Songs & Stories

Becky Graber

Becky began directing choruses in high school as student conductor for her 100-voice high school choir and as one of the music directors for the annual senior class show. She has led children’s choirs, women’s choirs, and church choirs, and has been the choral director for singing weeks at folk music camps, vocal retreats, and weekend workshops. In Brattleboro, Becky is well known for her singalongs, sometimes based on Broadway tunes, and for her ability to teach a crowd almost anything by rote and by ear. In April 2011, she was the first conductor of Brattleboro’s middle school All District Choral Festival, and in May 2011, she led the congregational singing at the UCC Windham Union Association Festival of Choirs. In 2014, she led a workshop at the Sister Singers Convention in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.

Vocal Workshops

Becky is available for one-day workshops, weekend singing retreats, weeklong or weekly choruses, and singalongs. If you want to sing with others but aren’t sure how to organize it, she can help you think it through and create what you’re hoping for.

Becky also leads vocal workshops with her dear friend, Kristen Carmichael-Bowers.Becky Graber conducting music

Oral Tradition Learning

Becky specializes in teaching songs by ear in the way of the oral tradition, and she has a wealth of songs to share with new groups. She lines out the music, singers echo it back, and in an amazingly short period of time, the group is singing in 3 or 4-part harmony.

Improvisation

Becky studied vocal improvisation with master teacher and performance artist Rhiannon. Rhiannon, a member of Bobby McFerrin’s “Voicestra,” has developed a range of musical activities that encourage fun and flexibility as they stretch the musical palate. Becky often uses some of these activities, working with singers as a whole group, in small groups, and in pairs to experience the thrill and comfort of experimenting with sound in a group of singers.

Choral Directing

There is nothing quite as exhilarating as working together towards a choir performance.  Becky can guide a group through the early stages of learning notes and words, through complexities of harmonies and character, and into the precision of accurate rhythms, entrances, and endings. The journey towards performance is always a rich experience as we reach towards fuller expression, better technique, and more satisfying and communicative musicality.

Singalongs, Senior Sings, and Performances

Becky has an ever-expanding repertoire of swing tunes, folk songs, gospel tunes, Broadway hits, and pop songs from the ’50s and ’60s. She can sing FOR people or WITH people, though she believes it’s best to get everyone singing for at least part of each gathering. At home in Brattleboro, Becky leads glee clubs and singalongs at senior residential care facilities, nursing homes, and at an adult day care facility. Becky can lead “senior sings” at any facility that caters to the older set, from retirement homes to senior centers to nursing homes. She can tailor a singalong to the expected audience, from the youngest to the oldest. Singing together, and building a repertoire of shared songs, is such a pleasure! 

       

Weddings, Memorial Services, and Special Occasions

Becky is an experienced and sensitive keyboard player, with skills on piano, organ, pump organ, and accordion. She is known for her ability to accompany singers and ensembles. Becky can be the sole musician for special events, or she can put together a larger musical ensemble if one is called for.                        

Stories and Songs Performances and Residencies

Becky’s programs for the youngest set (pre-school and kindergarten) are highly participatory, with seasonal or theme-based songs, stories with join-along parts, and singing games or movement if the setting is conducive to it. Performances for children from 8 – 12 and for families involve more stories that are “just for listening.” They still involve some participation, as the audience is encouraged to join along on a chant, or a song or two.

Becky has always loved libraries! She is known for being able to engage even the youngest listeners in her storytelling programs, and is able to bring a mix of stories that can appeal to the wide age range that is a usual library crowd. She always creates a program that ties in with local states’ summer reading programs, bringing a mix of songs and stories to each event.

Becky visited hundreds of schools during her years on the Vermont and New Hampshire state arts rosters and continues to bring stories to elementary schools. Becky offers a “Performance Residency,” which is generally a three-day visit to a school. It begins with an introductory performance or two (depending on school size), followed by classroom visits (with more age-appropriate stories and story-making activities), a parent/teacher workshop if desired, and a concluding family evening gathering.

The development of this website has been funded in part by the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Site constructed by EHW Design. Hosted on wind powered servers by Canvas Host. Photos by Jeff Woodward, Karen Becker, Tom Bedell, and Laura Bliss. © 2011 Becky Graber.