• Karen Pauley

16 Bar Challenge - Summer 2021

Last summer I took part in the 16 Bar Challenge that was created by Sing Space and Online MD. This was an opportunity to work on 12 songs in 12 genres for 12 weeks. The 16 bar cut is a standard cut used in musical theatre auditions. The pieces usually last for around a minute and good cuts are much better than just singing a verse and chorus as they can craft the journey of the piece allowing you to demonstrate different parts of your voice and your acting skill.


Every Monday we received sheet music and backing tracks. As I am a Sing Space member there were also tutorials each week on the specific genre. We had to video and share the piece on a private group by the end of each week and selected participants got to take place in a showcase at the end of the course.


I am used to the sound of my voice in recordings. But I know that lots of people cringe when they hear recordings of their voice and I still do that when I see videos of me singing. (I pull the strangest faces.) I also had very little experience of making self-tapes as I have not been auditioning. With the rise of covid-19 the groups I work with have been asking for video submissions and almost all of this process has moved online. This does mean I am now getting to see other people's self-tapes, but I still struggle to make them, even though I know that they don't need to be perfect.


Taking part gave me a focus that I had lost regarding my own performing. I may spend part of nearly every working day contemplating some aspect of singing or performing, but this is about other people's voices and not my own. There were many things I struggled with once I started working on the songs. My voice can sound very pure and distortions are needed for rock singing and pop. My breathing is terrible on high classical notes as I haven't had to sing opera in 20 years. I had never heard most of the material before and finding time each week to learn a new songs wasn't easy.


There is a new challenge starting on the 17th January and I have signed up. This time I am going to try to get over my fear of posting videos and start to publicly post the material. I imagine it will be terrifying. I ask performers to be brave and to take risks and every now and again I push myself to do the same things.



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