Advertise on ChoralNet 
ChoralNet logo
The mission of the ACDA is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.

Elementary Diction Drudge

I'm looking for ideas to help our elementary choir students sing with clear diction. We've tried drilling the words, having them repeat specific consonants, but as you can imagine this method can quickly disintegrate into a yelling/chanting fest lacking all musicality. Suggestions? 
on May 2, 2014 6:00am
Perhaps you could use a quality digital recorder and record them singing.  Upon playing it for them, they can hear themselves and appreciate the points you are making about unclear diction.  Make a list on the board of the words that are unclear or have sloppy cutoffs, and then work specifically on those.  Record them again to listen for improvement.
If you play the piano for your own rehearsals, which I do, get away from the piano and conduct those unclear consonants several times in a row - not an entire phrase, but just one specific word.  Just moving away from the piano will garner their attention, and you can almost make a game of their watching you for the cutoff or other cue for clarity.
I also remind my choir throughout rehearsal about consonants that are coming up in certain phrases.  Young singers have to really think about all of the many tasks required of them simultaneously when singing.  They need a lot of reminders - not because they don't pay attention, but because they are inexperienced and can't remember it all on their own.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on May 3, 2014 4:48am
Try using different accents.  If I am looking for crisp diction for young singers, I often will put on a "julia Child" voice - they don't know who it is any more, but it's funny and gets them engaged - they need to repeat with a very proper sounding British accent.  Sometimes I will juxtapose that with other accents - New York, Country, Elvis, just to get a comparison, and then come back to the way it would sound best. It gives them a point of comparison of what might be the best way to pronounce text for the song you are working on. Repeating the words in rhythm with rhythmic releases is also extremely important, and as you point out, it must be done musically. You might have half the choir listen to the other half and judge what they think of the diction with a thumbs up thumbs down, thumbs in the middle, and then trade resposnisibilities so they are listening to each other. Competition to do well is a powerful motivator!
Good luck!
  • You must log in or register to be able to reply to this message.