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Items by Tom Carter

Results: 281
Title Author Date
Comment: Re: Fostering facial expression
I wrote a book describing what Dale is talking about in great detail. My website is also fairly expansive, addressing many of the points being discussed here.    While this topic hasn't been brought up in quite a while, I'm convinced that it remains the single most powerful and important aspect ...
Comment: Re: Volume Issues
Bart,    Here are a couple of things that might help: Help your singers to sing pure vowels; a pure vowel can lead naturally to that lifted soft palette, relaxed jaw, and relaxed tongue.  Do exercises that lead with voiced consonants like V, Z, TH (as in "zither"), Zh, M, and N. These defini...
Comment: Re: Building community in H.S. Treble Choir
Hi Bruce,   A couple of activities and related processing would give your young women opportunities to build ensemble, trust, and commitment. I would recommend building up from "Zip! Zap! Zop!" to "Bunny! Bunny!" to "Bippity, Bippity, Bop!" to "Sound Transformation Circle" to "Sound/Movement Tr...
Comment: Re: Too much air in singers' voices
Rebeca,   Whether your singers' small or airy voices are a by-product of their adolescent physiology or their vocal production, I believe you can have help them by encouraging dynamic breath support and a relaxed vocal mechanism.  Help them breathe so that their lower and upper ribs expand ou...
Comment: Re: Processionals!
Brandon,   My favorite processionals from high school were "Sing We and Chant It" (Morley) and "All Ye Who Music Love" (Donato).   Cheers!   Tom
Comment: Re: orchestra pit too loud & too shallow?
Shawna, while you've probably thought of all these already, here's what we've done in various productions to improve the balance:  1) Mic the singers (individual, overhead, floor...) 2) Have the orchestra play softer 3) Put carpet under the orchestra 4) Put thick absorptive fabric/material bet...
Comment: Re: Where can one find a script for Annie?
Polina,   Contact MTI (mtishows.com) and ask for perusal copies of the script and score. If they charge you, it will be very little.    Tom
Comment: Re: GUEST BLOG: "Attaching Stories to Choral Texts," by Amanda Bumgarner
Hey Edward,   Oh, how I wish I could conduct! I'm speaking as a clinician who works with choirs, but I don't actually conduct them.    The deal with using story (and other associated processes) with choirs is that the responsibitlity for expression is on the singers, not the conductor. So, af...
Comment: Re: GUEST BLOG: "Attaching Stories to Choral Texts," by Amanda Bumgarner
Hi Lucy,   I just changed my website, replacing "My Wild Irish Rose" with "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean."   Thanks again!   Tom
Comment: Re: GUEST BLOG: "Attaching Stories to Choral Texts," by Amanda Bumgarner
Hi Lucy,   Thanks so much for your thoughts. I'm glad you resonated with the core principles; I'm also glad that you shared your response to "My Wild Irish Rose"! RE that example, I actually used it when I wrote a guest blog for a barbershop-based website (I chose the song based on its populari...
Comment: Re: GUEST BLOG: "Attaching Stories to Choral Texts," by Amanda Bumgarner
Hi Amanda,   The process of creating a story is at the core of my book, Choral Charisma: Singing with Expression (cited by Silvey). As a clinician/presenter, I've seen the power of story over and over again: when working with story, excellent but not particularly expressive choirs have trans...
Comment: Re: Tone Placement
Ciara,   You might consider a couple of things: To unify the sound, unify the (pure) vowels rather than modifying the tone.  To create a warm, vibrant, open, and natural sound, have the singers relax the jaw, perhaps placing the backs of their fingers against their cheekbones/cheeks to encoura...
Comment: Re: Exciting Methods to Teach Latin Vowels?
Andrew,   Thanks for your supportive words; I appreciate your generosity of spirit! (Most people on Choralnet know me as a clinician/author and not as a singer/voice teacher -- that's the only reason I included some minimal singing bonafides:-).   However, we do appear to have different opini...
Comment: Re: Exciting Methods to Teach Latin Vowels?
Maria, I don't know if you'd call it "exciting," but the most helpful approach I've found for pronouncing Latin is the idea of pure vowels/no diphthongs. Sometimes having students exaggerate the shift from the first half of the dipthong to the the second (in Americani...
Comment: Re: Acoustic advice needed for performance in gym
Hi Bart,   I've worked in some similar spaces, including a very similar sounding gym with a stage on the long side. Here are a few thoughts: If you can place the singers on risers on that stage, you'll give yourself a good head start. Because you would be in an enclosed space, you'd have an ea...
Comment: Re: The Choir as a Governmental Template?
Another parallel: The work the US Congress does is ultimately for The People; the work a choir does is also ultimately for The People (as in The Audience).   
Comment: Re: Risers in a challenging space
Hi Bill,   Cantatas and oratorios. Of course!    Here's a potential solution for you. Would something like this work, perhaps leaned against the back of the space or set along the perimeter? To deal with the spaces in the floor (through which legs of chairs would fall), there's a very ligh...
Comment: Re: Risers in a challenging space
Hi Bill,   Thanks for all that. Sounds like an interesting space.   And, while I wish that I could now offer some suggestions, all I have are more questions! When you originally mentioned singers having to be on their feet the whole time, I assumed you were dealing with multiple choirs who wou...
Comment: Re: Risers in a challenging space
Bill, could you give us more details? I'm curious about the following: What sort of location houses this space? Church? Cafetorium? Theater? What's the height difference between the floor of the performing and audience spaces? What are the dimensions of the performing space? How do the singers ...
Comment: Re: Considering taking over musicals
Hi Bruce,   While I can't really answer your direct question since I've never taught choir, I have sung in lots of great school choirs and directed many after-school musicals. Here are my two cents:   I like the idea of maximizing the numbers of kids who do the musical (and take it seriously)...
Comment: Re: Who knew? Singing and Oxytocin
Hey Philip!   Absolutely interesting stuff!!    And if you add the phenomena of emotional contagion to the mix, I think it becomes even MORE fascinating! [Emotional contagion is the process whereby we experience similar mental/emotional states as the person/s we're watching. Though various me...
Comment: Re: Auditions (Sidebar)
Thanks for the sidebar, Joshua. As one who knows that fully engaged and authentically expressive singers have a much more profound impact on their audiences, I know that the visual element is a vital component of choral performance. However, I also know that such singers sound better, singing ...
Comment: Re: GUEST BLOG: "The Students' Challenge to Directors" by Taylor Jack Conley
Thanks for that wonderful challenge, Taylor! I agree with you about the importance of the director's high standards when it comes to singers memorizing music; singers of all ages and levels can memorize, leading to a better musical experience for all.   And while I also agree that singers can ...
Comment: Re: HS Choir team-building and get acquainted activities
Hi Joseph,   There are many such exercises/activities on the "Movement & Warm-Ups" and "Safety First" pages of www.choralcharisma.com. My favorites include  the following:   The Name Game Zip, Zap, Zop! Bunny, Bunny! Bippity, Bippity, Bop Sound Transformation Circle Sound/Movement Tra...
Comment: Re: Movement Warm Ups
Hi Kayla,   You'll find lots of exercises/activities on the "Movement & Warm-Ups" and "Safety First" pages of www.choralcharisma.com.    All my best,   Tom
Comment: Re: Women's Choir pieces about singing, songs, etc.
Libby Larsen's "The Womanly Song of God" is a brilliant, stunning, and challenging tour-de-force for women's choirs. While the poetry by Catherine de Vinck does not center entirely on the subject of singing, one of the underlying themes (as reflected in her poetry) does: "I am the god of a thousand...
Comment: Re: directing operetta in high school choir
Paul,   I would recommend taking your lead from your colleague. It's their class, their syllabus, their grading, their curriculum, and their students. If your colleague made it clear at the beginning of the year that all students would be in the production, attending this number of extra-c...
Comment: Re: Changing a word
Thanks, John Howell, for the hand-off. It does indeed simplify things when singers take the approach that many actors do, truthfully communicating the text for the duration of the song ... then "letting it go" if it doesn't correspond to personal belief.   RE John Wexler's comments, I'm with ...
Comment: Re: Choral Caffeine: It's About Sound
From one perspective, the choir business is about sound. From another, it's about engaging the audience as fully as possible. I believe these two objectives go hand in hand; a great-sounding choir which engages the audience's full sense of humanity (that means the singers' humanity is engaged full...
Comment: Re: Ouch! The truth hurts
Philip,   Thanks for the unexpected shock of reading my name in your post! And Happy New Year to you and yours!!   I don't necessarily agree with all of this de facto, but I definitely agree with the point about "disengaged singers," with "expressionless faces." And if that point were ad...
Comment: Re: Healthy straight tone vs. "shimmering" vibrato
I agree with most of the posters above about both healthy singing and using a healthy variety of vibrato with different styles/for different effects.   That said, I've heard many different explanations of vibrato; but even those with definitive science (and impressive credentials) differ ra...
Comment: Re: Movement/Choralography resources
Thanks to John and Eric for the shout out; I'm thrilled to be mentioned as a resource when it comes to fully engaged singing.   While I do write a lot in my book (and website) about movement -- I agree that Yvonne Farrow is the actual expert on choralography. I would also point anyone inter...
Comment: Re: Peak Choral Experience: NBC's The Sing-Off
Stephen and Brian,   I'm in total agreement about the quality of this show. The singing (and arranging) is truly impressive The judges are ALWAYS  positive (never insulting the performers or sniping at each other ... what other singing competition show can say that?!) The judges...
Comment: Re: No Energy
Bruce,   Check out Choral Charisma: Singing with Expression. The book is dedicated to this very issue, and provides a clear and easily accessible method to empower singers toward authentic non-zombiesqueness.   No tricks, just best practices from the drama arena wit...
Comment: Re: Choral Music and Emotion
Talia,   I think John has made an important point -- "One person's 'emotional' can easily be another person's 'boring.'" That said, I assume you're going to look at these pieces and decide for yourself if you have any emotional connection to them.   The other factor here is that the way...
Comment: Re: Conductor as dictator
I've experienced lots of absolutely wonderful choral directors -- "human" in all the best senses of the word. They're respectful, kind, sensitive, empathetic, et cetera.   But I've seen the Temperamental Artist as well, and have seen them lead large programs and amass huge followings. I think...
Comment: Re: Imagine for middle school
Paul,   Why did you choose the text? What's your take on the "no hell below us ... above us only sky ... and no religion, too" lines?   I've always considered "Imagine" to be an anti-religion song, with Lennon suggesting that most of the world's wars are based on religious beliefs ("not...
Comment: Re: Repeat business
Interesting that this is related to orchestra and not choral performances, because there are several core differences (though Gustavo Dudamel is trying to minimize them :-). The core differences I refer to are that choral performances... Usually incorporate text with the music Have sing...
Comment: Re: a piece for advanced female chorus, a cappella, fast?
Libby Larson's The Womanly Song of God, with text by Catherine de Vinck, is absolutely stunning both musically and textually. Here is the San Francisco Girls Chorus (Chorissima) performing the piece, with artistic director Susan McMane introducing it.
Comment: Re: How do you teach Expressive Singing
I find it interesting to read these posts for many reasons, one of which is that they illustrate a basic difference in the way people think about expressive singing.   A) To some, expressive singing is mostly about the sonic experience -- is the choral sound "...
Comment: Re: Conducting Dissertation Ideas
Dear Edwin,   You are not the only one to hold your viewpoint. As I indicated in my first post, many think that this approach will yield (as a staff member of the Choral Journal put it) "expressive anarchy." While that would seem a logical result of what I'm discussing, the truth is that sin...
Comment: Re: Conducting Dissertation Ideas
John,   Always good to read your thoughts. I imagine you and I are in agreement here, for when I wrote "Conductors have long been seen...," I was defining "conductor" as one who stands in front of a choir and conducts. Therefore, the entire post was only referring to conducted choirs, not non...
Comment: Re: Conducting Dissertation Ideas
Mark,   Conductors have long been seen as responsible for the unified expressivity of the choir, with the singers responding to their body language, facial expressions, and gestures (among other things).   There are a few reasons why this paradigm has survived and still has "legs." Some ...
Comment: Re: The Discipline of Teams
Tim,   Thanks so much for your thoughts on this; I sure appreciate you and your leadership of ACDA.   A related thought: I once worked for a school that supposedly valued teamwork. As I quickly discovered, what they really valued was compliance--when a supervisor told you to do something...
Comment: Re: Retreat for select ensembles?
Annmarie,   I've been a part of many of these retreats, which have included the following sorts of activities: Team-building exercises Commitment/Trust games Rehearsals (from learning notes to exploring the music in a deeper/more complex way than you ...
Comment: Re: Trusting your gut
Right! In my ideal world, educators would all empower students to have self-awareness, self-control, and social responsibility. Students' decisions would be based on intrinsic notions of "What's best for me and best for others" rather than "What's going to keep me out of trouble or get me a happy...
Comment: Re: Too, well not really Muslim, but vaguely Middle Eastern for school
Marie,   I encourage you to stand up against the Fearful Folks and strike a chord for multi-culturalism and humanity (not to mention the integrity of your recital) ... TELL THE STORY!!   Reminds me of class today, when my sixth graders were discussing who was going to read what part in ...
Comment: Re: Too, well not really Muslim, but vaguely Middle Eastern for school
Oklahoma, huh? What about that dastardly Muslim street peddler, Ali Hakim? (Well, he could be Muslim....)   Very sad, but also one more example of reactionary and short-sighted educational administrators who act out of fear.
Comment: Re: Turning pages automatically
Yes, you can set it to turn the pages whenever you want. Check out their information video:  http://tonara.com/tonaraApp.aspx
Comment: Re: Help! My Choirs have NO energy!
Brian,   Check out my website and/or book, both devoted to the exact issue you're describing. If you like what you read on the website, consider the book -- it goes into great detail with lots of anecdotes, examples, and descriptions.   In short, my ideas are all about empowering singer...