Monday, September 29, 2014

Young female singers are called "mousy'? Ugh!

Here is a quick post on something that was stewing a bit on Choralnet a few months ago (I wrote some of this then but forgot to post the blog!) and which I was compelled to finally respond to: this was a Choralnet post wherein a male director called his adolescent young women singers "mousy and timid". Great attitude, right? Someone called him on this language immediately, but no one had offered up any significant tools to get his mind straight on this and simply be a more skilled, more understanding choral/vocal instructor- so I finally posted the following to the thread:

I have been reading this thread for awhile, and every time I see the title, the "mousy" name-calling still galls me. Men need to try a lot harder to fathom what it is like to be a female singer at any age (but especially in the adolescent and pre-adolescent years) and be more empathetic. I think I can preach here to my fellow XY dudes since I have successfully directed a professional women's choir for 6 years, directed special summer programs for gifted SSAA singers, composed dozens of works for SA through SSAA choirs, worked directly (again with my composer hat on) with skilled directors of female choirs such as Emily Ellsworth, Janet Galvan, Lynne Gackle, Nancy Menk, and Robyn Lana just to mention a few. Please guys, become more sensitive, and here is what I REALLY want you to do to educate yourself a lot more, and have way more tools for success with your choirs:

Purchase the book "Finding Ophelia's Voice, Opening Ophelia's Heart"  by Lynne Gackle. It is full of brilliant insights into the female adolescent voice and psyche. This is required reading. The other required reading is "Conducting Women's Choirs", edited and compiled by Debra Spurgeon. There are chapters on an amazing breadth of topics by many great contributors (essentially a who's-who of the women's choir movement over the last 25 years- but especially for this subject please read the sections by Sandra Snow and Sandra Peter) which are invaluable resources for anyone who directs women either in an SSAA type ensemble or within an SATB ensemble. The Spurgeon book also contains Lori Hetzel's U of Kentucky choir in a DVD demo of all sorts of important vocal issues, plus vocalise/warmup issues. Buy these two books and sit down with them for a week or two. They are both worth it to anyone in our profession. And let's drop the term "mousy", please!

Lynne Gackle's book, published by Heritage/Lorenz:

Debra Spurgeon

Deb Spurgeon's book, published by GIA:

Paul Carey
You can see the Choralnet complete thread here:

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