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Items by Jay Lane

Results: 81
Title Author Date
Comment: Re: What relationship does your choir have with the church you rehearse at? What are the benefits?
My Renaissance choir is on the church's list of "Artists in Residence" at the church we rehearse at.  We get a break on the rent; every other year we appear on the concert series for free, with the church receiving all the ticket sales, and in off years we do a set in their choir's Christmas conce...
Comment: Re: Notice of resignation
When I left my previous church, I applied for other jobs and accepted a position before telling them, then gave them a month's notice.  But the church job was a major part of my income, so I really needed to do that.  And the month's notice was OK because nobody was beating me up!  Your situation...
Comment: Re: Icelandic Translations Needed
Perhaps my colleague Hildi could do this, or could suggest someone.  http://www.choralnet.org/view/user/661   --Jay Lane
Comment: Re: Vocal Help
I do this kind of work, and it is very tricky, and requires special training.  If he approached me, here's what I would suggest to him BEFORE seeing him for lessons. 1) Get a videostroboscopy from an ENT specializing in voice.  You can find the best person in your area by asking for a recommendat...
Comment: Re: Your Five Favorite UU Anthems
- I like Ralph Manuel's "Alleluia," which isn't specifically UU, but just a big, sweeping setting of the word "Alleluia."  You have to have a big enough choir to split the parts from time to time; - Ben Allaway's "My soul is a river" is fun (a capella); - Frank Ticheli's "Earth Song" is a favorit...
Comment: Re: Volume Issues
I find that working too hard to get space in the back of the throat can cause more problems than it solves.  I agree with Tom that a "SUBTLE" raising of the soft palate is what you need.  (And I also think his other exercises are great!)    I think that getting the breath to flow easily and en...
Comment: Re: Choir chairs
For my church's choir room we got Wenger student chairs, and people seem to like them just fine.
Comment: Re: "Emotions associated with love" repertoire
I Like "The Moon Is Distant from the Sea," by David Childs. Excellent setting of a lovely poem by Emily Dickinson; tricky (and very dramatic) piano part. http://www.sbmp.com/SR2.php?CatalogNumber=719    
Comment: Re: Too much air in singers' voices
I usually address this problem indirectly, using words like "energy," and "focus."  I love a lot of the ideas presented here that focus on making the breathing efficient, reducing counterproductive tensions, and unifying the vowels.  I don't generally use the word "breathy" because the students m...
Comment: Re: your own vocal workout
Hi Rachael,   I work on all of these things using the McClosky Technique.  The stance improves breath efficiency, and the exercises called the "six areas of relaxation" are designed to remove tension from the articulators.  One specific idea that removes tension AND warms up the sound: relax t...
Comment: Re: Smoking
Heavy smoking can cause a condition called Reinke's Edema. This is a buildup of gelatinous material in the vocal folds, in the space just under the epithelium. The vocal folds thus get thicker and so the fundamental frequency of the voice drops. I do not think it is reversible, although there could...
Comment: Re: Trouble with decrescendos
What a lot of good ideas on this thread!  My first-ever choral conductor, Marian Dolan, had us do hissing exercises: 4 beats from piano to forte, then four more forte to piano.  Then 8 beats each direction... and so on; I think in one summer we got up to 16+16.  Just make sure people keep their j...
Comment: Re: Church Choir needs accompaniment by handbells alone
I have a nice simple SAB arrangement of "Of the Father's Love Begotten" that I wrote for small choir and just a few bellringers (I think it's 8 bells).  If you'd like a pdf to peruse, just send me a private message.
Comment: Re: When do I teach mixed and chest voice?
I really like Michael McGlynn's comments.  In addition, I'd say spend a lot of time developing the head voice before you teach mix or belt.  The reason for this has to do with the muscles inside the larynx.  (Details: the thyroarytenoid muscle is much bigger and stronger than the cricothyroid, an...
Comment: Re: getting female belters to blend in SATB choir
I've had success simply asking for head voice.  Different musical styles require different sounds, and I think it can be helpful to say so.  (Note: NO value judgment.  Just, "We need this sound for this style, and that sound for that style.")  Girls who belt may not LIKE their head voices, becau...
Forum message: Moving people around
I understand that it's very important to some conductors to have each singer standing in just the right place, but I've never gotten in the habit of moving my singers from their self-chosen positions within the section.  Please educate me!  Do you move your singers around?  What criteria do you u...
Comment: Re: The "New Voice Type" coming to our choruses
The kind of voice you describe, in women, can result from relentless chest voice singing (untrained) while ignoring the head voice. When women with this kind of problem come to my studio, I give them lots of light exercises in head voice. The sound is breathy, but fills in with time. Many of them do...
Comment: Re: Bad intonation
Always warm up the choir. Otherwise the time you think you are"saving" will be spent in chasing down intonation problems that wouldn't otherwise be there.
Comment: Re: High Tenor Notes as a Psychological Problem
I don't actully see a problem using falsetto to sing high notes in choral music, especially if you are a young singer!  I know that it took me a while to get the top of my voice "worked out," and until everything came together, I felt exactly what you described--getting to the high register in full...
Comment: Re: Bass singing a tenor role...help!
In my experience as a voice teacher, getting a young bass to sing high when he's not ready is really tough to do.  It can be risky, and I'd advise against it. I vote for transposing!
Comment: Re: voice placement without formal audition?
It sounds like a fun and non-threatening idea, which is good.     But I have a different take on this from my vantage point as a voice teacher.  I believe that RANGE is not as important as TESSITURA--in other words, it's not what you can hit, but where you want to spend the whole rehearsal.   ...
Comment: Re: Audition Advice
If it were me, I'd say OK, because that way I'm being cooperative.  Besides, what harm could it do?  Maybe you could even ask for a copy yourself, and that could give you wonderful information on how you appear to others.
Comment: Re: Vivaldi Gloria instruments
You could always ask around and borrow someone's electric keyboard, set to the "harpsichord" sound.  Some of them can be convincing enough to get the job done.
Comment: Re: Singing in the morning
College students do NOT like getting up in the morning, and this simple fact might decrease your enrollment.  This argument may go over better than the one you are putting forward, because your supervisor knows it full well!   But on the other hand, many people's voices do get going a bit more ...
Comment: Re: Dismissing a church soloist
Have you already told the soloist about the problems and they haven't addressed them?  If so, then I'd say you should go ahead and dismiss.  However, if they are socially popular in the church, then the problem becomes more complex, and you probably need to build a paper trail first--noting proble...
Comment: Re: Student says low notes that she previously could sing now hurt
It might be any one of several things, and without hearing the person, I can't offer a firm opinion.  That being said, my rule is--if it hurts, don't do it!  Pain while singing is a danger signal.     My first guess is that she's a soprano who hadn't developed yet.  Now that she's found her ...
Comment: Re: How to get a more focused sound from an adolescent choir
I like this one too.  In my opinion, it's really important to know how the body is actually put together, and if you know where the jaw joint is, it can save you from all kinds of bad habits that come from mistaken ideas.  I'm a fan of "Body Mapping," a discipline that's all about things like this...
Comment: Re: How to get a more focused sound from an adolescent choir
I like this exercise too.  Pay attention to the bottom of your ribcage when you try it, and I think you will feel a gentle expansion. My theory is that it stabilizes the ribcage, thus making abdominal breathing more efficient.
Comment: Re: How to get a more focused sound from an adolescent choir
Yes, absolutely right!  One thing to watch out for: make sure they are breathing correctly when they do this exercise.  Once they figure out that they need breath flow to make their lips buzz, they may try to "cheat" by breathing with their chests instead of with their abdomens.  This will give t...
Comment: Re: No transistion between Falsetto and chest voice
Sometimes you can't do anything about this--it passes with time.  I find that the main thing is to assure them that this phenomenon is a normal stage many boys go through.  I continue to teach good HABITS (good posture and breathing, musicianship, etc.) with whatever notes they are able to sing th...
Comment: Re: How to get a more focused sound from an adolescent choir
I like lip trills for both age groups.  This gets the air flowing.  Sing the passage on lip trills, then immediately again with a single vowel, then again with words.
Comment: Re: 2nd grader with chronic laryngitis
It sounds like something significant is going on!  I'd definitely start by sending the child to an ENT who specializes in voice--the top singers in your area will know who's good.  The ENT will likely have people on staff who can do the appropriate voice therapy, and figure out what lifestyle cha...
Comment: Re: Conducting John Rutter's For the Beauty of the earth
 I do the 3/8 bars in one, but I link those four "ones" together in a big round 4 pattern, followed by a small, angular 2 pattern for the 2/4 bar. I'm sure you will find what works best for you!
Comment: Re: Help with falsetto question?
One of my rules for sending people to the doctor is this: when they can't do something they used to be able to do--especially if the change is sudden--then it's time for a look.  If the doctor doesn't find anything, then it may be that he's gotten into some bad vocal habits that a good voice teache...
Comment: Re: Easily-learned French repertoire
Here's a lovely little Renaissance chanson about peace: http://imslp.org/wiki/Beau_le_cristal_(Lassus,_Orlande_de)  
Comment: Re: Student who doesn't sing -- he fries instead ?
Usually, I start with air flow.  BUT for someone who's producing a monotone, I'd start with pitch matching, because he may have no idea of what is required.    I suggest meeting him one-on-one.   1) Explain that he isn't singing the same notes as everybody else, and that this is one of the...
Comment: Re: Pronunciation of Adam Lay Ybounden
David Rogers is quite right.  I can't BELIEVE I wrote "Old English" when I meant "Middle English," and did it not once, but twice--ouch!  
Comment: Re: Renaissance Performance Practice
Hi James,   I've directed a Renaissance choir for a number of years--here's my advice:   1) YES, do little crescendos/diminuendos depending on how you want to shape the phrase. 2) To figure out how you want to shape the phrase, focus on word accents, and the structure of the sentence. 3) The...
Comment: Re: Pronunciation of Adam Lay Ybounden
I'd call around to local college English departments to find an Old English scholar.  I did it once with the old pronunciation, which I learned from my wife who had studied Old English in college.  Oh, the weeping and gnashing of teeth in the choir!  People objected like mad--not sure why!  Most...
Comment: Re: HELP WITH MY VOICE! D:
Hi Elliott, I understand about that E, and what a barrier it seems like right now.  I felt just the same when I was a teenager!  It certainly wouldn't hurt to get scoped, just to make sure everything is OK.  But my suspicion is that everything is normal.  I'm guessing that Thom is right and yo...
Comment: Re: From France, please need help with repertoire - adult choir
Dvorak's Mass in D is rewarding to sing and not that difficult. There's a pretty good free edition on cpdl.org.
Comment: Re: Addressing Older Choir Members Overall Sound/Vibrato
I've found a lot of helpful information in "Choral Pedagogy and the Older Singer" by Brenda Smith and Robert Sataloff (Plural Publishing).   In general, I find that good technique is good technique, whatever the age.  The problem is that as we age we can't sing with poor technique and still soun...
Comment: Re: Is uncontrolled vibrato fixable?
Yes, it's fixable, but it's not easy!  It's often a combination of poor breath support and poor breath flow, together with tension in the jaw and tension in the muscles called the "laryngeal elevators."   If you can only address it by working with the whole group, I'd suggest doing your favorite...
Comment: Re: Ringers/Interns/Section Leaders for Church Choir
At my church (in the Boston suburbs) we pay $100 per week for a section leader who comes to Thursday night rehearsal and Sunday morning; rates may be different where you are.  In some places, you can get a student from a local conservatory to do this.  Some churches audition high school students f...
Comment: Re: aging eyes
I've gone to progressive glasses, and I'm not crazy about them for playing and conducting.  I've recently gotten a special pair of glasses like the ones David Spitko describes, and I think they work better, but I'm just getting used to them so the jury is out.  
Comment: Re: Teaching Private Voice Lessons-Where to begin?
I was a keyboard player who got fascinated by the voice, and now I am a voice teacher.  But I went and got extensive training to do it!  I think that there is a tremendous amount to know about the workings of the voice, and a lot of places where a good musician can mis-step.  I'll give you an exa...
Comment: Re: Voice problems
Dear Lindsay,   So sorry to hear you are having this trouble!  Many people report voice problems when they begin heavy voice use after a long break.     I agree with others that you need to see an ENT who specializes in the voice.  One of these folks will do a long videostroboscopy that wi...
Comment: Re: Choral Jazz Music for Church
I like Elliot Levine's setting of the e.e. cummings poem "i thank You God."  SSATTB.   Listen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyWQBUN8EnQ Buy here: http://www.shadowpress.biz/catalog.html
Comment: Re: Helping singers to not sing flat.
Here's what I do to keep the choir from going flat. - I always start warmups with "reaching for the ceiling," and then a few abdominal breaths and sighs; - If a particular passage is flatting, I ask people to sing it with lip trills; - "Sing to the back of the room," - "Keep it light and bright...
Comment: Re: Inquiry: Church Choir Director or Accompanist?
I'm a choral conductor and organist, and I've always done both, so I know it can be done!  If your budget is small you might have to get someone young and inexperienced, but you might find someone good.  I'd suggest looking on the American Guild of Organists website at other people's ads so you ca...