ChorTeach is ACDA’s quarterly publication for choral conductors and teachers at all levels. It is published online, and each issue contains four practical articles. If you are not already a member of ACDA, you can join as an Associate for $45 per year and receive access to ChorTeach and the Choral Journal online. Below is an excerpt from an article written by Gabriela Hristova an appearing in the Winter 2017 issue, available here.
As I reflect on my years of training, teaching, and performing, I realize that the amount of information that needs to be transmitted, cultivated, and assimilated in the choir room is vast. The gradual steps required for building healthy vocal technique and ensemble awareness, the depth of musical detail explained, the motivation and encouragement involved in the singing process, are infinite. Yet, there is a magical simplicity in all of this, a simplicity that makes the process enjoyable and fulfilling. I ask myself these questions: a. what are the most important aspects of this process I want my students to embrace and care about? b. What are the seeds I want to plant in their hearts and minds to carry on after they have sung under my direction?
Here is what I have found. I try to communicate these ideas to singers on a daily basis:
- Music is more about responding to sounds (after we understand the musical story) than making them.
- Listening is the key to sensible ensemble awareness.
- Connecting with those around us makes all the difference.
- There are three aspects to every sound: beginning-duration-ending. Care for the duration of each note as you would for a child and respecting the silence between sounds is crucial.
- Meaningful texts set to music are powerful and have the potential for changing lives. Absorb word meaning. Let the meaning of texts color your singing.
- Think in shapes and colors. Affect is derived from phrasing, not rhythms and notes alone.
- Be your own conductor. Take ownership of the inner pulse of a work.
- The intake of breath is the essence of life. Think about the first breath of a newborn baby.
- Emotion breathes life into notes and rhythms we sing or play. Without emotion, however perfect the notes and rhythms may be, they are just notes and rhythms. The good news is, emotion is an integral part of our being.
- Eagles have incredible vision and are able to see many things at once from a broad perspective with complete clarity. Chickens have poor vision and can only see what is immediately in front of them. Be an eagle.
- Posture is audible! Share your joy and appreciation by visibly engaging in the now.
- Share your heart. Singing is highly instinctive, a powerful reaction to and reflection of our emotions.
- Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Open your mind’s ear. Our minds have incredible potential for understanding musical content on both intuitive and analytical levels.
- Making music is a privilege. Invest physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Find the rest of this article (and more!) at acda.org/chorteach
View the ChorTeach annotated index to see all the articles from our archives!