Friday, November 25, 2011

Harmonizing with Different Voices

singing choir

Never have I thought that my small community choir could soon take advantage of utilizing the vocal ranges. Singing in a four-part voice is something that I think was impossible for a small group like us could ever consider.

For several years, we went on serving church "masses" and singing for choir services in two-part voices or frequently in unison. It was so difficult for everybody to reach the notes that are not really meant for some of us to sing. Untrained about the vocal range, we try to sing beyond what our voices can never really perceive. Guys sing farther and higher through their deep warm tones. The ladies try to pitch themselves down to achieve the low notes despite their high and angelic voices. A terrible mismatch as you can see!

Curious on the trouble we are facing, I started looking for answers. May be, there is someway to straighten out the situation.

So I looked into several books and surfed to various websites for the answer. Only then I realized the bottom line of our problem. We do not make use of what is written in the song books that we use. That is, taking into account the voices as written by the composers - SATB! Vocal range as they call it.

So then, why didn't we thought about that in the first place?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Avoiding crammed rehearsals

One thing that me and my choir didn't realize before that we are always in a rush when we practice our repertoire. As if we were crammed to finish all the songs that will make up our list for the coming Sunday mass. In the end, we fail to deliver the songs as they were supposed to be performed and a disapproving congregation will soon reach our ears.

So, I asked myself, "What am I missing?.... Is it my choir not able to absorb the things that I taught them? Or am I too lax in the way I handle them?"

I decided to put an end to it and started analyzing weighing on things that might alleviate the problem.

One solution that I found was to map out our year round activity since the Catholic "Masses" are celebrated based on a theme and follows a certain season.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Be sharp and on the dot!

It has been two (2) years since we started following a standard protocol in time, we have minimized the chances of tardiness in our ministerial services and rehearsals. Tardiness is a common scene for some groups.

Overtime, we have witnessed the group’s tendency to follow what we call “Filipino time”. If you know how DST (day light saving time) works, this one goes the opposite way. Coming a few minutes to an hour late was so termed and a shameful word to have been implied by us ‘Pinoys.’

Being on time or at least a few minutes early before the agreed schedule has so many perks. It assures your attendance to a specific event. It imbibes a character of being punctual and true to your word. Moreover, it seals a continuous flow in a day’s work away from further delays. Less tasks for the following days.

My choir has followed this standard procedure when we have scheduled performances and services to the church (Catholic). An hour before our schedule is our optimum time to have departed from our meet-up location. We give (at least) a 15-minute grace period for everyone to get to our meeting place. Most of the time, we travel in groups when we attend to our services and we do enjoy most of it.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Observing and listening to others

Just like any form of communication, listening and watching other people talk will help you understand what the other is conveying to his listeners. It is only through silence that you will be able to hear the emotions and appreciate the ideas of the deliverer of the message.

Given this thought, an idea came up to me. If we are to listen to various choral groups all around the city or even within our own vicinity, this could entail the possibility for us to understand how these groups sing differently from each other. In some way, we will be able to pick-up the good ones and apply in our own technique. Or even take on the bad ones and improve and develop from then on. In summary: observe, adapt, improvise.

We had the opportunity to visit a few churches in the Metro and we've seen several groups that may have the edge in choral singing.

Throughout the series of our visits, we have seen different methodologies and techniques though not as perfect as the world renowned groups like the Philippine Madrigal Singers or Loboc Children's Choir, their way of singing is a good point to start from.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Vocal Exercise

Vocal exercise is an essential part of a choir's training routine. It is at this point that the vocal chords and all parts that make up your voice are prepared for the actual singing performance. Just like any form of physical exercise, your voice should be warmed-up before engaging in the actual activity.

Vocalizations should follow after the breathing exercises and lip drills and right before the proper rehearsal of the song of choice.

When we vocalize, we aim to reach different portions of voice training.

First, we aim to create a seamless transition of the vocal registers by passing through a series of these exercises that will guide us in resonating the right sound corresponding to the played tune. Bridging two vocal registers is something that is difficult to achieve without vocal training and takes a long time to get over with. The voice will break apart when an immediate transfer between registers are called upon that puts so much stress on our chords. This is what we called in tagalog term "piyok."