Monday, March 20, 2023

The secret world of … Tenors

This is a series of five posts looking in a light-hearted way at the different types of singers in a typical community choir.

I've covered Sopranos and Altos so far, now here are the Tenors. Enjoy! In other posts I deal with Basses, and Floaters.

Here are ten things I’ve learnt about Tenors after leading community choirs for over 25 years:

  1. Tenors can be men with high voices. But they can also be women with low voices. And yet they are singing exactly the same notes – go figure!
  2. Many community choirs have mixed Tenor sections. That’s where the trouble starts.
  3. Male Tenors are usually tall and like to stand at the back. They sing over the heads of all the women in the front. Sometimes you can’t hear them very well.
  4. Female Tenors are usually extremely confident, especially the front row. They like to sing out loud and drown everyone else out. Even though they’re not (usually) singing the tune.
  5. One week you might have hundreds of singers in the Tenor section. The next week, they’ve all disappeared.
  6. Tenors have a low boredom threshold and don’t often understand how the one note they mainly sing fits in with the rest of the choir.
  7. Tenors like weird notes. The weirder the better. They also like dancing. And jazz.
  8. Male Tenors favour colourful waistcoats for concert attire.
  9. Tenors can get easily confused if they stand too close to the Basses.
  10. Sometimes an arrangement doesn’t have a Tenor part. This can cause a great deal of trouble.


You might also find this fun from Classic FM: 10 worst things about being a tenor.


And finally, from an unattributed meme that’s circulating the internet:

Top Ten Reasons for Being Tenor

1. Tenors get high - without drugs.

2. Name a musical where the bass got the girl.

3. You can show the sopranos how it SHOULD be sung.

4. Did you ever hear of anyone paying £1,000 for a ticket to see ‘The Three Basses?’

5. Who needs brains when you’ve got resonance?

6. Tenors never have to waste time looking through the self-improvement section of the bookstore.

7. You get to sing along with John Denver singing “Aye Calypso.”

8. When you get really good at falsetto, you can make tons of money doing voice-overs for cartoon  characters.

9. Gregorian chant was practically invented for tenors.  Nobody invented a genre for basses.

10. You can entertain your friends by impersonating Julia Child.

Chris Rowbury


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