Monday, October 16, 2006

"Think about the words!"

From another choir blog. Jonathan Miller was working with the DePaul acapella ensemble this week in preparation for their concert. Here are some of his reflections on his coaching session. (read more here)

I was struck afterward by what found myself repeatedly saying: "Think about the words! Think about the feeling! What are you singing about? What is the style that you are trying to express here?" Sometimes as a coach I get hung up on tuning or vowel matching, but this session felt like it was all about style. It was the first time I felt like I understood first-hand an comment I had first heard about three years ago, a comment at which I had first bristled. The charge was something like this: "Young American singers are not very adept at distinguishing one musical style from another in their singing." In other words, our aspirants sing most things pretty much the same. Ouch.

I think there are three keys to success in our upcoming concert, besides repetition on the Bach:

1. Execution: We have repeatedly rehearsed the exact right thing to do. It is now up to the choir members to do it--to fully engage their minds and perform at an optimum level.

2. Meaning: Let the words of the text and nuances of the musical composition infect you with their full meaning. Once you embrace the whole of the composition, put everything you have into making it understood by our audience.

3. Mastery: We are strong as a choir but weak as individuals. Each weak individual must master the notes they do not know and watch the director. I was very surprised that there were those that had to look at the music on pieces they know on Saturday evening. Every individual must shore up their part and make our strong choir even stronger.

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