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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 use?  Who do you place where, and why?
 
Thanks to all,
Jay Lane
 
on March 7, 2014 6:15am
Jay: There is no magic wand here - but most conductors claim that it's all a matter of tone quality within the section.  Try it with you smallest section first and ask them to mix-up and stand next to someone different than who they usually do.  Then try the mix-and-match method using different combinations. They all should sing the same line, e.g., a familiar phrase that they have been singing and have memorized.  Ask the other sections to listen as well [to keep them engaged] and then simply ask which grouping provides the best overall sound. You can often lead the choir to the grouping you prefer, but that's your role as the teacher/conductor. You may have a problem if the choir sings multiple sections, e.g., SSAATTBB but otherwise this type of experiment may work when you're trying it the first time. 
on March 7, 2014 8:56am
Jay - there are two proponents of what we have come to call "seating".  Brian Trevor, who teaches in Glendora, CA, and Rodney Eichenberger from whom both Brian and I learned the technique.
Rod has been a long-time member and supporter of the ACDA.  He retired (as retired as he'll ever be!) from Florida State U. and has a series of workshops through George Fox University that have convinced the rest of us that he'll continue to keep us all sharp - if we can keep up with him!
 
Brian wrote his DMA dissertation on the seating technique and still uses it to good advantage in his daily teaching.
 
Each of us who learned it from Rod has developed our own "flavor" to make it a tool to help the singers listen, understand their roles within section, and give them the opportunity to sing at their best - and build the section and ensemble color we are seeking to complement a musical period style or redress numerical imbalances, with which the Church Musician often has to live!
 
Rod has a couple of DVDs out on conducting techniques that, to some extent, address the tool and how it becomes part of the overall skill set.
 
I hope some part of the idea can enhance your rehearsals and performances.
 
Cheers!
 
Gene Lysinger
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