A choir is a collective of different types of singers who approach rehearsals in very different ways: one can sing perfectly by sight, whilst another is always reliant on his or her neighbor. Some prepare for rehearsals at home, but most of the singers hope to get some direction from the conductor and practice their parts during rehearsals. Bringing together and shaping voices which have more-or-less secure intonation into a unified sound is a task which requires a lot of time and effort on the part of all involved.
In order to make this task easier, in recent years Carus has considerably expanded its range of new, motivating practice aids. Under the keyword “carus plus” practice aids are now available to suit the different needs of singers for over 70 works from the international standard repertoire – from Bach’s St Matthew Passion to many masses by Haydn, Mozart, and Schubert, and to Saint-Saëns’ Oratorio de Noël.
“How can we exploit the possibilities offered by new media to support individual practice for choral singers?”, asked Johannes Graulich, managing director of Carus-Verlag, and himself an active choral singer. As a response to this, carus music, the choir app was created in 2015, and has since gone on to become established as a helpful practice aid for thousands of choral singers. What is special about this app is not only the combination of music with an excellent recording, but in particular the so-called “coach”. If you select the coach mode, your own voice is reinforced by the piano as part of the overall sound, and through this it can be heard better as if you are in a rehearsal situation. As well as this, with the coach it is also possible to play pieces back at a slower tempo for practice purposes. “The app helps choral singers to learn the notes quicker so that I have more time for my interpretation”, is how conductor Klaus Brecht sums up practicing with the digital coach. He added, “when it comes to repeating passages, it is more patient than me; each singer can decide how he or she wants to use it.” Lots of singers in Brecht’s chamber choir Tritonus confirm that preparation for choir rehearsals is definitely more fun with carus music: “It was really fun to have the opportunity to practice the piece with the full sound at home”, one of the singers enthused. And one advantage which should not be underestimated – the choral singers, whose daily life is not exclusively devoted to singing, valued the straightforwardness of the app: “When you’ve got some free time you can have a quick listen, and you’ve got the music right there.” Those choral singers who learn their parts mainly by listening see the coach as an invaluable support.
Choral director Klaus Brecht regards the fact that first-class ensembles such as the Stuttgart Kammerchor can be heard on the app as a huge advantage: “Intonation is a strong reason to practice with the app, because you’re always practicing with a choir which has excellent intonation. And the difference between practicing with the piano is the fact that the singer is always surrounded by a very good choral sound, which hopefully soon filters down to him or her.” For choral singers a similar motivating argument: “I found my first listening to the piece super, because the recording is lovely and I always had the overall sound right there,” enthused one singer.
Here you could find all works with carus plus.
Encouraged by the enthusiastic reception of the choir app, Carus-Verlag gave further thought to the idea of the individual practicing: so that those who do not have smart phones or tablets can benefit from the coach, this is now also on offer in the form of practice CDs in the “Carus Choir Coach” series.
And we have responded to a frequently-heard wish from choral singers regarded printed music scores: for many works Carus also offers vocal scores in large print – the Vocal scores XL series – enabling, for example, singers with less than perfect eyesight to enjoy more relaxed reading.
Klaus Brecht’s chamber choir is convinced by the carus plus range without exception: “we’ve definitely saved two to three rehearsals with what everyone has done at home”, was one soprano’s opinion of practising with the app. And there was unanimity amongst the singers in the chamber choir, especially about the fun and motivation factor of carus music, the choir app, as one alto confirmed: “It’s really been fun to practise, because you can always hear this wonderful choir. And so I’ve certainly practised more than normal.”
What more could a conductor ask for?