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Andrea Ramsey on Her Newly Commissioned Work, “But a Flint Holds Fire” in Support of the Flint Water Crisis

September 26, 2016 -

I was recently introduced to an article on the Michigan ACDA website (editor, Jed Scott). It was an interview with composer Andrea Ramsey about her recently commissioned work, “But a Flint Holds Fire.” The piece was composed for a Chorus America consortium project and is part of an effort to raise awareness

Several times over the past few months, issues of pitch-matching have come up - sometimes troublesome, challenging issues of finding "something to do" for enthusiastic students who can't sing in tune. I had a situation like that, some years back. This particular student, now leading a military men's choral ensemble, replied: "I'm honored to be used as an example in your teaching! I think one of the techniques that helped me understand pitch the most, when I was still not hitting the right notes, was matching the piano to whatever pitch I was singing. I'd try to keep a single pitch in my voice, which isn't hard to do, and then hit keys one by one on the piano until I felt the resonance, which is quite distinct. Once I comprehended that sensation in my ear, I could set it a goal to match my voice to the piano, instead of the other way around. I hope that helps." ... See MoreSee Less

16 hours ago

Kenneth Potter, Merryl Nelson and 12 others like this

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Betsy Baeskens GiriHelen Kemp writes of exactly this technique in "Of Primary Importance," the section for helping students who do not match pitch. The student sings a note, and the teacher matches it, rather than the other way around. I have used this with good results many times.

14 hours ago   ·  4
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Laurie Betts HughesYes!!! This has worked with students: they lead the pitch matching-- I match them, and piano matches them, and they keep a staff paper with "their notes" (dated) that we build upon over time. Works well.

14 hours ago   ·  1
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Ryan OsinskiOnly one official military men's choral ensemble in this country: The US Army Chorus. Is this MAJ Leonel Pena?

13 hours ago
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Roger AmesNo, Ryan. It's a "base" ensemble - and my student is in England.

12 hours ago

1 Reply

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Joan FearnleyExcellent suggestion. This works well in a one on one setting. What I've done with kids in a group is have them hum rather than sing. When you sing it's hard to listen at the same time but when you hum you can hear the others around you without disturbing your neighbors. I recognize though that this might try the patience of the enthusiastic singer.

12 hours ago   ·  1
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Lauren KathleenHave them count backwards from 10, find the speaking "pitch" of their voice and start from there.

8 hours ago   ·  1
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Carol MunnThank you!!!

7 hours ago
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Claire HerringI used a similar technique with a student who was having trouble matching pitch. Instead of playing a note and asking her to match it, I asked her to sing a note and then I matched her pitch by singing. I asked her if I was singing the same note she was and she could hear when I was. Sometimes I deliberately sang a different note. Then I would find the note on the piano. Worked well with her.

17 minutes ago
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Kenneth PotterYou know those plastic tubes that you can spin around and they make different notes of the harmonic series. I kept one of those handy and if a kid couldn't sing on pitch, i'd have them put one end up to their ear and have another kid with a good voice sing a note (softly) into it, and then put the other end up to them and ask them to sing that note. They then heard their own voice in their ear and tried to match their friend. By trial and error, it usually worked. I totally agree with Claire having them sing a note (any note) and then me (or another kid) singing it. Being that I'm a man, it's harder using myself as the example. Thus having a kid with a nice voice do the example is good.

5 minutes ago
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