Conference Morsel: Movement and Choral Artistry
Date: March 19, 2014
(An excerpt from the interest session “Ten Keys to Unlocking Artistic Choral Performance,” presented by Frank F. Eychaner during the 2014 ACDA Eastern Division Conference)
Rehearsing and performing using a variety of movement exercises will powerfully impact the artistry of a choral performance. The applications of movement in our choirs are nearly endless.
Vocal technique is aided through the liberal use of movement in the rehearsal. Our gestural choices are limited only by our imagination and our artistic aims. Point, spin, lift, flick, conduct, step, lean, shake, etc. Is the pitch flatting? Have singers point up while the hand slowly ascends. Is the tone wobbly? Mime smoothing the wrinkles from bed sheets. Is there a lack of accent? Invite your singers to hammer their fist upward into their downturned hand (a downward gesture will almost invariably cause flatting and a tension in the vocal mechanism). Is the tone lacking color? Have them make circles at their sides, sing into a barrel made of their arms or create an energy ball with their hands at the level of their navel.
Movement is also a powerful assessment tool. Have singers snap a cutoff, cue an entrance, trace the arc of a phrase or show dynamics with a gesture. You’ll know immediately if individuals understand the concept and any movement that singers are asked to execute in the rehearsal becomes a pedagogical gesture that the conductor can use from the podium.
Shaw and Noble both proclaim, ‘all music must dance.’ While there are technically flawless performances where the ensemble was motionless, we seldom hear an artistically mature and ‘moving’ performance where the singers are statue-like. Get moving!