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First time singing in a choir - any advice?


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#1 Vicky Violin

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 09:03

Hi all,

 

I'm very excited to report that I've just joined a choir!  It's a bit daunting though - having never done any singing before.  My singing experience is limited to the ABRSM Aural tests!

 

For various reasons, I haven't played violin for a while and miss being involved in music.  So I thought this was the perfect opportunity to get back into music, but away from the violin.  I went to my first rehearsal this week and it is a lovely group.  Everyone reads music but the overall standard is not too high, although there are some very good singers there. Most importantly it's very friendly with a drink at the pub afterwards!  We're singing Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man which is new to me.  We're working towards a concert in July where we'll be singing together with three other choirs - so safety in numbers!

 

The first rehearsal was unsurprisingly quite a challenge - in particular how to breathe - I kept running out of breath mid phrase!  Also, pitching the notes - particularly in chromatic passages.  I've been listening to the music on YouTube and we have some recordings of the individual parts - I'm singing alto by the way - no way I can attempt any high notes.  So I'm using those to generally familiarise myself with the music.  I also have a keyboard so I plan to play the individual phrases and try singing them back at home.

 

Anyway, just wondering if anyone has any other advice for me.  I'm also considering having some singing lessons, especially to get help with the breathing technique.  So if anyone can recommend a teacher in the London area (preferably North or East) that would be great.

 


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#2 Tenor Viol

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 12:51

Well done. The Jenkins isn’t particularly difficult - a bit repetitive... Would recommend lessons as that will help a lot with breathing technique. Alto will be good for musicianship as you are part of the inner harmony. With lessons you will find your range will improve and you will get a proper assessment of your vocal range
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#3 Sylvette

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 13:16

Well done, Vicky Violin and welcome to the wonderful world of singers!  

Yes, lessons are a great idea and you may be surprised at the range you can achieve (my current teacher has helped me to add a whole octave to the top end of my voice!).  You will also undoubtedly get a lot of help with breath support and phrasing, both very important skills.

I find that playing through my parts on the piano between rehearsals (I sing second soprano) is very helpful to get them into my head.  It is also very important to listen to the people around you and to the accompaniment.

Stick with it and it will get easier.  Good luck!


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#4 Cyrilla

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 22:49

Definitely look into some Kodály training too.

 

This will help with pitching, sight-singing, ensemble skills and general musicianship.

 

The most amazing vocal wizard EVER teaches on BKA courses - he could well change your life in a half-hour lesson (it's been known...) - he would certainly do wonderful things with what you think your range is.

 

:wub:


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#5 Vicky Violin

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Posted 11 May 2018 - 15:13

Thanks very much all for your encouragement and tips.  It seems the way forward is to get some singing lessons!

 

TV - I'm very glad the Jenkins is quite repetitive - that's a big help to me at this stage laugh.png 

 

Sylvette - I'm definitely very reliant on the other singers around me and the accompaniment - it was a great help listening to them this week.  I find it is a bit like violin in orchestra - when I hit the right pitch I can really hear it but if I am not singing the same note as the other altos, suddenly I can't hear - if that makes sense.  Also the conductor is very helpful in helping us pitch - e.g. - if you're having trouble finding that B natural, listen to the tenors as they have it two beats before you... etc.

 

Cyrilla - I will take a look at BKA - I *think* I have reasonable pitching/musicianship skills from my violin playing but no doubt there is much room for improvement!

 

thanks again!


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#6 Saxwarbler

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Posted 12 May 2018 - 19:56

Watching the conductor goes without saying, but listen to him/her too, even when he/she stops the choir to rehearse another voice section. Being familiar with other parts will help you to sing yours better.

If you're not sure what to sing, sing anyway, even if it's wrong. The conductor won't be able to put you right if they can't hear you.

Also, find the best singer in your section and try to sit or stand next to them (they are often chosen as soloists). They won't always get it 100% right but you stand a better chance of getting it right yourself if you take a lead from them.


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#7 Vicky Violin

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 22:08

Thanks saxwarbler. Had my second rehearsal tonight and it all felt a bit easier. :-) looking forward to the next one already.
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