Care and Feeding of the "Mature" Choir ...
Date: October 29, 2010
I'd love to get some ideas from the group here on some exercises that I can use with my "seniors" choir, and as well as any repertoire suggestions for Christmas or spring music (our spring concert theme is "the birds and the bees").
I currently direct a a wonderful group of around 25 (mostly) octogenarians. Most of my singers had sung somewhere before, but many had not sung in quite a few years. There are no auditions; I tell them that as long as they can speak, they can sing, and it helps if they can hear well enough to differentiate pitches. Most are residents of the retirement facility in which we rehearse; a few travel from a neighboring facility.
We've been working on reconnecting breath support and learning to sing with more "mature" voices that often don't work like they used to. For example, blowing up balloons has been particularly helpful in gaining a sense of the muscles involved in supporting a tone. It's been a real learning experience for all of us, but we're in our third year, and the group is still enthusiastic and truly enjoying our rehearsals. i've been careful to select repertoire that works with more limited ranges, as well as arranging some public domain material for them. We sing mostly 2-part music, and there's a small group that enjoys the challenge of 3-part. We're preparing material for our Christmas concert, and expect to play to our normal SRO crowd. It'll be great fun!
Some of our challenges: 1) voices with limited ranges. Many of my female singers are closer in range and vocal timbre to tenors than altos or sopranos. 2) cognitive issues. Several of my singers have difficulties with memory and with following along in the music. 3) physical issues. Many singers cannot stand without aid (walker, cane, etc.), so we do a lot of singing sitting down, which creates additional challenges in trying to achieve good singing posture. 4) repertoire issues. Most published 2-part music seems to be aimed toward children's ensembles, and really doesn't work so well with my more mature singers.
Any suggestions you have will be most welcome, and i'd also enjoy hearing from others with similar groups.
Director, Goldentones Vocal Ensemble, Seattle, WA
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