Aha Moments!!

Week 3 of “Improve Your Singing” and it was an evening of wonderful “aha” moments. This week we started devising our Three Minute Technical Warm Up...

For those present and in the know... it is currently...

1. Roll Down

2. Stretch up

3.Splat/ hiss

4. Splat / Hey,Ha

5. Splat / Rolled R or Liptrill

6. Diamond of support check with pfft or primal sounds (groan, giggle, sob, sumo)

7. Tha

8. Tha jaw wobble

9. I e a o u

This will mean very little to you if you were not there... but perhaps something if you were, and there’s two weeks left so a couple more exercises to add then I’ll get a video of the full technical warm up to you...

So... this covered the first twenty minutes of the session!!!!! which was really about consolidation of the work done so far, with a little bit of Jaw/tongue independence work added in.

We looked at the Agnus Dei movement of the Duruflé Requiem and firstly examined the importance of having a continuous and active breath by not singing the phrases with words etc but rather concentrating on a splat breath and using a rolled R to understand just how much airflow is required when singing... the answer is always, more than you are currently using!! Aha!!!!

Then we took to vowels and the tongue exercise meant that all vowels were totally Aligned... this led to some gorgeous noises coming from the Altos and led to the question... what must we do to make sure this sound stays as lovely when we go to words... the answer... practise.. Aha!!!

We examined the large areas of music that have no singing in them and pondered on what the choir’s role here could be... we looked again at intention, the need to understand what you’re singing about, cinema screening, what the important roles for the conductor would be in this particular movement..

After two weeks of experimenting around blending, using eyes closed, imagining singing out of each other’s mouths and a half scramble, we went full on and introduced voice matching to the choir.

This tool used by professional choirs, barbershop choirs and those in the know is such a helpful aid to allow every member of the choir to use their own voice when singing and not feel either that they are inhibited (ie don’t want to overpower their neighbour) or that they must sing out more.. in both cases this creates vocal fatigue.

The choir were voice matched a section at a time - and then we sat and sang through the Agnus Dei again... what an incredible difference!! By being involved in the process the choir heard how much more balanced the sound was with the other sections and it ended up being the biggest aha moment of the evening with members not wanting to leave at the end but hanging around and wanting to discuss their experiences.

This course has so far been truly inspirational to lead, I had an idea of where it might go, a plan and a route map and as always it has thus far shown other beautiful unexpected areas.

There are only two more sessions left, i for one can’t wait to see how they unfold..

And I CAN confirm today that I have started putting together lots of this information into an outline for a book - with the current (as of today) working title “Supercharged Choral Singing” which will have chapters on vocal technique, performance technique, score preparation, blend, overcoming concert day nerves and more.. watch this space!!!

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