In May, August, and September 2015, the Choral Journal featured a three-part article series titled “Notes for Success: Advice for the First-Year Choral Teacher.” As part of the series, 11 choral conductors with teaching experience ranging from 4 to 34 years answered 10 questions related to setting expectations for your first year, classroom management, balancing a successful work and home life, finding repertoire, and more.
In this column, I would like to address question #9: How do I build a strong choral sound in my choirs?
A portion of the suggestions listed regarding this question follow. Please leave a comment below with a strategy that has worked for you (or perhaps one that hasn’t!) so that we can continue to learn from one another.
“In my experience with adolescent singers, analogies and movement also aid a healthy tone production. During rehearsal, I will have my singers move their hands through a pool of Jello to help connect and energize tone, step forward to help sing an ascending skip in tune, step to the macro beat to help feel the “groove” or their unaccompanied piece, or simply tap the rhythm on the back of their hand to aid in rhythmic clarity.” – Jennifer Alarcon
“Be prepared to teach students to match pitch. As choral musicians, many of us have never experienced challenges in matching pitch. This may not be true in your teaching position. It is critical to develop strategies to teach pitch matching, and this is especially important with students whose voices have recently changed. Many students will be successful with a little extra attention to experiment with their voices. Take the time to meet with these students outside of the rehearsal to provide additional instruction regarding pitch-matching.” – Jennifer Sengin
“The vocal warm-up is the most opportune time to address vocal issues. Singing fast scales and arpeggios with no deliberate vocal coordination in mind is not the most effective way to teach vocal technique. I have discovered it is best to craft warm-ups that work toward a certain vocal coordination based on something challenging in the music. The transition from technique to literature could be seamless and can help facilitate independent transfer of training.” –Brandon Williams
-Question #1: How do I set realistic expectations for my first year of teaching?
Read it here.
-Question #3: How do I best balance my personal life and the stress of my job?
Read it here.
-Question #6: How do I best establish a grading strategy?
Read it here.
Click here to read Part 1. Click here to read Part 2. Click for Part 3. Note: you must be an ACDA member to read the Choral Journal. If you are not already a member of ACDA, join today! Associate members can join for only $45 a year.