Last week I taught a vocal training workshop with The Gentle Singers in Oldenzaal (NL). We spent 2 1/2 hours on the vocal quality of the choir by adressing the individual vocal quality of the singers. The result was a beautiful sounding choir where fifteen singers sounded like one voice and agreed on musical expression.

What to focus on in a small ensemble

When singing in a small ensemble there are a few things to consider. Unlike singing in a large choir, where your voice becomes part of a bigger, general sound, in small ensembles we follow a more soloist approach to singing. But nevertheless, we are focussed on the sound and colour of our fellow singers to produce a very colourful spectrum of blended sound. The challenge in a small ensemble is to be able to sing solistically but in the meantime focus on constantly adjusting your own colour to your fellow singers and to the music.

Bass singers in a small men’s choir

Basses in a small ensemble have a big responsability. You’d like to hear a real deep bass sound that builds the foundation of a powerful ensemble sound but at the same time you’d like to understand the lyrics they are singing. Luckily, in an ensemble you never sing alone. One singer might be able to sing really low and could have a really deep sound where the other might sound lighter and more understandable in his lyrics. In a vocal training workshop you can learn to listen to the sound quality of your fellow singers. The deepest bass makes the sound resonate for all the other basses and the lighter bass helps the whole group to be more articulate. It all depends on the ability to consider the total sound of your group and how to use your own sound to help create the perfect blend. Treating all vowels and consonants identically helps a lot. The basses of The Gentle SIngers understood what I was talking about: They sounded great! Thumbs up, guys!

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