Conference Morsel: Genuine Inspiration
Date: April 4, 2014
(An excerpt from the interest session “Inspiration: Look Beyond the Page,” presented by Tom Wine during the 2014 ACDA Southwestern Division Conference)
Inspiration. Where does it come from and how can it be taught to singers in a choir? Defining the element which singers will identify as the source of inspiration is always a challenge. Miles Davis said, "Don't play what's there, play what's not there." The score study process should be designed to let the singers understand composer intention and how it affects performance decisions.
The typical score study process includes: 1. research the composer and the poet, 2. analyze the music harmonically and stylistically, 3. make informed and inspired decisions about interpretation of each line of the score, 4. develop gestures which will present the music to the ensemble. Directors have an obligation to inspire singers to find for themselves some of the implied phrasing, dynamic shaping, and text stress required to make the music come alive. Take chances with visual and verbal imagery. Make a personal connection to the music.
Be a conductor your singers TRUST. Trust involves two conflicting positions: competence and vulnerability. Singers must trust that your leadership from the podium is skilled and prepared so that the performance will not be a failure. Trust also requires you to make yourself vulnerable. If you only conduct from a position of power you do not appear open for communication. Balancing authority with a willingness to give ownership of the music to the singers is the only way to allow the singers an insight into the composer’s inspired intentions.