Sunday, March 29, 2015

Musical Monday - Should You Use Recorded Accompaniment?

Image result for clip art recordingsAs a music teacher in schools, I seldom had a piano never mind a pianist to play it.  I am NOT as pianist.  I can thump out chords and simple accompaniment but not while my choir or class is singing.  Because I taught a few years ago before digital  recordings were common, I didn't have simple or small devises to carry around and use.  Even when I had a "music room" my equipment was basic and so using recorded singing accompaniment was very seldom part of the singing.

When we did musicals with young children or young adults, there were usually recorded accompaniments available and I avoided them at all costs.  Let's see how your ideas compare to mine.

1.  The Good - All of us have sung along with the radio.  If you are old enough and watched American television you even "Sang Along with Mitch".  Mitch Miller made the sing-a-long popular by having the words to the songs his band was playing show on the bottom of the screen.  Check out the video on Thoughtful Thursday and see.
However, I really think that after you have learned a song or sung it for fun, you need to get away from the restrictions of a recorded accompaniment.

2.  The Bad - I found that recorded music is SO unforgiving that I, never mind the children, get frustrated trying to sing with it.  Worst of all, if you get off the beat, it is almost impossible to get back on.  With a packaged accompaniment, it is well nigh impossible to be creative.  Doing a rubato or even a ritard where YOU and the singers feel it, is just not going to happen.  When someone drops the ball and misses an entrance, too bad so sad, the music moves on without you.  That inflexibility is just not what singers use well.

3.  The Ugly - If we have a song with some tricky parts, our amazing Kristy will pull out key notes especially as we are learning, so that the parts in question can find their entrances.  Oh that isn't going to happen with a recording.
When a rhythms get out of sync, the recording keeps going and only emphasizes
how bad it really is.  Your accompanist can thump out the right rhythm and you can get back on track.
If the singers are not in tune, the music carries on and there is little chance that they can find that RIGHT note.  the flexibility of a Capella or accompanied singing is so much more helpful.  Of course, the "live" accompaniment has to be on the same page as the singers.  When I went to an Il Divo concert, the conductor of the orchestra thought he was the act.  He forgot to pay attention to the singers.  They even looked over at him a number of times but it didn't help.  Maybe that time, a recording would have been better.

I know sometimes it recorded accompaniment may seem like THE answer.  I urge you to go without accompaniment or have an accompanist wherever possible.  Singing can be very stilted and non-creative otherwise.  What do you do?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Fun Friday - Gustavo Dudamel presents "Mambo"

A while ago we talked about "Proper Behaviour at Concerts".  What do you think about this?  I think if more orchestras were this lively, they would have no trouble filling the theatres and staying in business.  Thanks Elaine!!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thoughtful Thursday - Gustavo Dudamel - Batuque (Oscar Lorenzo Fernández)

I love this conductor.  He has life and excitement and it is reflected in the music the musicians make and the audience reaction.  It is a huge orchestra with a grand sound.  The audience LOVES them.  Check back tomorrow for something more. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Musical Monday - Why Can't I Sing?

Image result for clip art singersIf I had a dollar, even a Canadian one, for every time a person has said to me that they just can't sing, I would be rich.  Why is it that so many people really feel they can't sing?
There is a theory that it is actually a "brain" deficiency.  Click here to read that article.   This could be true and still the end of the article suggests that people could practise to get better.  
I think for the most part there are some much simpler reasons & solutions.
1. A negative comment - Truly it can be as simple as someone having said to the person that they sounded badly or shouldn't try to sing.  That can be very hard to overcome.  If you are told that you are no good at something, you take it as truth, period.
May I suggest that we make a concerted effort to catch people of any age at doing something RIGHT.  We are really good at catching mistakes and pointing them out.  I feel we really need to switch our thinking and look for what is well done even if you have to wait for a long time for it to happen.  Yes, you have to tell people when something isn't correct because they can't keep repeating the mistakes BUT make certain that the positive words are bigger, brighter and more important than the negatives.  e.g. Stop - that was incorrect.  Let's go back and make it sound like that last part of the song before where you really nailed those rhythms."  Focus on the right in correcting the wrongs.  Perhaps then we will have fewer people feeling badly about a mistake.  For heaven's sake, if we don't make mistakes we never learn.  Mistakes are KEY!  How we handle them in building people up will make a difference.

2. No tone matching skills - Although this is referred to in the article I mention above, I think there are many simple steps to help people.  One of the simplest is to encourage people to sing with a favourite song.  It is imperative that we help people find a song that works for them.  Some may be out of their range and so they will feel a failure if they use it.  Or some songs have such a "muddy" sound it is hard to hear the tune.  Have them give you suggestions for songs they like and perhaps play them together and figure out which ones will be best for learning to HEAR the right tones and then tone match.
If these people are in your choir, make certain they are surrounded by solid singers.  It isn't easy but very do-able.

3. Not enough opportunity to sing - That is very real.  If the adult never had the opportunity to sing as a child either at home or school then it will be much harder to learn the skills as an adult.  Children are more ready to learn and make the necessary mistakes.  Here you must create a comfortable learning environment and let the person be a child and discover music and singing.

I hope you sing all the time.  Make up songs, sing along with everything.  Sing to babies, dogs, children, other adults.  Sing because you can.  Release the negatives and sing.  Ta, da!!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fun Friday - Celtic Woman - You Raise Me Up

This is one of our favourite songs.  The ladies' voice bring a very different interpretation to this song.  What do you think?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thoughtful Thursday - One Voice Children's Choir: "Let It Go" from Frozen

This tells you why singing in a choir is really important.  It also shows that the production of really good sound takes work but oh how lovely it can be.