I've managed to end up temporarily in charge of a village choir (though it could end up being permanent) - SATB 12 people in Austria. Even though I don't have any voice training at all they still wanted me to do it because there simply isn't anyone else and they love singing so much that they didn't want the choir to fold. I'm a violinist/organist/pianist and I sing for fun so although I feel competent about teaching the lines and putting it all together, when it comes to technical problems I'm a bit at a loss as to what to do to help them.
So that's the background...
On the whole the sing really well (mostly unaccompanied in 4 parts) however these are the 2 problems I have identified:
1) Always ending up flat (often up to a tone flat) by the end of the song. I can feel them going down within a few bars and when I've sung with the sopranos or altos I can keep the pitch and I just hear them going down down down - they don't seem to be able to sing up to my pitch - I don't know whether that is a problem of hearing or of creating the note. Any thoughts welcome?
2) None of the lines can reproduce a minor third. One of the songs was going horribly wrong on Monday and when I analysed it, it was going wrong any time any of the lines had to sing a minor third. One of the Basses said that he thought that the minor third doesn't appear very often in Austrian folk music because he thought it sounded really unusual when I was playing minor thirds for them to hear on the piano. This may be the case. I heard another of the village choirs singing today (the women's choir) and they sang 7 out of the 8 songs absolutely beautifully. The 8th went unstuck ..... where a minor 3rd was involved. Normally I just sit and listen and enjoy but today I thought I would just see if the women's choir could manage the minor 3rds.
I'm sure we and the women's choir don't come unstuck every single time there is a minor third but it just seems a bit funny that every time we come unstuck a minor third is involved.
Any thoughts and suggestions would be most welcome.