September lies in wait after August. It’s time to think about the singing that lies ahead, whether you’re in front of the choir or in front of the director.
And what’s a rehearsal without a warm-up?
The ascending five-note warm-up is the old grey mare in the singer/director/s stable!
Remember your first voice placement screening? Indeed, most of us start on a comfortable low note and go up by half-steps until the some alto puts her foot down or our own voice gives out.
Well, as many of us get ready for the fall choir season, why not try something new! Instead of going up and then down.
GO DOWN AND THEN UP!
And if that isn’t heretical enough, instead of working your way up by half-steps,
GO DOWN BY HALF-STEPS!
This is much easier on the voice. Singers inevitably associate rising pitches with stress and start tightening and squeezing every available muscle Just keep it light and easy, musical and pleasing.
After you’ve gone down for a while, go back to the starting point and go up. The pattern is still five DOWN and back up. Your basses and altos will love you, even if the sopranos and tenors have to hold off on their soaring. You and your singers will be more relaxed, especially if no one has been doing much singing over a summer break.
Remember, warm-ups should be easy and relaxed whether performed in the shower (where I sound magnificent!), in the car (where I focus on the relaxation aspect), or in a rehearsal.
So, stand your warm-up on its head! I promise you’ll love it.
In some parts of the world, May seems like a long time coming. Here’s an amusing performance of Praetorious’ Philou. Enjoy it as a pleasant reminder of the secular that ran alongside the sacred, which we sometimes forget. And a celebration of multi-tracking, if that’s your pleasure.
I’m not a great reader of sermons. (Actually, not a great listener either.) However, Fr. Cipolla of St. Mary’s, Norwalk, Connecticut provides a lovely meditation on the risks and rewards of beauty in the search of truth and goodness.
It’s over at Rorate Caeli and is definitely worth a read by those who love fine liturgy and music.
Many thanks to Fr. Cipolla, a man who always knows what he’s talking about.
Have you wondered about the Ward Method? Thought it might change the way you teach music with children? For the better? Did you do the basic course and you want to take it further?
The Church Music Association of America (CMAA) is offering you a chance to find out about Ward and take your practice deeper this summer at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, June 26-30, 2017.
There will be two courses offered.
Ward Method I – That All May Sing will be taught by Scott Turkington. Participants will learn the basic principles and the practice of this method developed by Justine Ward in the early 20th century and how it can be used with our 21st century children. Its fundamental principle is that all children can learn to sing, not just those with natural gifts.
Ward Method II – Intermediate moves beyond the first year. Wilko Brouwers will share his expertise and experience with the method to pass on more advanced techniques. It will expand on the training in Ward Method I.
Both Scott Turkington and Wilko Brouwers are experienced and gifted teachers, not only of children, but of teachers as well.
The CMAA is convinced that this method has great value for developing future generations of singers, both those in the choirs and those in the pews. You can be part of that project.
You can learn more details about the courses and register at musica.sacra.com by following this link: CMAA Summer Courses.
Help the past and the present build our musical future!
The Easter Vigil (Resurrection Matins and Divine Liturgy) is a marathon that makes the Roman Catholic vigil resemble a walk in the park.
The link below comes from Georgia (the country, not the state), where John Graham, a historical musicologist, lives and leads cultural tours. Click on different bits on the videos from this monastic celebration. It’s really rough, “guy music,” at its Caucasian best. Enjoy it!
Most of us agree that the training of future singers is of paramount importance for the continued revival of fine sacred music. The Ward Method is a proven system for developing young voices to sing with understanding and a beautiful tone.
Right now, the Church Music Association of America has commissioned a new songbook for use with the Ward Method.
AND YOU CAN HELP MAKE IT HAPPEN!
Any donations received by June 1, 2017 will be matched by a generous donor up to a total of $5,000. Every dollar you give will be doubled. No donation is too small.
Why not head over to the CMAA website devoted to this project and learn more about “Now I Walk in Beauty”? And we hope you’ll be able to help. If you’ve already contributed, many thanks!
What better way to start off the New Year than with great music, terrific directors, and good company? January 2-6, 2017 is the time, Birmingham is the place.
You can find all of these if you attend the Winter Sacred Music 2017 conference in Birmingham, Alabama. Scott Turkington and Nick Botkins will be leading classes in chant and polyphony (two each). The culmination of you and your companions’ efforts will be an Ordinary Form Mass for the Memorial of St. John Neumann on January 5th and an Extraordinary Mass for the Epiphany on January 6th, both at the splendid Gothic Revival Cathedral of St. Paul. In addition, Dr. William Mahrt will offer breakout lectures that will deepen your understanding of the history and role of our great patrimony.