Magic Choral Trick #55 Singing in Tempo –

Seems so simple. If we want the synchronization to be better, the most fundamental principle is that everyone has to be singing at the same tempo.

However, the following exercise will make it pretty clear that there isn’t much agreement amongst chorus members about where each beat lands.

Ask everyone to place a hand on the shoulder of the person next to them and tap the beat of the song – as they’re singing.

From a director’s point of view, you’ll probably see the beat landing in clusters around the beat that you’re directing – lots of tapping landing only in the general vicinity of the beat.

From a chorus member’s point of view it’ll be hard to believe that your neighbour could be so wrong about where that beat should land!

Fortunately, it’s no longer necessary for everyone to go out and buy a metronome for practising at home. If you’re reading this blog, you have access to the internet and a wonderful site called:

Once a tempo for a song is chosen (and preferably emailed out to remind the chorus), everyone can practise the song at home with the computer objectively clicking out the beat. Just click on the appropriate little circle next to the number of beats per minute that you want, turn up your speakers and sing along.

Of course, to hear how well this is actually going – record yourself. It really doesn’t matter whether you’re a pro or an absolute novice – when you listen to the recording the first few times, you’ll be sucking in air through closed teeth. But please, please, please hang in there.

A small improvement from each individual chorus member makes a huge difference to the group.


About janetkidd

I've been waving my arms in front of choirs now for more than 35 years - and these are descriptions of all the very best things I've learned. I direct a Women's Competitive Barbershop Chorus, a Men's Competitive Barbershop Chorus, a Med School choir, and for a few weeks each year - Big Choir (about 100 voices) - which performs at an annual fundraising concert. Hope at least some of these Choral Magic Tricks will be useful to you - and thanks for reading. Janet

Posted on January 11, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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