giovedì 9 ottobre 2014

The correct posture of the choir-singer

I translate a short excerpt from the most famous German method for chorus: Basiswissen Kirchenmusik 2 (Chor- und Ensembleleitung), that is Fundamentals of church music, volume 2 Conducting of choir and ensemble), which among other things is defined text ecumenical, because it is intended to churches of various denominations

On p.78 we find interesting principles of the corrrect posture of the singer, and of course these recommendations apply to children because the physiological fundamentals are the same for children and adults.

The text reads thus:

"The posture. Singer intends conscious his whole body as a instrument. A good attitude stems from a balance of active muscles and relaxed. A key element of our body is the spine. Given that the vocal muscles and especially the respiratory muscles (diaphragm) are closely related to the spine, physical exercises in choir should always be aimed at straightening the spine. The result will then automatically correct the position of the head and a free and open
chest. Good posture not only improves breathing and vocal duties, but also the attention and concentration of the singers. Experience has shown that a posture in tension upright and natural, standing or sitting, it makes the singer attentive and motivated, and every director want an attentive cantor." 

Are also given some practical advice:

"Only non-rigid body, but also not without support, is the basis for a good song. Physical exercises are mainly for straightening the spine. Exercises for posture and breathing should never be considered in isolation from context of the emission of sound."

It is provided with this picture, the caption which describes "the position of the diaphragm":


martedì 30 settembre 2014

Studying a piano piece in an effective way

FingeringI responded to a question in a forum that was set like this: "what is the ideal method to study well a piece on the piano with the minimum of expenditure of time and energy?"

The question is complex. First, the "ideal method" is a subjective choice, because it depends on the psychological characteristics of the individual.

To begin the discussion, I suggest some preliminary tasks:

1) Read the music in theory: try to sing the parts, such as the main melody, but also the bass and possibly the inner parts; try to follow the music at the right time, also helping with the hand movements (similar to those of the conductor); is therefore a mental reading and at the same time voice and gesture. This is to keep all the parameters of the sound, those written and those that can be deduced from an analysis or a subjective choice; then try to imagine them in your mind; Finally, try to translate them into movements of the body functional and effective.

2) try to finger the piece; if the fingerings are already marked on the score, try to hide them and look for your fingering; in this way you can immediately enter into the hearts of executive problems. The fingering prescribed in the score (which is rarely the work of the author, more often than a reviewer) can be studied later, as compared with your choices; but the starting point must be a careful personal observation of the figuration of music, so that it can be done with a proper fingering. The fingering has two purposes: to find the most comfortable position; find an effective application of the choices of phrasing.

3) identify the physical movements appropriate to the individual rhythmic movement (meaning always up to beat the next movement): in this way, when you go to the piano you already have a full awareness of what needs to be done to make the most of every single passage.

giovedì 18 settembre 2014

Singing involves body and soul

I translate a short excerpt (p.75) from the most famous German method for chorus: Basiswissen Kirchenmusik 2 (Chor- und Ensembleleitung), ie Fundamentals of church music, volume 2 Conducting of choir and ensemble), which moreover defines ecumenical text, because it is intended to churches of various denominations.

Vocal choral training
Initial reflection  

The song is a gift to humanity. Only man can lead immediately to the expression his emotions and his feelings and express themselves artistically singing.  

Singing is a holistic event for both the singer and the listener.  

A singer who presents an happy song convincingly see happy faces in the audience and even if the text has not been understood.

Conversely, it has effects on listeners when a choir sings only forced and loud. In a relatively short time, the public will react with discomfort, lose interest, you will cough and clear your throat.

Voice and mood are directly related to each other. 

In speaking and singing the individual becomes a person (from the Latin personare, resound through something).  
Even in language use reflects the fact that the use of the voice is always about the whole person: be willing, to get better or worse, determine, agree, to assent - all examples of holistic and communicative part of the voice.

The work on the voice so is always work on the whole person, body and soul.  

So far my translation. Particularly interesting, in the original German, the pun between Stimme (voice) and Stimmung (mood), with various derivations verbal wohlstimmen (which I translated as: being willing), bestimmen (to determine), abstimmen (to agreed), zustimmen (to assent). 



martedì 4 febbraio 2014

Christmas Concert in primary school

The project which I was required includes the performance of a concert performed by 94 boys and girls in classes first, second, third, fourth and fifth in a primary school in a suburb of Verona. The school, which has only one section, is located in a beautiful building, in a hilly area very green and quiet.
The project involves the use of Orff instruments and a keyboard. I decided to avoid the use of pre-recorded backing tracks, which seem to me not very effective from the didactic point of view.
The instruments are supplied to the school are claves, snare drums, tambourines with bells, triangles, castanets, maracas, little bells. Each song provides therefore an instrumental accompaniment based on the melody and harmonic support entrusted to a keyboard and a rhythmic structure entrusted to the small instruments.
Orff instruments In the preparation of the scores I choose the rhythm instruments based on the timbre (in relation to the text and music) and then realized a polyphonic rhythmic structure (in two or three parts), I choose to keep constant throughout the song: we are in a situation of initial approach to music education.
In November there were four meetings in each of the five classes. The first meeting was dedicated to a mutual presentation: the children had to learn this music teacher, I had to know the kids and quickly understand their potential. For this reason I have set up an intervention plan that includes easy rhythm games (to be implemented with the voice, hands and feet, possibly with other movements of the body) and games of intonation, based on the scheme "question and answer". Finally, I proposed the most famous of Christmas songs ("Silent Night"), even if it is not the easiest for both the rhythm and for the extension of the vocal part.
Subsequent meetings will follow a similar pattern (rhythmic, intonation, learning of the text), applied to a series of songs, chosen among the most famous. The time is short, we have to optimize it.
In December we had three ensemble rehearsals in the school gym. On this occasion most of the 94 children have made ​one great chorus, while some of them have even tried the rhythmic structure I expected the score. The keyboard instead was entrusted to a young student of music bigger and more experienced.
We then had dress rehearsals in the environment where the concert took place: the parish church of the district.
The concert was therefore the result of a learning path.