Intonation IX - Calibrating the Ear--John Goldsmith
May 23, 2013
John Goldsmith is a terrific musician, directs the Heinz Chapel Choir at the University of Pittsburg, and teaches the musicianship courses for the Music Department. He was a member of Chanticleer and sang with Robert Shaw in France. If you wish to reach him directly about his workshops, contact him through his email address at the University of Pittsburg.
I first came across John's Calibrating the Ear--Developing Tonal Memory workshop material through Simon Carrington, requested a copy (which John gladly gave), and then met him briefly at a NW ACDA Conference. I've used these exercises with my choirs at PLU and found them valuable. I haven't used them since coming to UNT but, now that I'm reminded about them with this blog series, plan to this fall! I highly recommend them. This is the first of two parts:
Definition: Tonal memory is the ability to accurately sing back long phrases of melodic line after one hearing. This ability develops into the skill of singing in tune
Choral Caffeine: Professionalism Defined
May 22, 2013
Though the following comments are from an article on professional aviators, they are applicable to professionalism in every walk of life – including choral conductors.
Professionalism is a way of thinking about your work. Professionals don’t just understand the tasks they’re being paid to complete, they understand how all the pieces of everything in their profession fit together … and why. A professional (at least to me) understands the subtleties that produce a near perfect product or experience, whether that’s installing new carpeting in a home — clean up after yourselves and make sure everything fits before you leave — or flying an airplane near Virga — slow the airplane before you get too close since significant turbulence is highly probable.
And professionals wear their label proudly because they don’t need someone to tell
ACDA Staff and Facility Safe
May 21, 2013
(Monday, May 20, 2013, 4:00 p.m. CDT) Despite massive devastation in various areas of the Oklahoma City metro area over the past 24 hours from a series of tornadoes, the American Choral Directors Association reports that the members of the staff and their families are safe. The ACDA national office in downtown Oklahoma City did not experience any damage.
Thank you to the many members of the choral community who continue to text, e-mail, and call out of concern.
ACDA Seeking New R&S Leaders
May 20, 2013
One of the greatest benefits of ACDA membership
is the opportunity to hold appointive or elective leadership positions in the Association. There are currently three openings within ACDA's national Repertoire & Standards structure:
Children's & Community Youth
Ethnic & Multicultural
Those interested in applying for these positions should submit a brief Statement of Intent outlining a vision for the future of the respective R&S area a résumé. Only electronic applications are being accepted. Send materials to Amy Blosser, National R&S Chair at email@example.com. Applications are due by JUNE 1, 2013
Intonation VIII - A Few Other Vocal Issues
May 18, 2013
A few other vocal issues to consider in terms of intonation:
- Extremes of range - moving to the top of any singer's range will be a challenge--vocally and therefore for intonation as well. This is an area that needs the kind of long-term vocal work that I've already described: vocalizes that help singers learn how to sing high notes well and modification of vowels, especially for sopranos as they move to the top of the staff and above (closed vowels will need to be more open) - these aren't short-term fixes (although if you've already been working on these techniques, sometimes a reminder is all that's needed)
- Music written in the passaggio or break -- this is too complex a topic for a brief blog, but we're speaking of the transitions from one register to another -- suffice it to say that you need to learn how to help your singers deal with this issue and it's always an area to consider when diagnosing intonation problems -- all singers will find it challenging to sing with
ChoralTech: The Creative Commons, and a Different Way to Share
May 17, 2013
As conductors, both we and our ensembles generate a tremendous amount of information - some of it in aural or visual performance, some of it in our research and program notes, and some in our presentations, journal notes and articles for professional organizations. In the past, we had only two options when it came to our own intellectual property: copyright it, in which case nobody could legally share it, or throw it to the winds without restriction, in which case it could be freely distributed, modified or copied. While these copyright options served an era in which copying, editing and redistributing were time- and resource-intensive work, computers and the Internet have made it much easier for our work to spread the world and influence others in a variety of ways. The Creative Commons organization
has developed and supports a method of intellectual property that's much more nuanced and appropriate to the digital sharing age. If you or your ensemble generate
Intonation VII - Rhythm & Ensemble
May 16, 2013
While I haven't exhausted the topic of voice and vowel, another area that intersects with intonation is that of rhythm/ensemble. As I mentioned early on, poor (or excellent) intonation has many potential causes. That's why we have to diagnose correctly what the underlying problem is and help the singers solve it, rather than just saying, "You're out of tune!"
Because of the way that unified vowels affects intonation (see this
earlier post), chords won't tune as well if the rhythm of the choir isn't crisp and together--because the vowels happen at different times and don't "line up" in such a way that all the overtones/partials line up as well.
There are two parts to this: understanding diction and that we don't really deal (technically) with words, but the sounds that make up words. "My country 'tis of thee" has five words, six syllables, but seven vowel sounds. The diphthong in the word, "my" means there are two vowels--if those vowels aren't together, the intonation
GUEST BLOG: "No More Straw Hats" by Joe Ceruti
May 14, 2013
It’s time to throw away the striped vests and straw hats! Barbershop isn’t just for old folks anymore!
If you haven’t been actively involved with the barbershop art-form, you might not be aware of the renaissance that has been taking place over the last 10 years. Lately, even the simplest forms of barbershop harmony are being used in classrooms around the world to teach a number of lessons, reaping a number of exciting benefits, including improved ear training, part independence, sight reading, visual awareness, recruitment of male singers, and so much more.
Barbershop harmony in the quartet and choral setting has been blazing a new path in high schools, colleges and universities, concert venues around the world, and has even taken its own place on the internet. Don’t believe me? Take some time to look into some of the hottest barbershop groups around today, including the Vocal Majority
38 Days on the Road
May 13, 2013
Concert tours are a relatively common event in the life of a college choir. The litany is familiar to many of us – long rides in a motor coach, pot-luck suppers in a church basement, warm receptions from concert audiences full of smiling alumni, and a welcome to a host home to end the day. Tours, usually the highlight of the choir’s season, last a week or two.
Imagine, if you can, a 38-day concert tour.
“They will see more of the country in these five weeks than they are likely to see for the rest of their lives,” said ONU’s choral director, Ben Ayling
. “We know this remarkable trip will elevate our program to new heights. I’m looking forward to playing ‘Santa Claus’ every day as we share great music all