Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tonal Tuesdays - Memory Work

Mack the Knife: The Complete Ella in Berlin

One of the goals we have as a choir is to perform our pieces from memory.  I do have the music in front of me so that I can mouth the words.  Soloists don't have that luxury as they are usually out there alone.  I know if you let your mind wander or you think too hard about the words they fly away.  There is a great story about Ella Fitzgerald who was doing a live recording of her concert in Berlin and the words to Mack the Knife escaped her and the ensuing improvised words became very famous and won Ella a Grammy.  Mistakes are just opportunities for creativity.  Check out Fun Friday this week to hear her sing this famous song with her version of the words.  Listen closely.

When you are singing in a group, you aren't as able to be creative in that way.  You really do want to know the words.  I have taken the suggestions for soloists and reworked them for choir members.
We do have our practices on CD now and so we have at least one recording of each of our songs.  We also have the printed music for each song.

1. Be sure to have your CD or iPod to listen to and the music to the song you want to work on.  Have a pencil, highlighter and writing paper with you.

2. Listen to the song all the way through marking where there are choruses, bridges (that contrasting section between 2 verses).  In other words, pay attention to the parts that are the same and parts that are different.

3.  With your pencil or highlighter, listen again and this time, listen for the words that repeat and times when there are changes to the words.  Especially mark the words that you find are surprising or different than you might have expected.  For example, when we were doing  Purple People Eater and I kept wanted to sing my childhood words "FIVE Purple People Eater" instead of the correct "FLYIN' Purple People Eater". I still have to think about those.

4. This is optional but if you choose to take the time, you will have the words down in no time.  Listen again to the song and start writing out the words.  This may be a start and stop kind of exercise.  Remember, if your hand writing is terrible, it doesn't matter.  This is for no one but you.  The writing will merely focus your mind on the words.  Incidentally, you will be singing your part and reinforcing that as well.
Smiley emoticon writing on paper

5.  Finally, hide the paper and the printed music, put on the CD and sing.  Note where a word or two gives you pause but do not stop singing.  You will find that those words have become part of you.

Now this doesn't have to be done all in one sitting.  I will love to hear how you do with these suggestions.  Click on COMMENT below and tell me what happened.
Have fun above all!

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