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Magic Choral Trick #330 When Even Really Good Learning Tracks Aren’t Enough

Sometimes the Learning Tracks, especially for the uptunes, aren’t quite slow enough for the chorus members to get a solid feel for the harmony – or even for the single line pitches in fast sections.

Someday, someone out there will develop an easy to use sound file program with which you can slow down short sections, then repeat and repeat these few bars at gradually increased tempi until they’re learned really well.

However, until then Directors will need to spend their Sunday evenings making slo mo sound files of the trouble spots that fly by too quickly on the Learning Track.

This can be done by recording the section being played slowly on the piano (then emailing out the recording) or by emailing out a recorded Finale file.

And though it’s labour intensive, and I have yet to figure out how to do it, Audacity (free downloadable recording software) allows you to slow down sound files, but retain the pitch. So that’s certainly a useful option.

It’s always a toss up when we’re commissioning someone to do a learning track for us for an uptune. Do we go with the tempo at which we want to perform the song, so that the tempo and feel of the song will be solidly learned by the singers? Or do we ask for a slower sound file so that the notes will be learned cleanly?

Recently we’ve been choosing to have the learning tracks at a slightly slower tempo, and then when the notes are learned I ask the chorus to begin singing their parts along with a metronome – set at the tempo we’ll want to perform the song.

When I first began directing, metronomes in the homes of my singers were few and far between. Nowadays many of my singers have free downloadable metronome apps on their phones.

Not a day goes by when I don’t bless these technological advances. The days of banging out notes are mercifully long gone, and rehearsals that focus on great sound, musicality and presentation are now so much more fun!!

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