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voice placement without formal audition?

Hi Gang,
I remember reading somewhere on the site, of a way to help singers determine their voice placement and section in the chorus (e.g., 2nd tenor or baritone? ... alto or 2nd soprano ... that sort of thing).  I can't relocate the post, so I thought I'd ask here.
The gist of the post was, during warmups where you go up and down a pattern chromatically (for example), you have each singer write down when it gets to be too low, or too high, for him or her.  There was something about how I (i.e., the director) would announce as the group goes through the warmup, what the highest note is (as you go up), and the lowest note (as you go down).  I think I remember the concept correctly, which seems smart, but I remember the description in the post was clear, and fun, and less convoluted than what I've written here.
And then folks turn in their papers, so you can let them know what the best section for them would be.  And I will also have a candid, non-threatening, self-assessment from each singer about her or his range.
Suggestions on finding that post, or indeed, any suggestions on how to efficiently help singers find their section, on their own, will be appreciated.
I will be starting a come-one, come-all rehearsal cycle soon, and this will help the folks who don't have a clue about what part to sing, after a long hiatus from chorus, for example, or even those who never had a clue.  And I'm figuring some of these chorus-wannabees will stay home, if they think there's a one-on-one audition with me, especially early on.
Replies (3): Threaded | Chronological
on February 1, 2014 5:46am
Sounds like a great idea for a pre-sort, but I think you'd also want a double-check in place, just to be careful.  Maybe, after the first rehearsal, give anyone who feels that they are having trouble hitting high or low notes in their current section could be invited to come and see you for a do-over?  And I'd be sure to mention, before you start this excercise, that this is for purposes of getting people in the right section, it is not a contest.  (If I say I can sing an E-flat he'll let me in the group!  I'll say I can hit it!)  
Some eager beavers will likely come to your audition well-warmed up and rarin' to go.  Having sung along to the oldies station on the drive to rehearsal, they will have a few more high notes warmed and usable, even though they are altos or basses.  (Or they will decide for self-reporting purposes that they could hit that G, when they really squeaked that G.)  Other folks who are on a tighter schedule, or are just a little less engaged may be walking in the door totally cold.  They will only have your brief warm-up to get them going.  Even though they are actually tenors or sopranos, you may not be getting their whole range.  
In making your decisions about placement, I'd probably give the most weight to the bottom end of people's range.  There's no faking those low note.  Either you have them or you don't.  And people don't generally get all diva-ish about their low notes the way they will about the high end of their range.  They will probably be more honest than hopeful in their reporting of their low end.  
on February 1, 2014 8:38am
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.  
Here's what I mean.
- My friend L is a soprano, and for some reason she can also sing a low F.  But if she sang second alto all night she'd tire her voice out quickly.
- My friend J is a first alt who can sing up to a high B flat in a very light kind of way (higher with lip trills).  She CAN sing soprano for about an hour but it's tiring.
I always tell my students that you should choose what section to be in based on which part of your voice you'll be happiest using for hours and hours.  
Hope this helps!
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on February 2, 2014 2:55am
Thomas Busse makes a good argument here (even though I've often been guilty of the very thing he writes against!).  I would also suggest that each song requires the possibility of revoicing your singers depending on your singers and circumstances. 
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