PDFs of various handouts are included here to build your knowledge base, refine your craft, and build your skills as choral music educators.
Bennett Reimer’s Philosophy of Music Education as Aesthetic Education (MEAE) in a Nutshell.
Reading Worksheets for Kenneth Phillips: Teaching Kids to Sing, 2nd edition
Powerpoint-style Reviews (PDFs) for Chapters 1-2; 4-7
TKTS Brief Mid-Term Review Sheet: Chapters 1-8
Future Bulletin Board Ideas!
Super-sized Handout #1 (SSH1): Functional Unity Fred (Vocal Pedagogy)
- Singing: A Full-Bodied Endeavor, p. 1
- Gemmell: Keys to Unlock Vaults of Vocal Gold, pp. 2-3
- Functional Unity Pyramid, p. 4
- Brief Overview: The Approach of Emile Jaques-Dalcroze (1865-1950), pp. 5-9
- Gemmell: Practical Applications: Music in (is) Motion! Let’s Do It!, p. 9
- Gemmell: Goals, Benefits, and Final Thoughts on Music in Motion, pp. 9-11
- Illustrations for Breath Management, p. 12-14
- Notes from Breathing for Singing Video, pp. 15-16
- Vocal Pedagogy: Pertinent Pedagogical Points (Primo Packet), pp. 17-23
- Voice Class Study Guide: Chapter 9: Making Sound [Phonation], pp. 24-25
- Illustrations for Phonation (Anatomy of the Larynx), pp. 26-27
- Resonance: Vowels Have Pitch!, p. 28
- Voice Class Vocalises: Resonance, p. 29
- Doscher Research Compilation: Definitions of Fixed Vowel Formants, pp. 30-32
- Resonance: Vowels Have Pitch (Formant Illustrations/Definititions), pp. 33-38
- International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), pp. 39-40
Super-sized Handout #2 (SSH2): Functional Unity Fred (cont’d)
- IPA Easy Reference Chart, p. 41
- Gemmell: Student Discovery Articles, pp. 42-47
- Gemmell: How to Teach Students to Match Pitch, pp. 48-49
- Various Vocalises, pp. 50-55
- Obituary: Barbara Doscher, p. 56
- Illustrations from The Functional Unity of the Singing Voice, p. 57
- Barbara Doscher/Berton Coffin Vocalises in Doscher’s notation, pp. 58-76
- Doscher Research Compilation: On the Stamina of the Singing Voice, pp. 77-78
- Vocal Health Do’s and Don’ts, p. 79
- Care of the Professional Voice, pp. 80-84
- Garrett: Safeguarding the Singer’s Voice: The Productive Cough, pp. 85-86
- Bibliography, p. 87
Super-sized Handout #3 (SSH3): Rehearsal Techniques #1
- Table of Contents, p. 1
- Gemmell: Choral Conductor as Voice Teacher: Movement, pp. 2-7
- Choral Ensemble Vocalises, p. 8
- Traditional South African Song: Somagwaza, p. 8
- Diebler, arr: I’m Goin’ Home on a Cloud, p. 9
- Byrd: Non nobis, Domine, p. 10
- Bibliography, p. 11
- Gemmell: Graduate Symposium: Rehearsals That Re-____,” pp. 12-14
- Hand Signs Handout, p. 15
- Gemmell: Back to the Future! Modern Options…Choral Performance, pp. 16-24
- Gemmell: Development of Choral Vocalises for Palestrina & Brahms, pp. 25-41
- Adams: Daily Workout for a Beautiful Voice, pp. 42-47
- Kaptein: Ten Top Conductor Essentials, pp. 48-49
- Gemmell: Music in Motion!, pp. 50-58
- Gemmell: Playful Ideas for Creative Rehearsals, pp. 59-65
- The Adolescent Changing Voice (Male), pp. 66-72
- White: Commonsense Training…Changing Male Voices, pp. 73-78
- Demorest: The Challenge of the Middle School Chorus, pp. 79-80
- Barresi: The Successful Middle School Choral Teacher, pp. 81-82
Super-sized Handout #4 (SSH4): Rehearsal Techniques #2
- Barresi: The Successful Middle School Choral Teacher (cont’d), pp. 83-86
- Williamson: Positively Adolescent, pp. 87-90
- Crocker: Choosing Music for Middle School Choir, pp. 91-95
- Keenan-Takagi: Embedding Assessment in Choral Teaching, pp. 96-101
- Reed: The Development of the Collegiate Male Ensemble, pp. 102-105
- Leck: Building Choral Musicianship: Adolsecent Boy’s Changing Voice, pp. 106-118
- Leck: Vocal Techniques for the Young Singers, pp. 119-125
- Leck: Systems of Classifications, pp. 126-129
- [Continuation of Bibliography from pp. 66-72], p. 130
- Emerson: Building a Better Choral Program, pp. 131-153
- Score Preparation Outline, pp. 154-156
- Gemmell: Experience-Analysis-Experience Activities, p. 157
- Gemmell: Choral Conducting: Less is More!, p. 158
- Gemmell: A Short List of Pieces that WORK!, pp. 159-161
- Bach, P.D.Q.: Please Kind Sir, pp. 162-163
- Smith: The Star-Spangled Banner, pp. 164-165
Diebler: One These Fine Mornin’s with Piano Accompaniment
Colorado Music Educators Association (CMEA) Presentation Handouts: Choral Conductor = Voice Teacher in Two Parts: (1) The Functional Unity Foundation and (2) It’s All About Style!
- The Functional Unity Foundation w/extended Notes, p. 1
- Why Study Singing?, p. 2
- Ware: Establishing Efficient Body Alignment, p. 2
- Healthy Breathing, Efficient Coordination, p. 3
- Phonation and Registration, pp. 3-4
- Resonance: Vowels Have Pitch!, p. 5
- Suggestions for Designing Warm-Ups, etc., p. 6
- It’s All About Style, pp. 7-9
- Resonance Vocalises, p. 10
- Choral Vocalises, p. 11
- Byrd: Non nobis, Domine, p. 12
- Vaughan Williams/Dowland: Fauxbourdon on Old 100th Psalm, p. 13
- South African Song: Somagwaza, p. 14
I.P.A. Vowel Pyramid
Practical Pointers for Leading Group Vocalises
Three Primary Options:
I. From Behind the Piano (Seated).
- Sit up straight and tall on the piano bench so that you can see (and your presence emotes) over the piano. The student must sense you’re still connected to them even though your presence may be block by a large piece of furniture.
- Be sure to provide a good vocal model in all other facets of vocal technique (breath management, phonation, resonation, etc.) and ALWAYS keep your eyes on the students. Don’t let playing the piano distract from your ability to use your body language to continue to engage the students.
- Use the piano only as an harmonic scaffolding device as necessary. Avoid playing every note of a vocalise (don’t teach them to sing with equal temperament (horizontally) or in a percussive, pianistic kind of way). Consider playing triads or, better yet, a gentle cluster of d-r-s to encourage “tuning” to the piano acoustically rather than “imitating” the “equally out-of-tunedness” that equal temperament employs.
- One option is to play the root of the chords in the left hand (linear approach to the chord progression) with triads or clusters in the right hand. Use a system that you’re comfortable with and that provides a sensitive (not over-bearing accompaniment). Consider improvising a catchy rhythmic pattern to energize the proceedings and promote an abundance of air flow.
- Speaking of air flow, be sure to breathe with your students when accompanying them and time the breath rhythmically with the key change (up or down) as you play.
- Drop the accompaniment as often as possible to promote a cantabile approach from the singers. Perhaps only play the transition of the key change to provide harmonic reference and encourage rhythmic breathing.
- Use a variety of timbres (bright, dark, medium, “world music,” etc.) and articulations (legato, staccato, martellato, messa di voce, etc.) to explore many different ways to sing to color and express musical expression. Tailor your vocalises to meet the artistic demands of the repertoire you have planned for the rehearsal.
- Consider playing with only one hand to free up the other for conducting. Show breath (downward and outward expansion) and style (nature of the travel between ictus points) to focus their attention, lead their musical efforts, and coordinate their choral instrument.
- Practice, practice, practice. Playing the piano and changing keys effortlessly is required for effective musical leadership. If you have problems and the piano holds you back, use the Tuning Fork Method.
II. From Behind the Piano (Standing).
Follow the same guidelines as outlined above, but be sure that your posture and alignment doesn’t suffer from leaning (hunching?) over the piano keyboard. Be sure to stand tall with a wide sternum and, again – this is so important, keep your eyes and face up and out to remain connected with the singers. Don’t let the piano swallow you up (steal your attention and focus). Remain student-centered!!
III. Tuning Fork Method (Preferred for Best Tuning and Most Sensitive Singing).
- The pointers listed above for piano-based leadership of vocalises apply here as well, though the teacher provides the scaffolding necessary and the students must be secure in creating the pitches necessary for the vocalises.
- The major decision that needs to be made: who provides the key change between repetitions of the vocalise? Two options: (a) Conductor sings or hums the next key (ascending or descending) as the students listen and breathe, or (b) the students move to the next key while sustaining the final note and, when the next key is established, release and take a breath before continuing with the vocalise. Both of these strategies work, though it is probably best to begin with (a) until the students can hear the key change, especially if the key will change by more than a half-step up or down.
- The lack of piano strengthens student independence and forces them to use their “inner ear” to hear the next key and listen to themselves (and the ensemble) more carefully.
- Singing a cappella, with only the tuning fork for reference, is the best way to teach students how to sing with naturally occurring acoustic tuning principles. The teacher-conductor must have a keen ear and an excellent sense of pitch as well in order to “correct” the students as necessary. The ability to “think” pitches and sing them accurately is best accomplished in this way. The conductor is also not distracted with having to play the piano, allowing them to focus fully on the choir in front of them, and using their finest conducting technique to create beautiful music together!
- This procedure helps all involved to avoid using the piano as a crutch and, instead, requires everyone to rely on their own ability to “hear” the pitches and produce them in the most sensitive way. All are responsible and accountable for the quality of the pitch without the cushion of piano scaffolding.
- Without a doubt, the conductor’s vocal model and their to ability sing in tune is critical. It is their ability to hear any faults in pitches or choral intonation and immediately (and efficiently) correct these errors. If not, inaccurate pitches and out-of-tune singing will become the “norm.”
- With this procedure, students (and teacher) must be acutely aware of all pitch-related matters; there is no help offered by the harmonic “safety net” of the piano, which has its own acoustical flaws (equal temperament). Rehearsals led with only a tuning fork may take longer and provide greater challenges, but the ability to do this provides excellent musicianship training and is well worth the extra time and effort. Ultimately, as student musicianship improves, the conductor will enjoy the benefits of the ensemble learning music more quickly, accurately and musically!