As choir singers, it isn’t often we have to deal with equipment. We’re a big, loud group so amplification isn’t always needed, and if it is, it’s usually the whole ensemble who are miced up rather than the individual singers. However, if there’s one bit of musical gear everyone should be familiar with, it’s the Shure SM58 microphone. Continue reading “What’s in a mic?”
Message from Sue:
Dear Fellow Choir Members,
We have come a long way since we started up our choir and have achieved some great music making and good camaraderie, all due to Emily’s leadership, musicianship and zany ways, which have kept us upbeat. So, now she needs some time to pursue the other side to her career and we wish her well, whilst giving her enormous thanks for all of her hard work. We owe it to her to keep the choir vibrant and moving forward.
It was fortunate that Andrew came to the choir a year ago ready to take over whilst Emily had her operation. Some of you will know that I have sung in another choir under Andrew’s direction for about 6 years and knew of his vast experience, but more importantly, his skill and ability to develop a choir. It has given us the chance to get used to him and for Andrew to get to know us and our ways. So, the ‘change’ should be seamless and our future will be one that Emily would approve of, making her continuing connection with us a positive one.
I hope that you will put your trust in me to look after the choir and in Andrew to develop us as a group of people who enjoy singing.
Message from Andrew:
I am very pleased, and feel honoured to have been invited to lead Bigmouth Chorus. I have enjoyed singing in the choir, and it has been a great pleasure for me to get to know you as a group, through teaching and conducting some pieces, and talking to individual members in breaks in rehearsal. It has been a pleasure, too, to work with Emily, and I would like very much to maintain our connection with her in the future.
I think that two features of the choir are important, and I would like to emphasise my commitment to maintaining both of them. Firstly, the range of music that we perform will remain broadly as it has been: pop songs of different kinds and from different eras, folk songs including world music, songs from shows, and perhaps the occasional light classical piece. Secondly, that every member is valued, and that the approaches to teaching and learning music will continue to support those who like to learn through reading music and those who prefer to learn aurally, using online audio files and word sheets. I will do my best to understand how different members of the group learn, and will try to provide support materials that you find helpful. Please do feel free to tell me what works for you.
Whilst I, like any choir director, will aim for us to achieve the highest standards of which we are capable, I don’t want that to be at the expense of our enjoying the choir as a social group – our music making is the expression of our togetherness. Emily will be a hard act to follow, but I will do my best to make rehearsals both stimulating and fun, and it is good to know that she will return to work with us from time to time.
We all know Bigmouth is different to a normal choir. Instead of covering choral classics, we’re constantly looking for new pop and rock songs to add to our repertoire, but where does “pop” come from? Pop is a nebulous thing to define, and it went through several stages before becoming pop music we would recognise today. Continue reading “The Origin of Pop”
We’ve spent some time before talking about the history of singing. We know it’s been a part of human history since before humans were even recognisable as such, but what about recording? When was the first recording of a human singing?
Recording technology hasn’t been around all that long. Though some people have hypothesised a kind of archaeoacoustics, reading waves of sound etched into clay pots as they spun, though this idea has fallen out of favour. Continue reading “The earliest recordings”
The voice of every individual is as unique as one’s fingerprint. While your Alexa might not be able to tell the difference between two people, the human ear is certainly capable of pointing out differences in voices. So what creates these differences and what do the differences mean for our singing?
Firstly, the biggest factor in shaping your voice is your training. A good singing teacher can near enough get anything from a singer with time, dedication and persistence. There’s very little that will stop most people being able to hit a certain note, though there are outliers and some biological limitations that should be seen as gifts rather than limits. Obviously, if someone has a naturally low voice, there’s not much point learning to sing solely high notes, especially when good bass voices are hard to find. Continue reading “Why do people have different vocal ranges?”
A lot of people thinking singing happens entirely in the throat and mouth, but those in the know recognise singing is a full body activity. Good posture is a vital component in setting up a great singing voice. Without it, it’s like trying to play a guitar with a crooked neck or a piano with the keys stuck down – it just doesn’t work. Continue reading “The Joy of Posture”
Perfect pitch is one of the most enviable talents a musician can possess. It is the ability to identify and recreate a note, though it comes in two forms.
The first is absolute pitch, the ability to recreate notes without using a reference point. Someone with absolute pitch would be able to identify the note produced by everyday sounds such as a car alarm or could recreate a piece of music perfectly. It’s is believed to be a very rare occurrence with estimates suggesting that 1 in every 10,000 people possess the trait.
The second is relative pitch, which is the ability to work out the relation between two notes by using a reference note. For example, someone could play a reference note, like middle C, and then play a second sound which the listener could identify based on the reference note, i.e. “two octaves above middle C”. Unlike absolute pitch, relative pitch is a fairly common skill amongst music students, as it is the same skill we use to sing melodies by ear. Continue reading “What is perfect pitch?”
Probably the biggest hurdle to overcome in singing is the creeping feeling that you’re secretly the worst singer in history; that you might be …TONE DEAF!
When people say “tone deaf” they refer to the supposed phenomena that one cannot tell the difference between two notes. It’s the kind of thing thrown around in casual conversation to dismiss oneself as a singer. In fact, it’s so common a phrase that many people falsely believe they are tone deaf and thus, beyond all hope as a singer. Continue reading “Are you actually “tone deaf”?”
We’ve had our first proper bit of autumn rain now, which means the summer sun is soon to be a memory. Once the sun goes, most peoples moods go with it. The sun gives us much needed energy, and we’re at our most sociable during the long summer days – at the beach, seeing friends – and this also gives us that extra pep.
With Autumn and Winter now looming, most people expect to feel a little less than their regular selves. More nights in alone, less new experiences, fewer people. Sounds bleak, doesn’t it? But all hope is not lost! Fortunately, there is a way to bump your mood up, maintain that positive human contact, and keep you smiling until the sun comes back. Continue reading “Keep the Summer going!”
Now the Summer break is drawing to an end, we have a brand new year of Bigmouth to look forward to. This means it’s time to dust off those rusty pipes and get singing again!
While we’d love to think everybody has remained diligent in their personal practice of singing, we know the allure of the sun and sand too well and we know that for many of us, Summer just isn’t the time to sing. Continue reading “Getting back into the swing of things”