The Choir That Uses a Fork Instead of a Piano

This university choir hones their voices by inviting its singers to sit in a circle and use a tuning fork.

“Chamber Singers” sit in a circle facing each other to sing during rehearsals and sometimes in performances! “Circling up” signifies that all voices are equal and united.

What makes this choir unique is their use of a tuning fork. Each member uses these single note tuning forks to calculate their pitches prior to singing. Director Deen Entsminger seeks to challenge Chamber Singers to become better musicians through this approach.

A funny moment in rehearsal

Anytime a student drops their tuning fork!

What happens when a student drops a tuning fork?

Someone will put a quarter in the middle of the floor which goes to a Chamber Singers fund. No one is supposed to drop their tuning fork because they are delicate and may go out of tune if dropped!

QUICK FACTS

Choir Name: Chamber Singers
Location: Belmont University – Nashville, TN
Style: “Classical-ish”
Number of singers: 25
Find out more about us here!

Any bonding activities that help “break the ice” for new members?

During our retreat at the beginning of the year everyone gets to pick a tongue twister to say out loud; once that is accomplished, everyone tries it, and when they “get it”, they pick a prize out of a box!

Tell us about a peak performance moment

We were on tour in Cincinnati, visiting the Underground Railroad Museum; we were given permission to stand in the main lobby and sing under a tapestry signifying the struggle of African Americans to gain freedom. We sang James Taylor’s “That Lonesome Road” to everyone standing near us. It was an extremely emotional moment for us.

What is something you do in rehearsals that surprises new members?

I get very excited when we sing something well and explain that we shouldn’t have to wait for everything to be perfect before celebrating a good thing.

Chamber Singers (2016-2017) proudly wearing their new t-shirts!
Chamber Singers proudly wearing their new shirts for the 2016-2017 term.

A favorite inspirational quote

“This above all, to thine own self be true.” Also: we always use the motto “Take another pass” to ensure that no one is ever disappointed in a mistake but rather encouraged to keep singing.

Any traditions?

We always have two compositions that begin and end our program: Sicut Cervus by Palestrina and That Lonesome Road by James Taylor. Hear us sing the latter here!

What happens when a member graduates from the university?

They are invited to always come back to the circle no matter how long they have been away!

 

 

Deen Entsminger is a Professor of Music at Belmont University School of Music. He has taught in the School of Music since 1988 and currently coordinates the undergraduate music education program, directs the Belmont Chamber Singers, teaches courses in music theory, private composition, secondary choral methods, first-year seminar, mentors students in the undergraduate honors and graduate music education program. “I’ve been around the sun a few times and am getting better at living this life because of all the people from whom I have learned how to live.” - Deen Entsminger