Sunday, March 12, 2017
Musical Monday - Seating/Standing Arrangements for Success
We have been using a form of the top suggestion since we began. We just moved our parts around. Tenors & sopranos are in front and altos & basses in the back. When we changed to this after having been static for some time, all of a sudden everyone could hear the other parts better. What Kristy & I decided was that we needed to move people around more often. After many changes and trials I think I have a good idea of what works for amateur choirs.
1. Ideal - you guessed it. The ideal way to sing with maximum blend is with everyone standing with someone not singing their part. Kirby Shaw liked his people to stand in quartets. Personally, I feel people should just stand where each can hear well and blend well.
2. Beats - there are people who should not stand with other singers. It is really important that you listen to how people blend and that you empower your singers to listen for how their voice FEELS next to another singer. Some vibrations or beats between voices just don't jive. There is a disconnect and jarring with those voices. Not matter what you want for a seating/standing plan, sometimes you have to really pay more attention to the vibes!
3. Height etc. - you have to make certain people can comfortably see the conductor. Remember that the direction is what keeps everything on track no matter where people are. We have one singer who sometimes needs to sit on a stool. We have another singer who has difficulty with focus unless close to the action. Individual needs must be accommodated.
4. Distance - you need to go to the far reaches of your rehearsal space and see what the sound is like. Then stand close by and see what you hear. Change accordingly.
5. Input - ask the singers. How do they feel in each position. We have decided that we want to change our spots quite often. Change has enhanced our ability to hear and blend. As we change, we hear things differently and that is always good. I can get too set in my ways and the singers are great at encouraging change for good.
6. Record - using your recording devise will give you a objective ear for the sound that results from placement among other variables. Let the choir hear these recordings so they can adjust accordingly.
All in all, please have fun. Enjoy the music you are making and don't be too bossy as the leader. If you have a huge group then you may have to keep the numbers in mind to make certain that a good blend is still happening. Just keep trying lots of ways to make music better by giving your people the best chance to hear, blend & see well. The finished product is the true tell of just how things are going.