Teenage Basses who can barely match pitch
Date: September 26, 2012
I have recently become the choir director for a small group of 7th-12th graders (mandatory as part of their homeschool co-op,) and I feel rather inadequate!
There are 5 basses, one of them is a relatively good singer (probably more of a baritone compared to the rest), and one very weak tenor (whose voice does not overlap at all with the basses!) The other 4 basses are also VERY weak singers, one of them has a 3-note basement range of about LOW F-A, the other hree have somewhat larger ranges, but all these 4 have a lot of difficulty matching pitch. Maybe this was a bad idea on my part, but I've stuck the strong singer, the "baritone," with the tenor, mainly to avoid having the tenor sing alone (I really want to avoid singleing him out at this insecure age, as well as I don't think he *could* sing alone, or worse, sing with girls.)
So now I still have 4 very low basses who are like the blind leading the blind! I will try and work with them individually for a few minutes each week outside of choir, and hope and expect that I can gradually help them to increase their ranges and pitch abilities, but for now... what am I supposed to do? I'm very flexible with repertoire now (although Catholic/Christian religious music is strongly preferred,) and we're just doing pretty simple pieces. Right now I am trying a few things like arranging hymns by adding a low bass line that just stays on do-ti-do-re (depending what the chord is,) and/or having the baritone-tenor duo sing the same thing as them an octave higher, and trying some Gregorian chants with a "drone" (ison) that is in the basses range, but still... they sound pretty terrible! The pitch is barely there. I can't tell them to not sing (although I wish at times I could!) What does one do during the rehearsals or even performances (if this hasn't improved by then?)
(I can barely even "warm them up" because there's only about those 4 notes that the basses can remotely hit!)
I've requested from the library a couple of the books I've seen recommended on this site (the "working with adolescent voices" and teaching kids to sing ones,) but any other suggestions on what to do would be appreciated!
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