Monday, November 12, 2018

How to work with a mixed group of music readers and non-readers

I always teach songs by ear. As a member of the Natural Voice Network, our ethos is to make singing accessible to as many people as possible. This means we never assume any prior musical experience or knowledge.

Handel and Haydn society 1893

But, sometimes there are music-readers in my singing groups who ask for the sheet music. How can you accommodate these demands whilst keeping the work accessible to everyone?

Monday, November 05, 2018

Why do I sound much lower (or higher) than the person next to me when singing the same part?

In choral singing, you often hear the term blend. Much attention is given to the shape of vowel sounds to help achieve blend.

John_Raitt_Rosemary_Clooney

However, the timbre of voice is perhaps even more important than vowel sounds. Why do two singers sound so different when singing the same thing?

Monday, October 29, 2018

How to find the balance between easy and challenging songs in a drop-in singing group

A drop-in singing group is exactly what it sounds like: singers don’t need to make a regular commitment, but can drop in any time they want to.

handout A5 PORTRAIT FRONT

I’ve written about before the pros and cons of these kind of groups. But here is what I’ve learnt from leading a monthly drop-in group for the last few years.

Monday, October 22, 2018

How to cope with too many male singers (a rare and unusual problem!)

It’s very common for choirs to be short of men. Most of my singing workshops attract far fewer men than women.

Mixed choir

But sometimes – very occasionally – loads of men turn up unexpectedly. Which can be a problem too. Here are some ideas for what to do.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Why you need many different ways of telling your singers the same thing

As I started yet another singing workshop, I realised that I say pretty much the same thing in the introduction each time.

repeated words

That got me thinking: if singers hear exactly the same thing too many times, they’ll just zone out. How can we avoid that?

Monday, October 08, 2018

Why are some ‘easy’ songs hard (and vice versa)?

Sometimes I start a singing session off with what I consider to be an easy song.

Alka-Seltzer_Song_Book
photo from Wellcome Images

But the group end up struggling and it turns out to be really hard! What’s going on here.

Monday, October 01, 2018

If you’re a man, do you have to be a ‘bloke’ in order to sing?

There are plenty of opportunities for men to sing together these days. They are called things like “Sing like a bloke” or you can even go to ‘BlokeFest’.

barbara furtuna

Does that mean that men have to be ‘blokes’ to sing? Of course not!