Just got back from a terrific coaching weekend with Katie Taylor, director of the International Champion Barbershop chorus – Northern Blend.
I’m sure I’ll be mentioning a number of the things she showed us, but this trick is simple, so effective for opening up resonating space in the mouth – and for bringing the sound forward.
In fact, I think this the most miraculous thing I’ve learned in many months.
Even if your choir members are convinced that they are singing with forward placement and lots of resonating space, you can probably put money on the fact that about 25% either don’t understand what you mean, or do understand but are not doing nearly enough.
This technique just bypasses the thought process altogether, which is always the best possible type of trick.
With palms of the hands facing down, and fingers together, (not spread) touch the tips of the two middle fingers together. Now place the two hands in this position – flat, and still palms down – at the upper lip – like a moustache. Ask the singers to imagine singing out over the top of the flat surface created by the hands.
I’m calling this the Moustache Hands Trick because the hands and forearms end up looking like a giant moustache.
No idea why this is so effective. But the quality of the sound is suddenly amazingly resonant and blended.
It has worked so fabulously for my women’s chorus, that I can hardly wait to try it out on the men’s chorus, and the student choir.
The results are obvious even with only one person singing. I asked my son to sing the first phrase of a hymn – the normal way, and then with his hands in the Moustache position. The second way had much more ring to the sound. I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t imagining things so I sang the first line of the hymn while my husband and my son listened – first normally and then with this trick. Apparently there was no question that the second way was more resonant.
Pretty exciting! (Thank you Katie)