Thanks to Sue Kember, Director of the ScotianAires Chorus for working this magic at her Harmony Inc workshop.
Organizing standing position by voice type:
Clarions – clear, bell-like and usually fairly small voices
Resonants – rich voices that blend well. Not likely to pop out of the texture regardless of where they’re standing.
Drivers – usually bigger, well focused voices. Need to stand behind the others so that they don’t constantly feel that they have to hold back in order to blend.
Directors and Music Team – you may already know many of the voices in your chorus, in which case you’ll need less time than we used last night for my women’s chorus.
You won’t necessarily get an accurate picture of a singer’s production style if they’re put on the spot and have to sing alone in front of the chorus – so what I did last night was to bring down one row at a time off the risers and walk along listening to each singer as they sang Mary Had a Little Lamb. As I passed each one, I gave them a number 1 for Clarions, 2 for Resonants and 3 for Drivers.
Once I’d listened down the whole row, they went and stood in the designated spot for their voice type – away from the risers.
Then I brought down the next row and the next and so on until I’d categorized all the singers.
There were about the right number of Clarions for the front row, then two rows of Resonants, then finally, about the right number of Drivers for the back row.
We then sang the same song as we’d been working on just prior to doing this exercise.
Wow! Richer sound, more blended, and what seemed to be effortless volume.
I know that when Sue (Kember) did this exercise with us in the fall I found it so much easier to sing between two other Clarions. Usually my fairly small voice feels a bit lost in a group, but when I was standing between two other people with a similar voice type, it felt as if I were part of a powerhouse!