Sunday, June 02, 2013

Two big ideas to create the perfect choir or singing experience

Singing is very simple really: you open your mouth and the sound comes out.

Manchester amateur choral competition 2009
Manchester amateur choral competition 2009 by chaosmunkey

But we often allow our heads (and doubts and expectations and fears and ...) to get in the way. Here are two big ideas that can help singers and choir leaders get the most out of singing.

1. behave as if you know what you’re doing

Even if you don’t think you know what you’re doing!

When I’m teaching a new song to a group, I’m amazed at how quickly people pick things up. But in the early stages of learning singers often sing very quietly and hesitantly because they don’t think they’ve got it. But that’s precisely the time to sing out loud and proud and to behave as if you’ve known the song for years.

You will be surprised how accurate you are, and if you do make a mistake it will be a big one which you can correct the next time round (as opposed to a quiet, hesitant mistake which you might not notice).

In performance, behaving as if you know what you’re doing will let you exude confidence which will sell the song, improve your tone and help you with better posture and breathing.

Choir leaders and teachers of songs: even if something’s new and untried or you’re not 100% sure of the song you’re teaching/ conducting, behave as if you know what you’re doing. You usually DO know it any way (see the next point). Behaving with certainty will give your singers the confidence to follow you. And if you do make a mistake it will show you are human (and not a perfectionist) and you will have the singers (and the audience) on your side.

2. you are capable of more than you think

... and you know more than you think.

We doubt our abilities much of the time: we think a song is too hard, or we haven’t really nailed it  yet, or we can’t possibly sing that high, or there’s no way we can remember those weird foreign words.

Yet, from my experience, most singers most of the time will rise to any challenge (especially if you don’t tell them how hard it is! – see How to get the best from your singers: don’t tell them it’s hard).

Choir leaders and teachers of songs: your singers are probably capable of tackling really hard material or of coping with a large range of notes. Don’t molly coddle them too much! Also, your definitely capable of teaching songs which might seem too hard to teach. Just break it down into small chunks and take it one step at a time.

Surprise yourselves!

other ideas

Do you have any other big ideas to throw into the pot? I’d love to hear from you, so please drop by and leave a comment. Let me know if you find these concepts at all useful. Thanks.

Chris Rowbury’s website: