Chorus of approval for shower singer

UNTIL she joined East City Sound, Lauris Marsh sung exclusively in her shower.

The Glen Waverley grandmother would have loved to pursue music, but marriage and four children at 30 meant that melodies had to take a back seat.

"My children used to go mad because every time they said something, if it was a line in a song, I started to sing the song," she says.

When she and a friend saw an advertisement in a local newspaper for an all-female singing group, they seized the opportunity and discovered the East City Sound.

The Sound is a four-part acapella chorus that sings in the barbershop style — without instruments, but with close harmonies.

The barbershop style was started in the United States by African American men who used to sing as they waited to have their hair cut.

Barbershop songs are divided into four parts: tenor, lead, baritone and bass.

"I just love the four-part harmony," Mrs Marsh says. "And I love the fact that I was going to learn to sing better. I thought I could do it."

That was 18 years ago. Since then, Mrs Marsh has become one of the lead section singers with the group.

Initially, singing barbershop was a challenge for a songstress whose only experience was hymns and pop songs.

"Because there's no musical instruments behind us, acapella singing has to be smooth with no disjointedness or you don't get that flowing sound. Your voice is the musical instrument, so it's a bit more of a challenge than normal choral singing."

Members are also coached about proper breathing technique. "It's doable, for your average singer," Mrs Marsh says.

East City Sound is inviting women of any age to learn the intricacies of barbershop at a four-week introductory workshop starting on February 28. The course, on Thursdays at St Stephen's Anglican Church Hall in Bayswater, runs until March 21. Cost: $5 a session. Details: Lauris, 9803 2502 or 0419 338 034.

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