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Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to know how to read music to sing shaped-notes?

No! In fact the system was designed for non-music readers. 


How do I know what part I should sing?

The singing masters will help you determine which of the four parts is the best fit for your voice. There is a part just right for you!


Do I need a songbook for the singing school?

There will be loaner songbooks available. There will also be songbooks for sale.


How much does the singing school cost?

The event is FREE! It is our desire to attract people who want to learn the Blue Ridge style of shaped-note singing so the tradition will live on. A collection will be taken for the Shook-Smathers House Museum, however, to express our gratitude for use of such an amazing space!


What about lunch?

We are asking folks to brown bag their lunch. There is a refrigerator on the premises. Coffee, drinks, dessert and snacks will be provided. Because our schedule is tight, and there are very limited food options near the Shook-Smathers House we do not advise participants to leave for lunch. We will have fixin's for PB&J sandwiches for anyone who forgets their lunch. This event does NOT have a potluck. 


Can I just come and listen?

Nope! If you are there, we are going to hand you a book and teach you to sing. Don't worry - it's painless and lots of fun!


Do I need to register?

Yes! Since space is limited, we might have to turn folks away at the door who have not registered. Also, by registering we will be sure to have enough handouts, chairs and coffee ready.


What ages are appropriate for the singing school?

Middle school age and up, but we wouldn't turn down a talented elementary school child who showed a genuine interest. 


I am an experienced shaped-note singer. Is this for me?

Yes and no. If you sing the Blue Ridge style and would like to assist the singing masters in mentoring beginning singers, then you might enjoy the day. However, if you are expecting the event to be like a regular shaped-note singing, you will be disappointed. Having said that, however, there will be some archival recordings of shaped-note singers you might find very interesting as well as a photo and shaped- note book exhibit. Keep in mind, only the Blue Ridge style of singing using the Walker seven-shape system will be taught at the Quay Smathers Memorial Singing School.

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