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Intrested in Choral Conducting MM Program.

I’m a student pursuing a bachelors degree in Music Education Choral/Music Composition. My applied instrument is the Organ and I am fairly advanced with it. I am interested in pursuing a M.M. in Choral Conducting along with either a Sacred Music Degree in Organ, or Music Composition. Then eventually a D.M.A. in Choral Conducting and, or either, Music Composition/Organ Performance.  Right now, I can’t decide which I would want to teach at the university between Organ and Composition, but I am very interested in Choral Conducting.

The issue is, I  am not a singer.  In fact, when it comes to singing, I sound terrible (at least I think I do). I don’t know however if this would be a limitation to me for entering into a Choral Conducting program. As I am not interested in teaching applied voice lessons, but directing a Choir. I do however, seem to have a gift for bringing music to life. Bringing a historical interpretation to what I'm playing, as well as bring lots to emotion and energy to the a piece. This is would be my strength when it comes to Conducting a Choir.  I have no trouble with sight singing on  nearly a perfect pitch. =) And I am quite familiar with a  large repertoire of Choral works.

My question is, would I be able to realistically enter into a M.M. Choral Conducting program, and be a good candidate for a Choral Conductor, even though, I think I have a terrible voice myself.? 

I am really passionate about the idea of Choral Conducting. What thoughts and resources would you suggest me to study on for poor singing Choral conductors?

Thank you!

on April 2, 2014 2:59am
Hello Mary,
I wrote on this subject a while back:
Executive summary: singing is certainly a useful skill for choral conductors, but fortunately it is one that can be learned.
You are clearly a good musician, and you clearly care about this. Consequently, you will have the capacity to sing well enough to do this. Indeed, from here it sounds like the main thing that is holding you back is your belief that you have a terrible voice! My guess is that (a) it is not as bad as you think (you can sight-sing in tune; this is a Good Thing) and (b) the only thing wrong with it is lack of appropriate experience. You had to spend quite a while being not very good at the organ before you got good at it - the same works for singing, it improves with practice.
So, what I would suggest is to do at least one, or preferably both of two things:
 - join a choir, preferably the kind of community choir that takes all-comers so you can experience first-hand how someone handles under-confident novice singers with music in their hearts
 - take some singing lessons
Also, have a read of this: I hope it helps you see that you don't have to classify yourself as having a 'terrible voice', and encourages you to gain the experience that will give you the confidence and skills you need. Furthermore, I think that having first-hand experience of the transition in adulthood from being 'not a singer' to feeling you can sing will be a great asset to you as a choral conductor. The world needs people who can help others make this transition.
Good luck
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