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Gospel/Pop Singer in my choir

I have a small chorus club at a local college  with students who just want to sing.   They select the music with a final commentary from me.  Their tastes include Mozart, Thompson, movie thems, musicals and presently, a Beach Boys quartet for guys.  It is a wonderful group of students and I have done well so far with the many who join and do not read or carry a tune.   I work with them individually as well.   Just today a new girl decided she liked the sound and asked to join.  We are one month away from our first performance so I wasn't sure, but the president said yes.  It is an encouraging, inclusive club.   This girl has a lovely voice, but her experience is gospel.    I like the music, but I am still uncertain about how to teach her...she has asked for lessons...I need HELP because I want to do the right thing by her...I will focus on how to use her breath, but that isn't enough.   Suggestions????????
on April 1, 2014 4:11pm
Congratulations on having such a dedicated group!
 
I have two suggestions to begin with:
1. Make sure she understands the difference between styles - gospel, pop, classical, etc - and let her know as you work with her that this is not a case of replacing her style but of adding other styles to it. I have found that, if I don't make that destinction early, new, relatively inexperienced singers feel I am trying to replace what they are comfortable with and will tend to dig in their heels. You are not replacing, you are adding to!
2. Gospel is a belt style that requires spreading vowels as the pitch rises in order to remain in chest voice. Classical is style which requires consistently shaped, pure vowels as the pitch rises (yes, while lowering the jaw for the women - not the men because of different acoustic issues) in order to move smoothly into middle/head voice. Talk with her about keeping consistent vowel shapes until she gets to the top of the treble clef (give or take) then all vowels tend toward "ah," and let her know ahead of time that it will feel different, but that's ok.
 
Good luck, and let us know how things turn out.
 
Ray
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