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Fugue Independence

I am a student currently studying at the University of Southern Maine. I am taking a Chorale Conducting class and I am currently working on the piece Dixit Maria. What are some ways to promote a student's musical independance whilst being thrown into the chaotic puzzle that fugue's can be?
While working on this moderatly chalenging piece, my number one method so far has been count singing (1 + 2 + T + 4 + ). This method has worked very well to break apart the lines for the rest of the students, so they can hear the contrapuntal lines interweave. While rehearsing the piece"on text", the energy starts to dwindle and forte's are reduced to soft piano's. Thoughts?
Thank you for your time!
on April 17, 2014 8:30am
I assume what you mean is that they lose confidence when they no longer have the support of hearing the beats spoken out loud to help orient them. I can think of several ways to ease the transition from count-singing into words:
  • Speak the text in rhythm without pitches. This might be especially useful if they're unfamiliar with singing in Latin.
  • Sing the music with the syllable "ta" in place of the words. This helps keep the various parts together (the t's are particularly easy to hear) so they don't get ahead or behind.
  • Have them tap the beats or subdivisions with a free finger. The goal is for them to internalize a steady beat regardless of what rhythms are in their parts, and marking the beat physically is a useful way to train this.
  • Divide the group up and have some of them sing on words while the others continue count-singing. Vary who does what.
Good luck!
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