Magic Choral Trick #237 The Wavering Pitch

The Wavering Pitch is one which is supposed to be steady, but which, for a variety of reasons begins to wander sharp, flat or back and forth.

This is the most obvious problem with singing along to a song while wearing head phones. And we the singers are blissfully unaware.

Meanwhile, family members in the same room are snickering.

Unfortunately, there are some similar elements present when we’re singing in a group setting. We can’t necessarily hear ourselves – so we have no idea how cleanly we’re singing.

First – just to reassure everyone – absolutely nobody in a good sized chorus situation is actually singing as well as they think they are.

And as I think I’ve mentioned before, this needn’t bum us out, because once we’re all aware of this, it provides us with a huge opportunity to improve. If each singer cleans things up only a little, the quality of singing in the whole group suddenly improves dramatically.

However, before there’s any improvement, we each need to know what we’re dealing with. So step one is to record yourself, while singing in the midst of the chorus.

Generally, the first issue is the unintended Wavering Pitch, which can happen:

– as a result of losing mental focus

– because of losing physical support

– as we get distracted by pitch movement in some of the other voice parts

– as we change our volume or dynamic level

– because we’ve never paid attention to what a cleanly sustained pitch feels like, rather than how it sounds.

The next step is to practise singing any sustained pitch into our Korg Chromatic Tuners, ( )  while paying attention to how an unwavering pitch feels.

Now try recording your sustained pitches while you’re wearing headphones – and with your eyes closed, so that you can pay attention to the physical cues.

Once we start doing even a little of this work, we can keep tabs on our improvement by recording ourselves each week on the risers while we’re singing with the chorus.


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 March 13, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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