Sunday, March 15, 2015

Musical Monday - Who, What & Why Are the Voices in YOUR Choir?

Some time ago, we had a post on the SATB choir & fun explanations of each part.    Indeed, each part brings a special sound and character to the choir.  I have had the joy and pleasure of singing in or conducting all kinds of choirs from female triple trios to boys' choirs and every type of mixed choir both sacred and secular.  One thing I know for sure is that there is no one "type" of choir better than another.  Every kind of choir has strengths for the music chosen.  If you have a specialty choir you may need to just take the general ideas here.  This is more directed to community type choirs.

1. Men - In case you hadn't noticed, men & women bring very different characteristics to a group.  In my experience, often the women feel more comfortable with singing in a group while the men are more hesitant.  The guys often think they must be correct & perfect before they execute any activity.  Making mistakes is not something they do easily or happily.  It is incumbent upon the fellow members and the leader to create an atmosphere conducive to accepting best efforts.  Mistakes are absolutely necessary and important.  Without mistakes, you don't learn.  Period.
Men will often say that they are interested in singing but they "can't" sing.  They have had negative school experiences or have avoided musical activities all together.  Again, we must create an atmosphere of inclusion for all skill levels.  Even in a professional choir, you will have people who are at a variety of levels of ability even with identical educational backgrounds.  STILL you must allow for that comfortable learning especially with the males until you build more and more confidence.  That will spill over into newer members and new endeavours.
Image result for lady singing clipart2. Ladies - I have found that ladies usually come with more confidence in their abilities and actually some with so much that it can become overpowering.  We have a few ladies in our choir who are professional level singers but who, blessedly, know how to blend with the voices around them.  Now, that is true professionalism.  However, there are some who are the "Mrs. Sketchers" of the choir.  God bless Mrs. Sketcher.  When I came into our church choir, Mrs. Sketcher had been a staple of the senior choir for absolutely EVER.  She had a loud voice with a heavy vibrato and she knew every single piece of music ever written (at least I thought so) and sang each at top volume and vibrato.
In addition to the building of skills and confidence mentioned above, listening skills are absolutely important.  Check out some of the ideas from a previous post.   Even while encouraging the listening and blending among other skills, we must love and support the Mrs. Sketchers and help them to be even better.  Not easy but oh so important.

3. Young people - Yes, young is less than the average age of the people in your core group.  Whether your young people become members of the choir or are added to the choir for specific songs or performances, they add immensely to the sound and the energy.  Our junior choir joined the senior choir at church for special occasions and we sang separately AND together.  The kids loved singing with the bigger voices.  Often, we used the young peoples' music & added the senior sound.  We sometimes used rhythm instruments or sang certain verses.  I have used a large children's choir to co-perform in large concerts with an adult choir.  Yes it was lots of work to get just the logistics of rehearsals and songs organized with the other group but it was a super experience.  It really helped with ticket sales for any of you having trouble filling a hall.  It also injected energy and enthusiasm through both choirs and brought a renewed sense of fun to the music.

These are but a few generalizations but those that seem to be prevalent in most singing groups.  Review in your mind how your choir is working, and see if some of these suggestions might make a difference.  Sing for joy & be certain your choir is not only learning but thriving both as a group and individually.

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