.”
He was quiet for a moment. “Doc, he finally said. “I’ve been around this business a long time. I got admit that is first time I have heard of that method. I’m gonna have to think on that one. But if it works I can’t argue with it.”
I figure it is a bit akin to Roy Huskey’s thought process. He thought of different notes in term of colors. ‘That was a blue note, or a green one,” he’d say. If you are just starting out, I’d recommend Roy’s method over mine; he was a far better musician that me. But if you can’t get it by that method, and especially if are are one of these obsessive compulsive types such as a doctor or an accountant, you might give the old Stanley hammer voice trainer method a whirl. If does have a few pitfalls which I will explain in my next post, but you still might want to try it out.
If you do, and it works for you, the next time you run into Mr. Rigsby tell him you love his his singing, and it sounds like he has studied the Stanley hammer method. I am certain he will not know what to say.
On by the way, Marfar’s birthday is this week. Like Jack Benny, she is perpetually 39, but unlike Mr. Benny is still as cute as a teenager. (Don’t worry Mr. Benny, you were the best comedian ever.) Y’all wish her the best.
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