When we want to carry the sound over from one phrase to another without a breath, it’s never enough to simply not breathe.
If there’s a good enough reason to carry through, what we really want is to sweep the audience along with us.
And while phrases like “spin the sound here” and “create an arch in the sound” work for some of our singers, our more pragmatic chorus members may need other imagery.
Since most people are aware of the energy kick when you change gears on a standard car, I’ve found the Gear Change an effective tool.
There’s even a ready made director’s hand signal – as if I’m changing gears on a sporty little convertible. As I’ve mentioned before, hand signals save precious time in rehearsal because once the chorus knows and has imitated the signal themselves, they understand exactly what I want.
Yes, I do have other more graceful ways of indicating energy flow from one phrase to another – but sometimes my groups just seem to sleep through these moves and not really notice them. The Gear Change is not flowy and attractive – but they notice it.
I should also mention that, as with asking for any increased energy flow from one phrase to another, the energy increase should be on the target vowel.
For example, if in Amazing Grace I decided that I wanted to flow straight from those first two words into ‘how sweet the sound’, I would make the gear change motion on the back end of the target vowel for the word ‘grace’.
So it would happen like this
Amazing Greh……..(Gear change/crescendo/energy flow boost/tone spin/intensify the vowel/arch here) eecehow sweet.
I’ve included the extra descriptors in the bracket above because as with any effect I want I usually have to say it about 5 or 6 different ways for every singer to understand what I mean.
The Gear Change is not pretty, but it’s been working well for me.