All posts by Jack Pelham

Sing Montana! on the Hunt for Instrumental Talent, Both Now and Later

We’re almost ready for our 3rd Annual Montana Christmas! Singalong and Choral Concert, and as luck would have it, we still need to fill some instrumental spots in the show! Please help us spread the word, as we’re hoping to avoid having to use keyboards to play these important parts!

Needed right now:

  • 1 violinist for a Joplinesque waltz.
  • 1 flautist for a descant on a traditional carol.
  • 2 trumpeters and 1 trombonist for a Funk Rock piece.
  • 1 guitarist (Nylon or Steel String) for a simple strummed accompaniment on the Joplinesque waltz. (Oom-pa-pa)
  • Auxiliary Percussion Players: Shaker, Claves, Wood Block, and perhaps some other things.
  • 1 string bassist for the Joplinesque waltz. (Oom-pa-pa) And for the traditional carol.

If we don’t get lucky enough to find the live players, we’ll cover these parts with keyboard instruments―but everybody knows live players are better!

Our Christmas show has a dress rehearsal on Monday 4 December, and we play on Friday and Saturday, the 8th and the 9th. So if you’re interested in playing, please don’t wait to call or text Jack Pelham at (406) 696-4435. And if it’s too late at night for that, you can contact us here.

Needed for our Spring Semester:

We sing a lot of unaccompanied choral works, and have need of a piano accompanist from time to time, but if we had working relationships with the following instrumentalists, we’d like to work up a piece from time to time.

  • Piano accompanist (for choral work)
  • Piano accompanist for solo/duet work
  • Guitar (classical/folk styles)
  • Horn Line (Saxes, trumpets, trombones)
  • Drums
  • Electric Bass
  • String Bass
  • Violin
  • Clarinet
  • String Quartet
  • Steel Drums

Our Vision

We founded our Freedom Choir with the idea of proving a high quality option for those who had excellent choral experiences in high school and college, and have no outlet for singing now. Freedom Choir is a volunteer community “pops” choir, with “something for everyone”, as we sing in many different styles. We’re also rolling out Sing Montana! Troubadours this Christmas. It’s a troupe of excellent soloists who will sing nicely-accompanied pieces in restaurants, clubs, and assisted living facilities. We also have Sing Montana! Youth Choir for homeschoolers, and are getting ready to offer singing classes and music-reading classes to the general public. The mission of Sing Montana! is to provide opportunities for singers to perform and to improve their skills.

While singing is our mainstay, we still think we could play a similar role in providing outlets for some instrumentalists who aren’t looking for an intense gig, but would like to stay sharp in their skills, and be meaningfully involved in the musical community. If this sounds like you’d we’d love to talk to you right way! Even if you’re not interested in playing our Christmas show, our plans for our repertoire for next semester hinge somewhat on the instrumentalist relationships we can get going in December and January.

So if you’re interested in playing, or simply in learning more, please don’t wait to call or text Jack Pelham at (406) 696-4435. And if it’s too late at night for that, you can contact us here.

Sing With Us for Montana Christmas!

Why not sing with us at Christmas and see if you’d like to join permanently?

All four of our choral ensembles are two-semester groups, and we sing two major shows each year. But our Montana Christmas! show (in its third year) is such a special event that it makes for a great opportunity to commit to try us out for a one-semester commitment, before deciding whether you’d like to stay on for the whole 2023/2024 performance season.

Here’s a quick blurb about each of our four choirs, with links to each one’s rehearsal schedule for the Fall. This Fall, each choir will work on its Christmas music, as well as its music for our big Spring 2024 show in early May. So you’ll also get a preview of that music during the Fall semester.

Sing Montana! Freedom Choir

Here’s Freedom Choir at the First Annual Montana Christmas! Show. Babcock Theatre.

Advanced choir for men and women, aged 16 and up. Pitch-matching test required. Rehearses once a week for 2.5 hours. Sings mostly 4-part songs, about half unaccompanied. Lots of styles, including Barbershop, Sea Shanties, Spirituals, and more. Participation Fee: $100 per semester. (Includes T-shirt and all sheet music.)
Learn more about Freedom Choir.
See our season schedule.

Sing Montana! Teen Choir

(Sorry, no photo! We haven’t had an all-teen choir before!)
Boys and girls, ages 13-18. Pitch-matching test required.
Rehearses once a week for 105 minutes. Sings mostly 3- and 4-part songs.
Lots of styles, including Barbershop, Sea Shanties, Spirituals, and more. Participation Fee: $100 per semester. (Includes T-shirt and all sheet music.)
Learn more about Teen Choir.
See our season schedule.

Sing Montana! Treble Choir

Treble Choir in rehearsal. 2021. At this time, it was going
under the name of Homeschool Glee Club.

A year-long ensemble for boys and girls, ages 10-12. This is for singers who are singing in the soprano or alto ranges. If you have a male singer in this age range who is already singing in the tenor or bass ranges, please contact us and we’ll see whether it would be a good move to put them in Teen Choir early. Pitch-matching test required. Rehearses once a week for 75 minutes. Sings mostly 2- and 3-part songs. Participation Fee: $100 per semester. (Includes T-shirt and all sheet music.)
Learn more about Treble Choir.
See our season schedule.

Sing Montana! Kids’ Choir

Kids’ Choir, 7-9, in rehearsal in 2021.

A year-long ensemble for boys and girls, ages 7-9. No pitch-matching test required.
Rehearses once a week for 60 minutes. Sings unison songs and rounds, mostly.
Participation Fee: $100 per semester. (Includes T-shirt and all sheet music.)
Learn more about Kids’ Choir.
See our season schedule.

To Register

Feel free to contact Jack Pelham with any questions you may have. And if you’re ready to register, go here and carefully choose the right ensemble.

Free Singing Workshop In Billings! Monday 19 June 2023

Be sure to follow the sign-up link below!

Penelope sings in Voice Class. 2023.

Sing Montana! is hosting a free singing workshop in Billings on

Monday 19 June 2023
6:30pm to 8:30 pm

St. Andrew Presbyterian Church
80 24th St W
Billings, MT 59102
(See it on Google Maps.)
(Sing Montana and SAPC are not affiliated.)

For ages 13-103

This workshop is a sampler for those who are:

  • generally interested in singing
  • interested in registering for our Voice Camp for Teens (July 24-29),
  • interested in registering for our Fall Voice Classes (Starting in September), or
  • interested in joining Freedom Choir this Fall (Starting in September).

Come learn singing skills the way that millions learn athletic skills—in a class setting! Students learn faster this way as they see other students being coached through the common obstacles to great singing, and they learn quickly to overcome the fear of singing in front of others. (Read an article about the benefits of coaching singers this way.)


Professional vocal coach and Freedom Choir director, Jack Pelham, leads the fun workshop with lots of group activities and solo exercises. Willing* participants will have opportunity to sing solos for the class and to be coached by Mr. Pelham. (“Standards”, ballads, patriotic songs, and hymns tend to make good choices for this.) And he’ll likely have the whole class work on certain parts of those songs that require skill to perform well. We’ll also do some harmony singing, teaching everybody a simple Barbershop “tag” in four parts.

*You will not have to sing solo at this event if you don’t want to, but it’s required in Voice Camp and Voice Class.

Good singing is so much more than just getting the words and the notes right. We will work on fundamental skills, such as:

  • How to get a rich tone that audiences want to hear. (Resonant, and not too airy.)
  • How to breathe well enough to support that tone, and to make your high notes and low notes sound like they’re coming from the same singer.
  • How to adjust the “placement” of your tone in various ways: forward or back, bright or dark, etc.
  • How to sing the various vowel sounds accurately–and how much more work that takes than you might think!
Singers Learning a Barbershop “tag” in Voice Class. 2023.

What to Bring

Do bring a bottle of water to keep your voice hydrated. And you might want to bring a notebook and something to write with.

How to Register

Admission is free, but we do ask that you sign up in advance. Seating is limited, and also, in the unexpected event that we should need to cancel or reschedule the event, we really need to know how to get in touch with everybody!

Follow this link to the sign-up form at Google Forms.

Why Don’t We Coach SINGING This Way?

Athletics is commonly taught in a class setting, and where student after another executes a move, and they all get coached in front of everybody.

Why don’t we teach SINGING like this? Why not teach it in a class where the students can learn quickly from each other’s successes and mistakes—and where the process of learning becomes NORMALIZED, rather than it being something to be ashamed of?

This method works great for sports, and it works great for singing, too!

This is the method we use at Sing Montana! for our Voice Camp for Teens, and we do it from time to time also in our various choruses. We also hope to roll out an evening Voice Class for adults. So many singers improve quicker under this method than they do in private (and costly!) voice lessons!

We’re trying to break out of the typical choral pattern, where the way the organization is run, it ends up catering to the very fears that it wishes could be overcome! That is, for fear of making the singers uncomfortable, corrections are targeted at the whole group, where they may be safely disregarded by everyone, including the ones most in need of hearing them—and then, not put into practice by anybody except the better singers who may have already been doing them!

And that’s a losing proposition! So, having learned it the hard way, we’re adamant at going after it the same way the better athletics programs do—where everyone’s expected to be a learner and self-improver, and where there’s just not room on the team for those who aren’t interested in that.

We understand that we could take a different approach, and opt for an experience that’s “safe” for everyone in this way. But I have never once heard a “safe” choir that sounds resonant and energetic like a great choir will sound!

Life is short; why not do something extraordinary while we are here?

What Are the Chances of Building a Really Great Choir?

A random choir from 1993. Were they really great? Credit.

Building a great choir is simply not easy! A great choir requires a sufficient number of sufficiently-skilled and a well-managed organization. You can build an OK choir with less, but really, who wants to build an OK choir?! I want choirs that don’t just get by and survive, but that thrive!

Continue reading What Are the Chances of Building a Really Great Choir?

Safer Than They Think

With what I do at We, Montana!, I get to see people overcome their fears quite often. And it’s both fascinating and rewarding to see it happen. This happens, too, with singers, and Freedom Choir is no exception. We’ve already seen several show up as whisper-singers and turn into soloists in just a few months’ time. So I offer up this poem for your general encouragement along these lines.

Safer Than They Think

by Jack Pelham

Many of the people I know
Are safer than they think.
In one way or another,
They shy away from dangers
That are barely real —
If they are real at all—
Or from a past that can be
Neither present nor future
But with their help.

Continue reading Safer Than They Think

They Come Together

I think that Freedom Choir is an amazing extravagance, that so many come together to expend such effort on making so many details just so. And it’s about so much more than the music—which theme I’m sure I’ve touched on in several poems, including this one.

They Come Together

by Jack Pelham

They come together,
These people,
Each beautiful in their various ways,
Offering up their strengths
As gifts to us all—
Having received them
As gifts themselves.

Continue reading They Come Together

If You Could See

As so many in this world struggle with inconfidence and insecurity when it comes to singing in public (and whatever else!), I wanted to share this poem on that topic–and probably a few others, too. It’s about what happens to our difficult emotions when we put our focus on some external and worthy cause. You can click on the category “Poems” above to see what else might be posted here.

If You Could See

by Jack Pelham

If you could see what I see,
You’d be all in.
You’d drop your hesitance
And shake off the inattention
And push yourself to do your best—
Which, as it turns out in this real world,
No one else can do for you.

Continue reading If You Could See