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Magic Choral Trick #217 Onion Skin Stacking

Here’s another one from Jim Henry’s kinesiology and singing list.

Onion Skin Stacking is great for keeping repeated notes in tune – and preventing them from slipping.

Ask the group to sing a series of words all on the one pitch. If they stay in tune – lucky you.

If however, they are like almost every amateur choir and go a bit flatter with every repetition of the pitch – try this:

When the first note is sung place one hand, palm down, as if it were sitting on a countertop.

Second note – place the palm of the other hand on top of the back of the first hand

Third note – take the first palm out from underneath and place on top

Like stacking Onion Skins

I tried this recently with my Men’s Barbershop Chorus with the version of Away in a Manger that starts with both the pick up and the downbeat on the dominant.

As they sang, and did these hand movements, it was amazing. It was perhaps the first time I’d ever heard a group sing that second note high enough!

As the Christmas performance progressed, the Onion Skin Stacking hand gesture became a really useful directing tool too.

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