|Getting the most out of your campfire singing|
|The Best Camping Songs|
|Teaching Guitar with the Campfire Songbook|
|Easy Guitar Song Book|
|Guitar Tab Version|
|Banjo Tab Version|
|Mandolin Tab Version|
How to Get the Most Out of Campfire Singing
Organizing campfire singing can range anywhere from a spontaneous, spur of the moment event, to a well thought out program. Some of the most enjoyable singing of camping songs has been spontaneous as well as organized.
My siblings and their families would be sitting around a campfire after a good day of fishing on Henry's Lake (near Yellowstone). My brother, Brad, would get out his guitar, and I would play my banjo or guitar. Mom would ask if we could sing "You Are My Sunshine", and from there we would move to "I've Been Working on the Railroad." Mom likes to sing harmony on those two songs. Usually, we would end up singing 7 or 8 songs. I am pretty good at figuring chords out for accompaniment with most camp songs, so we don't usually use music.
I have also organized singing and used scout songs for some Boy Scout camporees. They weren't really that much more organized than our family sing a longs.
My suggestion, if you want to be more assured of a good experience, is to be organized before you get there. You can begin by asking someone to be prepared to play the guitar for accompaniment. Choose a few camp fire songs and let them know ahead of time. Get them a copy of the music.
If you want to go the extra mile, you could have several people bring their guitars. Even better, add a banjo, ukulele, autoharp or mandolin. Or all of the above. You can get an awesome sound with a whole group of accompanying instruments. You could even add a violin.
If you decide to add a melodic instrument (an instrument that can only play one note at a time, and will most likely play the melody), they can play the melody while everybody else is singing. They could also play a chorus or verse between the verses that the singers are singing.
One thing that helps, is to make sure the instruments are in tune with each other. The instrumentalists should know how to tune up their instruments with each other.
Also, the musicians will probably need copies of the music, unless they have learned the chords or melody before hand. If they are just playing the chords, you can just give them the copies with just the words and chords. They will only need the copies with written music if they are playing the melody.
If the players can't read music, but do know how to read tablature, you can give them the music in tablature form. You can find the songbook in tablature at the guitar, banjo and mandolin tab pages. Only the melody is given in tablature form. The players should already know the chords for these songs. I have made a special effort to use mostly the simple, open chords for all of the songs in the Campfire Songbook.
If you are planning a campfire for a lot of people, you should probably use more than one instrument. For more than 30 people, I would use 2 or 3 guitars, or other accompanying instruments. It also depends on how far the group is spread out. The more people you have, the more instruments you should use.
Another solution to a large group is to use amplified instruments. If you do, there is the problem of electricity. You could find a current bush! A generator is also a possibility, but they can be kind of loud, and detract from the campfire. You would probably be better off singing a cappella, (without accompaniment). I personally would rather use acoustic instruments only, and use several. It just doesn't seem right to me to use an electric guitar out in the great outdoors. But I have to confess that I have done it a couple of times myself. If you do, just be considerate of other campers. Most people go camping to get away from it all. If you go camping to get away from it all, be sure not to bring it all with you!
What about those who won't sing? You can get others to sing if you'll sing. But if they don't, it's not the end of the world. There are no campfire song police to monitor the group. This is not school; if somebody doesn't want to sing, don't force it on them. Let them enjoy the experience as a listener.
Be sure to take a look at The Great American Campfire Songbook. It's a great resource; filled with over 80 of the best, most requested camping songs.
Most important: have fun. Don't take it too serious and enjoy the journey!
Copyright 2009 Roger Turner- All Rights Reserved