Doing another visit to a choir premiering a commission I wrote for them- I just feel more and more that the key to a great performance is memorizing the darned music!
At the last few clinicians gigs I have done or visits to choirs about to premiere a commission I have written for them I simply get to the point where I just tell them.. put down your scores and just sing! The INSTANT they do this they are watching their conductor better(most of these choirs I have visited recently really do love their directors), hearing other parts better, hearing vowels better and thus tuning better, matching rhythms better,you name it. EVERYTHING is better without the score distracting from the actual music. And we all need to constantly remind ourselves and each other that a score is not music, right?
So the next point of my rant is that everyone should be doing their concerts from memory- everyone. Or at least, do some of the concert pieces from memory, and this should even include community choirs, who often give their aging brains as an excuse for not even attempting to memorize anything. From what I have read lately, working the brain harder by memorizing music would be very beneficial for the health of those "aging brains".
Memorized pieces will always come off better with an audience for so many reasons, and really do force the weaker singers to do their work. They can no longer hide behind the score and fake things. The message is sent that 1) we are serious about our work 2) let's let our audiences notice this as well when they see us singing from memory. A choir memorizing music will always be capable of far better performances and hopefully be more inspiring to listen to and watch.
I recall a choir at the recent ACDA convention in Oklahoma City. Most choirs sing from memory at important events like this and are very prepared with their performances. In addition, they only have time allotted to sing about a half-program anyway. Yet, there was a community choir from the Southeast who read from their scores for their entire performances, and were pretty much buried in their scores. Their results were atrocious and they did not belong at the convention. It was pathetic to see how under-prepared this choir was, but the bottom line blame has to go to their director- he allowed it to happen. If these singers had been made to memorize their music, there would have been no way that they could have slid through in such an underprepared way- I am certain of this.
And besides, isn't it a joy to hear people singing beautifully, and isn't it glorious to see the shining faces of an entire choir opened up to their director and the audience as they do so- without their faces buried in a score? I rest my case.
To the readers
5 years ago