Tammy Skiles joined the Sweet Adelines as a way to do something for herself, after spending 24 years raising and home-schooling her nine children. She loves every minute of singing with the group and was surprised when they sang Happy Birthday to her at their recent Spaghetti Supper in Pratt.
The Sweet Adelines sang a wide of variety of songs at their spaghetti concert supper Monday evening, but one song in particular was a surprise for Tammy Skiles, four-year-member of the group. When the group formed up again after their final scheduled song for the evening and began with strains of Happy Birthday, she was surprised.
"We've always sang Happy Birthday to others at practices," she said. "But I wasn't expecting this for me, at a concert.”
Enjoyment, and a little embarrassment aside, being a member of the Pratt chapter of The Sweet Adelines has been a very positive experience for Skiles.
"As a mother of nine home-schooled children, joining the Sweet Adelines was the first time in 24 years I ever really did anything for myself," Skiles said. "I really enjoy it. It's just a lot of fun."
The Pratt Sweet Adelines meet at 7 p.m. on Monday evenings, usually in the Pratt Community Center. The third Monday of the month they meet at the "Diva's Shed," a special location made possible by Karyl Stevens because another group has rights to the community center that evening of the month. Wherever they meet, shared laughter, smiles and singing is sure to happen.
The Sweet Adelines is a worldwide organization with different regions of singers. Every third year, local groups travel to a regional competition where their skills are tested and they are allowed to continue if they are above a certain point level. It helps maintain the quality of the groups.
Considering the requirements, Skiles said anyone, regardless of musical training or background was welcome to join the group.
"Our director, Kyra Dauner, is so good with teaching us how to sing," she said. "At each session we have warmups, breathing exercises and work on making our vowels sound the same."
The singers also practice some choreography to go along with their harmonizations, making program performance an almost interactive effort as arms rise and fall with the tremor of the notes.
"At first I felt a little funny about the actions and getting into the music," Skiles said. "But you get used to it very quickly and soon it is just all about making beautiful music."
There are about 20 members making beautiful music with the current Pratt group. Age is not a factor, with Skiles daughter, Susanna, being the youngest at 21.
"One day last year she just said to me, 'Mom I want to spend more time doing things with you,' and she joined the group," Skiles said. "We've been enjoying this together ever since."
Since the group sings a cappella, no accompaniment is needed. There are four levels of voice range: tenor - upper sounds, lead - melody, bass - the bottom line and baritone - harmonization.
"It's not like regular chorus singing exactly," Skiles said. "Our director makes CD's for us with our parts and we learn by listening, then put it all together."
Sometimes when the four parts harmonize together, another sound is heard soaring above the group. It's called an over tone and is an exciting and unexpected factor that happens most often on the last note of a song as it is held for an extended time.
"Singing harmony together is a great bonding experience and guests are encouraged to bring along their mother, daughter, sister or a friend for even more fun," said Dauner, the local director. "Whether you sang years ago, or are the first to sign up for karaoke, there is a place for you on our risers to come sing your heart out."
Dauer, a Sawyer native, first joined the group along with her mother. She has directed the group for more than 20 years.
The Pratt Sweet Adelines open their Monday night rehearsals on October 16 at the Diva Shed, 912 S. New Street. Those who join for eight practices will have the opportunity to perform with the group at their annual "Christmas Happening" December 10 and at other venues during the Christmas season.
Skiles, who sings bass, said her section could particularly use some more singers, but voices of all ranges were welcome. Director Dauner can be reached at 620-672-8228 for questions.