Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Tonal Tuesday - Lazy Choirs, Lazy Singers, Lazy Sound
Have you ever ridden on a tandem bicycle before? Have you ever peddled in a peddle boat? Both of these have two sets of peddles but work just fine with only one set being pushed. Both the bicycle and the boat go faster and more efficiently if both people work together more or less equally. A choir could be seen in much the same light. All of us are riding the same vehicle and are supposed to be helping it get to the destination.
Choir are like any team. We have our positions to play and we let the rest of the team down when we play with less than our best effort. Now, I know we are all aware of that theory but how does it happen that sometimes, we lose our team focus and become lazy and how does that get back on track?
1. Size - Have you ever seen a team with hundreds of players on the field at a time? Can't say as I have either. However, there are HUGE choirs out there. I remember saying in a conducting class once that a huge choir would be hard to work with. My professor said that in fact the opposite was true. Because there are so many voices, mistakes were less noticeable. Each person's contribution was less noticeable too.
With a smaller choir, each person's voice is more important. If you only have a few people in each part then the presence of each is paramount.
If you have a large choir then you really have to work at making certain the members all feel that their contribution is important.
2. Music - The choice of music really makes a huge difference here. The music needs to challenge without being so difficult that the singers are overwhelmed. When each singers feels a sense of accomplishment from learning a part that contributes to an overall exciting sound, then they stay sharp and alert and the sound and attitude remains positive.
3. Contributions - I thrive in a co-operative atmosphere. Oh yes I do have to be in charge but I love that our choir members contribute ideas for music and feel they can tell me when they are not happy with the sound or need more direction. They all know this is quite acceptable. Each person knows that his or her opinion and talent makes a difference.
4. Good Coaching - As directors, we have to keep our team enthusiastic and keep all players working to the best of their abilities. It is really important that our warm ups and training keep focused on making sounds correctly and always finding new ways to teach the physicality of making great sound.
5. Humour - You must have a sense of humour. When you make a mistake, be honest and say so. Instead of getting bent out of shape at a less than perfect sound, make a funny face or just stop and go back. Humour keeps things alive. Yes, you can be serious but enjoy the process. Just as you can joke while peddling like crazy, you can enjoy the work of teaching and learning great music and the process of making it as a unified team.
Keep having a great time making wonderful music. Mix it up and keep the interest high. If you choir doesn't get lazy then your sound stays bright and well tuned. No same old, same old for you and your singers.