Magic Choral Trick #208 Thought Balloon
In all the years I sang in choirs I think the only instructions I got about how to sing the onset of a note musically was in the negative:
“Get rid of the glottal attack”
“Don’t bump the entry”
“Back off that first note”
Ok – occasionally a director would say “We need a more smooth entry”. But there was no instruction about the thoughts we were to think that would make that happen. And sometimes, the more adamant the director became about it, the more stressed we all felt – and the glitchy entries just got worse.
In recent years, Marvel comics have been a big deal in our house. As I was putting one away the other day I realized that the thought balloon was the perfect visual to describe the onset of the first note in a phrase.
So I’ve been experimenting on my choruses (again) and it seems to be working.
I ask them to think of the shape of a thought balloon as they sing the first note. I draw the shape for them quite quickly, so that they get right to the bloom of the vowel after they’ve sung the tiny onset sound. I find that I move my hands fast at first, and then slow the movement a bit for the vowel bloom.
This ends up looking a bit like the Bloom Gesture ( https://betterchoirs.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/magic-choral-trick-203-the-bloom-gesture/ ) – but with a much more specific beginning.