It’s not often that you get to ask a group of music industry leading professionals for their top tips, so we were thrilled to get the opportunity to ask some of the UK’s best workshop leaders for you at 2019’s UK Choir Festival events. These guys have more accolades, choirs and performances under their belts than most, and their years of experience and specialist training make them musical gurus in the eyes of any choir.
We thought these words of wisdom were too good to leave in the archives, so we thought the start of a brand new year would be a great time to re-share them with you. Enjoy!
What’s your top tip for choirs?
Emily Dickens – Internationally established soprano and conductor, and full-time member of British vocal ensemble VOCES8:
Top tip: “Be experimental and creative with the voice to find all the different sounds possible and listen for the dead air between beats.”
Dominic Ellis-Peckham – Chorus director, conductor, presenter and educator:
Top tip: “Listening is everything… leave everything else at the door!”
Mat Wright – Teacher, conductor, composer and founder of the award-winning Barnsley Youth Choir:
Top tip: “Audiences will always forgive a wrong note but never a lack of energy, commitment and passion. Communicate the story of a piece by creating a personal image and allow yourself the freedom to express this, whilst also striving for technical accuracy.”
Carla Jane – Award-winning vocalist, choir director and workshop leader for gospel choirs and church vocal groups:
Top tip: “‘Sing it like you mean it’. Sometimes we sing songs and we don’t give it the expression that it needs, we don’t tell the story. Listeners love to be ‘moved’ by a choral performance and we have to find the best ways to do this with clarity and passion as we communicate the story within the song.”
Richard Eteson – Accomplished tenor, former member of The Swingle Singers and co-founder of the London A Cappella Festival:
Top tip: “Continual refinement – you can never stop improving, no matter how old you are or how many years you’ve been singing. You can always refine more and learn more. Also listen and have fun!”
Ula Weber – Conductor, teacher trainer and workshop leader:
Top tip: Don’t be scared of harmonising, as in don’t be scared of singing something that isn’t just the tune. Explore what your voice can do, explore different sounds and play around with it. And don’t worry too much about the dots in front of you – some choirs use music, some choirs don’t. But even if you don’t read music, you can still look at what’s on the page and how the text matches various notes.
Russell Scott – Producer, vocal coach, singer and creator of the UK Choir Festival:
Top tip: “Listen to each other as well as yourself. Try to work out not just how you’re singing and what you’re singing, but what sound you’re making, what you’re contributing and what it feels like to make a sound. It’s not just about the sound that’s coming out of your mouth at the time, but what does it feel like to make the sound and how can you change that sound?”
Got any tips of your own? Share them on Twitter at @RayburnConcert!
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