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SINGING IN THE CHOIR THE INDIVIDUAL Personal development is the key to corporate advancement.

If our choir is going to do well both technically and ministerial, then, as we will see later, all joints must supply as equally as possible. So before we begin to talk to the whole choir we will start with the individual choir member. 1. Evaluate Your Voice: It is important that before you start, you should realistically evaluate your voice. Try to identify what is wrong either by listening to a recording of your voice or let someone who will not be trying to please you and who knows what good singing is all about listen to you and point out your faults. Do not try to defend yourself with excuses, graciously accept that you have a deficiency if there is any. That is the best way to start. 2. Set Realistic Goals: You are not going to start singing like a pop star right off. In fact if you dont have the vocal range of Donnie Mcklaukin, you probably cant train yourself to have that range. The best you can hope for is to improve your current singing voice. 3. Learn Proper Breathing: The biggest mistake people make in singing has to do with breathing. You have to take big deep breaths so you can have enough air to carry the notes. Shallow singing or singing just from your head will strain your vocal cords and make you sound nasally. 4. Use Correct Stance: believe it or not, the way you stand can affect your singing voice. When you sing make sure you are standing up with your feet shoulder width apart. Your trunk, neck and head should be in alignment. 5. Warm Up Daily To Stretch Yours Vocal Cords: You should practice singing each day so your vocal cords can get used to being used in new ways. This should consist of 5-10 minutes of soft, gentle singing. A good vocal warm up exercise is to sing a syllable such as la on the first five notes of a scale, then back back down. Start low and go up one half step after you complete each scale. Start with notes that are comfortable for you to sing, and then each day try a not a bit higher. You can practice singing scales or you can use one of your favourite songs within range. 6. Sing From Your Belly: The power of your voice comes from your core in your stomach and back, and not from your lungs, shoulders or mouth. Practice bringing notes down into your belly and then feel the difference. Drop your jaw and relax the muscles in your jaw, face and neck when yyou sing. This increases the area in whit the sound can resonate and allows you to hit a wider range of pitches. Muscle tension can cause your pitches to sound flat and thin.

7. Evaluate Your Progress: Once youve been practicing for a while, record yourself again or have that person listen to you again, and compare the old and new to see how your voice has changed. Do this every few weeks so you can evaluate if your exercise is working. 8. Practice Behaviors That Lead To Good Health. These behaviors include drinking lots of water each day, not smoking and not over exerting your voice. CHOIR VOICE BLEND One of the most important things a choir must have is what we call blend. The choir is made up of several people with different pitch levels, different singing abilities, different volume levels etc. these people are expected to sing together and make good music. For the choir to sing good, they must be able have all these differences brought together to sound like one. Most people are more interested in harmonies ie having the choir sing in parts. But if the choir harmonizes but does not blend, youll not have good music. So what is blending? That is, everyone singing with the same volume, pronouncing words the same way, breathing the same way and for the same length of time and beginning and ending words and lines together. However, no attempt should ever be made to brighten or darken the tone. Singers should always maintain a clear tone with a normal speech-like depth. In blending its not the vocal technique itself that should be modified or restrained, but the degree or level of individual vocal expression that is produced. If youre going to have a good sounding choir, nobody can be sticking out. A singer in a choir shouldnt want to stick out, that would destroy the concept of choir. So instead of rushing into parts singing, if you want to build a good choir, learn to blend. This will take a little discipline on the part of the choir and patience on part of the director. People want to show up, they want everyone to know how good they are, making them do what everyone is doing is not usually easy. The choir is like a chain, and all the individuals in the choir are the individual links that make up the chain. If one link is bad, the chain is bad. So each member of the choir is important and must seek to develop themselves along with every one else, or the choir will not be able to move forward. Breathing Exercises For your choir to sing optimally, good breathing is essential. It helps to sustain long phrases, develop vocal blend and quality like I mentioned earlier and

helps in successfully executing the music's interpretation. By starting rehearsal time with warm-up breathing exercises, your choir will grow in its abilities and confidence. Just as deep breathing is important to athletes, it is equally vital for singers, and vocalists can reap better health benefits from proper breathing. Deeper and Deeper To sustain lengthy phrases, the singers must have plenty of air, yet breathing should be as quiet as possible so there are no audible intakes or gasps of breath. Singers must learn to take deep breaths and slowly allow the air to escape while sustaining notes or phrases. You can use this example to teach deep breathing. Instruct the singers to completely fill all air cavities in the abdomen, around the rib cage and lungs. Singers are encouraged to continue to intake air even though they may feel they are about to burst. Then quickly, instruct them to release it all on a loud "hiss." As the choir develops its abilities to breathe very deeply, they will learn to control the volume of the expelled air, and thus, learn to breathe quietly and deeply. Some singers may feel a bit light-headed after the exercise, but with practice, this feeling will pass. If any discomfort occurs, simplify the procedure. Scale Exercises Singing scales is an effective tool for developing deep breathing. Begin with five-note ascending and descending scales in the middle range from A below Middle-C to E above Middle-C. Start with a round vowel such as "Oh." Vary the exercise with other vowel sounds. With each rehearsal, raise the pitches. To increase the difficulty, use the letters of the alphabet on those five-note scales. Vary the tempo and raise the pitch after each series. Conduct your choir in an arpeggio scale, starting at G below Middle-C through G above Middle-C singing Ha-ha-ha using an explosive attack on each "H." Begin with two repetitions, then increase until they can sing it four or five times without taking a breath. Practice Breath Control When breath is quickly released, singers run out of air and the musical phrase is left dangling in mid-air. Use this example to illustrate: Blow up a balloon then quickly release the air and watch it squeal and flit about the room. The human voice will squeak and rapidly run out of air when released quickly. By practicing breath control, singers will increase their air reserves and learn to time the release so the whole musical phrase is supported. Staggered Breathing

Staggered breathing is sometimes unavoidable, especially in church choirs where members most times have little or no formal training. It is best to rehearse this prior to performance so everyone knows when they may breathe. Have singers within each section decide their limit and mark their music with a small apostrophe where they may breathe. For example, one group of sopranos may take their breath after four bars, and another group breathe at six bars. This ensures the musical phrase will be covered by at least several people. Ideally, the choir will breathe together after specific phrases, but this is not always possible. Always bear in mind the age, experience and training of your choir members as you work to build better deep breathing techniques.