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. 

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.