Margaret Dylan Jones
W.A. composer, pianist,
teacher, article writer
Specialist in solving singing problems
for a wide range of musical styles
Singing for Choristers
voice is very different to the soloistic voice.
There are important
differences between solo and choral
voice production and if these differences are ignored a singer can
literally lose their voice. Ask me how I know that--or read below and
I'll tell you.
Singers with a soloistic voice who sing as choristers (that is, sing
in a choir as opposed to singing with a choir) create a
particularly complex situation that needs experienced management.
Let's start with the characteristics of the singing voice in a choir.
Even though they are not usually as loud as a solo singer, a choral
must have very precise pronunciation and diction, and must match these
with the other choristers. The multiple voices
within each section (soprano, alto, tenor or bass etc) must blend and
this won't happen without uniform vowel sounds. Good choirmasters pay a
lot of attention to how the area of the mouth opening (the lips) is
used, and they insist on exact co-ordination of consonants, especially
final consonants. Otherwise it's a mess.
The defining characteristic of a solo voice, on the other hand, is the
much greater development of the singer's formant.
This intense high-frequency component of the sound is what makes a solo
voice heard over a choir or an orchestra. It makes the sound 'carry.'
Soloists constantly alter their vowel pronunciation to enable better
resonance or to assist with gear changes. Getting them to blend even in
duets or small ensembles is a tricky task and depends a lot on voice
selection. (Careful voice selection is also crucial to choirs, but
they're selecting for different characteristics.)
These fundamental differences create a problematic situation if a choir
has one or more soloistic voices in its ranks. Choristers need to
blend, but soloists are practically hard-wired to stand out and they
will. If that is the only consequence, consider yourself lucky.
times when undergraduate singing students were forbidden to sing in
choirs because it was seriously affecting their voices, causing them to
lose resonance and become hoarse. Indeed, this happened to me when I
continued singing in choirs after beginning to learn solo singing
outside of my university studies, resulting in six weeks' of speech
therapy with a speech pathologist. (Although there were also several
underlying factors which contributed to me losing my voice.
So, if you are singing in a choir and want singing lessons
you need to see a teacher who understands this particular circumstance.
For many years I taught choir singers, who were in my two
one-to-one or shared lessons. I have some
special techniques for choral singing which I
don't usually teach to my solo singing students, unless they are also
in a choir.
Since May 2011 I've been living in the Perth hills, in the
Shire of Mundaring, Western
If you would like an initial lesson with me, contact me by
phone or email.
My mobile phone is 0414 374 701 (new from September 2010).
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