All the greats had a sidekick. The Lone Ranger and Tonto. The Green Hornet and Kato. Batman and Robin. Matt Dillon and Festus. They followed faithfully, acted as a sounding board for ideas and every now and then got into a pickle that they had to be rescued from. They were also frequently taught something valuable that was supposed to make the audience think about something important (or funny). Or taught our hero something about themselves. No leader is complete without their sidekick.
So how does that apply to singing? Well, each section has seasoned veterans who have been singing for a zillion years, sight-read on the fly and pretty much know their way around how stuff is supposed to be sung. However, if they’re the only ones singing that becomes just a small group of soloists and the sound is mighty thin. The power of the Windward Choral Society is in the sound of 100 voices blending together to make a seriously joyful noise.
Thus the need for the sidekicks, the true core of the music that we make. Your “Tonto” learns from the veteran singers and, in turn, teaches those vets about themselves as they try to figure out what they’re doing (since there’s no script and they might not even know that they’re leading anything). When things go south you’re rescued and when something doesn’t make sense the vets are there to help.
Of course, none of this sidekick stuff works if the hero doesn’t do hero stuff. If you’re one of those who find that singing comes easy to you, share what you know. It might be something as simple as a hand motion to assist with a tricky cutoff or turning your head and singing toward your neighbor during a particularly difficult line to guide them. Or sticking around for a few minutes after rehearsal to talk over something that didn’t sound right. It may be something as involved as gathering the gang at your home to hover around the piano and bang through all the tricky parts (“Yabba-daba-doo, Barney!”).
The message here is that the hero & sidekick team is just an empty shell if one or the other isn’t holding up their side of the partnership. Veterans, offer your help. New singers, ask for it. Nobody is going to be embarrassed, you’ll both make new (and often long-lasting) friendships and when the credits start rolling you’ll find that the Windward Choral Society is a tighter-knit group that sounds better than when you started.
And then you’ll be back the next week to make another joyful noise. Same bat-time. Same bat-channel.
Just for fun, a good sidekick list; feel free to add a comment with some of your favorites that I missed. From above:
– Lone Ranger & Tonto
– Green Hornet & Kato
– Batman & Robin
– Matt Dillon & Festus or Chester
And some more:
– Fred Flintstone & Barney Rubble
– Michael Knight & his car
– Neo & Trinity
– Aladdin & Genie (we miss you Robin Williams)
– Frodo & Sam
– Victor Frankenstein & Igor (the “Young Frankenstein” one that pronounced it “eye-gore”)
– Hawkeye & Trapper or BJ
– Andy Griffith & Barney Fife
– Shrek & Donkey
– Rocky & Bullwinkle
– Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson
– Han Solo & Chewbacca (somewhat one-side conversations)
– Chuck Noland & Wilson the volleyball (REALLY one-sided conversations)
– and at the head of the class Laurel & Hardy. If you haven’t heard it, google “who’s on first”, one of the best comedy bits of all time. They built on it over the years but the original is magic.
Correction: Abbott & Costello. Duh.