Guest post by Curran Mahowald, a choral singer who participated in Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 6 in May 2020
In the spring of 2020, Eric Whitacre assembled his sixth global virtual choir to premiere his new piece, “Sing Gently.” Following a series of virtual rehearsals led by Whitacre himself, 17,572 singers from 129 countries submitted videos of themselves singing their individual lines.
From there, a team of film editors and audio engineers from 59 Productions and Floating Earth assembled the individual submissions into one final virtual performance:
Here is what it was like to contribute my voice to that video.
You and your choir have worked tirelessly on uniform vowel formation, well-tuned singing, focusing the tone, singing correct notes, beautiful phrase lines. You’re feeling good. But step back and give a listen and you’ll often find there isn’t a consonant to be heard. It is our task as singers to articulate so the listeners can share in the delicious words and message.
We want clear, well-defined consonants in our singing and it’s a challenge to achieve. When our listeners know the text as in a well-known hymn or carol, we are understood because the context is known. This is far from the case when the text is unknown.
The topic of consonants is far-reaching, but here are a few tips I use in rehearsing in the English language with my volunteer choir.
A music retailer is asked every day for assistance with repertoire. It can be both challenging and amusing. For example: I need a thrilling SATB anthem for Easter Sunday with brass accompaniment, and the sopranos can’t sing above an ‘e.’ Can you make a suggestion?
We smile at this request, but it can be a reality for a choral director. Those of us who conduct adult church and community choirs deal with the aging voice constantly. It is a fact that with age, our singing mechanism does not improve. Yet, it is my experience that senior singers are some of the most devoted choristers, and the joy of singing is integral to their lives.
If we, as directors, wish to optimize this lifelong joy for our choristers, and ensure that the aging singer is a benefit to the ensemble, we need to offer tools that will optimize the singing voice as the body naturally and inevitably ages. more “Sing Better as You Age”…
In my many years of singing, I’ve realized that the topic of vocal range can be very tricky, but always worth discussing. A singer should invest in voice lessons if they want to improve; however, if lessons aren’t an option, there are a few tips that can help. I can’t guarantee you’ll be hitting the high notes like Mariah Carey by the end of this article, but hopefully you will learn something new!
Tip #1: Proper Placement
You cannot increase your vocal range in a safe and healthy way without learning how to sing with proper placement. If you’ve ever sung in a choir, you’ve heard the terms “sing in your mask”, “sing through your eye balls”, “sing through your cheekbones”, etc. As a singer, you want to take care not to sing from your throat and that you, essentially, sing from the same place you naturally speak from. One great exercise for this is more “How to Improve Your Vocal Range”…