Learn shaped-note singing this week

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 4, 2015

Area residents will have an opportunity to experience history this week when East Highland Baptist Church holds a free old-time singing school.

Organizer Randall Holland said the guest instructor, Charles Towler, promises he can teach shaped-note singing in as few as three sessions.

Charles Towler

Charles Towler

Shaped note singing evolved in the early history of the United States as a way to teach music for congregational and community singing. The method, which was introduced in 1801, assigns a shape to each note to help singers find pitches. The method originated in New England but has been practiced mostly in the South.

Holland became interested about 12 years ago when he went to a singing convention.

“I fell in love with it,” he said.

The shaped-note method is taught in singing schools, as planned this week.

Towler is a gospel music songwriter, teacher and publisher. He teaches church music schools and is an instructor at several summer music schools, including the Stamps-Baxter School of Music. He has published more than 300 songs, and is the founder, owner and editor of Gospel Heritage Music Company.

Holland, the former music director and First Baptist Gantt and current director at East Highland, said he likes the music so much, he built a singing hall in Gantt and hosts a singing there every Friday night, and on every fifth Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. He also has reinstated the tradition of the Covington County Convention Singing, which is set of the third Friday night and Saturday of September this year.

This week’s singing school, which is free, will be taught at 7 each evening, Monday through Friday, July 6-10, at East Highland Baptist Church, 101 Pecan St., Andalusia.

The school concludes with an event at 6 p.m. on Sat., July 11, at the South Alabama Convention Singing Hall in Gantt.

For information, contact Holland at 334-388-4621