Magic Choral Trick #298 Johnny One Note
One of the very best synchronization tricks I know
Work the song phrase by phrase, with everyone singing the words on only one note. This way, it’s a simple matter to work on word stress, speech rhythm, rubato, and target vowels and their diphthong resolutions.
It’s simple because without the melody and harmony, the synchronization issues become obvious to everyone.
It’s especially effective if the chorus is standing in 4X4 arrangement on the floor (rather than on the risers), with one part on each side of the rectangle, facing in to where the director is standing in the middle
With my Men’s chorus last night I also had a lot of success with adding hand signals for the formed target vowels. For the word ‘time’ I used The Claw: https://betterchoirs.wordpress.com/2013/11/07/magic-choral-trick-287-the-claw/ for the ‘Ah’ vowel, pulled it away from the mouth as the note was sustained, then we all quickly and smoothly turned our hands around for the quick ‘eem’ and cut off.
When there’s only one note being sung, everyone can hear much more clearly what needs to happen.
Once each phrase has been worked, then the joins between them can be cleaned up.
It’s always a little tricky when melody and harmony are added back into the equation. The basses will once again feel that they need a bit more time to move those low notes around – but this can usually be helped by singing with a headier tone.
The more difficult vocal technique spots will be obvious immediately – but now at least everyone has a template in their head of what great synchronization should feel like.