Retreat....Advance....we've called it many things and tried it many different ways, but what it all comes back to is a being a fun time for everyone who participates! What are we talking about? Well, each year we have a special weekend rehearsal, usually in preparation for our regional contest, where we often bring in a special coach to work with us on different aspects of performance. We've had retreats as short as 6 hours on a Saturday, to a full overnight weekend retreat at a hotel, to what we did this year, which was a full day event at Rockville Senior Center. We started with breakfast and COFFEE together, then a coaching session with the fantastic SAI Region 19 coach, Sarah Nainan-Newhard, bass of the Region 19 2018 champion quartet, Sound Design (https://www.facebook.com/pg/SoundDesignQuartet/). Then we had lunch and more COFFEE together, and more coaching and even MORE coaching! By the time Sarah was done with us, we had a script that was darn funny that we can't wait to share with our contest audience in Hershey this May. As coaching time drew to a close, we got this fantastic picture with Sarah. We were so grateful to have her join us for the day. Fun fact: The Heart of Maryland Chorus was the first SAI chorus Sarah joined 27 years ago!
But retreat was only half over and the fun had just barely begun. We had a yoga instructor join us to help stretch away those hours of standing around on risers, followed by a great group dinner catered by Mission BBQ Rockville (https://mission-bbq.com/) and more COFFEE! We played some games, had a talent show, and ended the evening with karaoke that really became more of a gang sing event to classic songs like American Pie, Piano Man, and The Rose. A good time was had by all! Retreats are special times when we get the chance to work hard to improve our performance skills, but the added bonus of just having some down time where we get a chance to spend some "non-work" time together and get to know each other better - that's really priceless.