Singing in a choir is a wholely unique and thrilling experience. Being part of the wall of sound and texture of harmonies is a special feeling that brings many singers great satisfaction. Sometimes, however, choral singers face vocal challenges that are unique to this group setting. So, what should a choral singer know about their voice, how it functions, and whether voice lessons may a good investment?
- Blending In.
If you’ve ever sung in a group setting, you probably already know how important the ability to ‘blend’ is for a choral singer. The entire goal of choral singing is to ensure an even mesh of tonality, with no singular voice protruding from the mix. So, how do that work exactly? You may have heard your choir director talk a lot about vowels in rehearsal– and for good reason! By unifying the vowel shape of each word, the voices take on a more homogenous blend. Of course, maintaining appropriate volume is crucial, too, but also easier for the average singer to self-monitor. If you’re uncertain about choral blending, Voice lessons can be a great place to study different vowel colors and how to better control them.
The ability to hear your own voice is greatly diminished in a choral setting (especially for high voice types), thanks to all the other amazing voices around you! Of course, this makes singing difficult for some singers– those who are used to adapting their technique based on the sounds they hear themselves making. This commonly leads to an increase in jaw tension– a big no-no for safe singing! Rather than trying to listen to yourself (usually by creating jaw tension which places pressure on your inner ear so you can hear yourself better), focus on learning to sing by feel. By focusing on the healthy sensations you experience when you’re singing in a safe and reliable way, you can overcome many of the choral singing traps and save yourself a lot of vocal fatigue!
It’s probably no surprise that singing loudly in a less than optimal way eventually leads to voice damage, especially if a singer feels the need to compete with the other voices around them (again, to hear themself- best avoided!). What does singing loudly in a healthy way feel like? If you’re not sure, maybe it’s time to meet with a voice teacher to learn some new techniques! The blanket term “breath support” is key here, but can also be slightly different for different people, so it’s a great investment to have a knowledgeable voice teacher help you assess and tweak your own personal system of singing.
This important element of choral singing is the other ‘biggie’ that choir directors tend to go on and on about, and rightly so! However, it’s not uncommon for overzealous choral singers to over-do it. Diction, or clear enunciation, comes from our articulators: our lips, our teeth, and our tongue. So, if you’re following your director’s instructions to enunciate MORE (and maybe even carrying some of the burden for some of your less-eager colleagues), you can easily find yourself working too hard and throwing off your system of vocal efficiency. In other words, voices don’t work as well (or as beautifully) when they’re carrying too much load. Take it easy! Voice lessons can be a great place to undo negative tensions and help you learn what efficient enunciation and clean diction should feel like.
At Cardon Voice, we love working with Choral Singers! If you’re struggling with your voice after choir rehearsal, or perhaps you’ve set the goal of auditioning for a competitive choir, please feel free to reach out for support from a voice teacher. Ready to dive in? Click here to connect with a teacher for a Free Consultation.