Monthly Archives: July 2015

Magic Choral Trick #346 Choral Tools of the Trade Video

Just created a short video to go along with these older posts


Elastic Bands



And here’s the video

Magic Choral Trick #345 Korg Chromatic Tuner Demo

I’ve done a couple of posts before featuring this fabulous tool:




Here’s a short video I just did to give you an idea of how it’s used.

Magic Choral Trick #344 Formed Vowel Hand Movements

These hand movements train us to focus on clean formed vowels, and help to ingrain them in the body, so that these unified vowels become a habit.

The formed vowels are ‘ee’, ‘ay’, ‘ah, ‘oh’ and ‘oo’, and these are the hand signs that I use.

There’s something about the isometric nature of the pull or push in each one that creates a taller, richer, more unified sound.

And as a director, I find it really useful to be able to use these signals to remind choruses to lock in to a vowel. When my singers have rehearsed these movements, they already know what this sound/movement combination feels like – and can reproduce it when they see me giving them the cues.

Here’s the video I’ve just made so that you can see the hand movements I use… (So new at this that I have yet to figure out why sometimes the first few seconds of sound have no accompanying video. Just hang in there, and the video does appear)

Magic Choral Trick #343 Singing Warm Up – 11 Steps to Forward Placement

For all you visual folks – just uploaded a video of my favourite vocal warm up tricks – designed to bring the sound forward.

The tricks are:

1. Breath of Fire
2. Brass Buzz
3. Finger in Cheek
4. Zzzzz
5. Bubbling
6. Lip Ring
7. Knuckle Sandwich
8. Peter Pointer Guardrails
9. Moustache Hands
10. Cheek Wings
11. Bugs Bunny Teeth

And here’s the Youtube link:

Magic Choral Trick #342 Fabulous Fifths

Some groups learn to know and love the sound and feel of an open fifth sooner and more consciously than others.

Organum chant groups and Barbershop quartets and choruses are among these. And Tibetan monks take it to an extraordinary level!

When the interval of a fifth is sung exactly in tune – steadily, with no vibrato, there’s a cavernous hollowness to the sound but an incredible feeling of fullness and rightness to the physical sensation. This is probably why we moved on from singing plainchant in unison. It just felt so good!

Here’s an exercise I use for making a chorus or choir aware and appreciative of fifths while still having warm up fun.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat, or Three Blind Mice, or Freres Jacques – or any short melody that’s known to my singers.

I have the 2 lower voices sing the melody in a fairly low key, then at the same time I have the upper two voices sing the same song a fifth higher.

So I’d have my choral Tenors and Basses, or my Barbershop Baritones and Basses sing the song in the key of C – while having the upper two voices sing the same song in the key of G.

This is also a good warm up for the brain. Because everyone knows the melody, they need to focus quite hard on singing it in their part’s key.

I like to slow it all down once they’ve got the hang of it, so that they can really appreciate and lock in the fifths. They’ll also begin to notice that when the fifths are locked in, the sound rings and expands, so that it sounds like a much bigger group.

Here are a few groups who’ve got the locked in fifths handled. (Ensemble Organum) (Organum Duplum) (Vocal Spectrum) (GQ – Girls Quartet My goodness these young women are amazing!!!)

%d bloggers like this: