Workshop with Scott
I think I speak for everyone in the group when saying that our workshop with Scott Metcalfe last night was a one-of-a-kind experience. Not only was there excitement in being able to work with such an expert in an intimate setting, but he was also able to offer us loads of advice that helped us make drastic, immediate improvements in our tuning and musical artistry.
We began the night as we usually do, with Rob leading us in warm-ups. However, right from the start, one was getting the distinct impression that our tuning and use of piano in the warmups was driving Scott closer to hari-kiri by the second. After eliminating the piano and using our ears (yes, ears and not any other part of your body) to listen to each other, we realized how out of tune we were. We finished the warmups on a high note (not literally) by singing a good chord or two in tune.
After warmups, we jumped right into the Kyrie from Victoria’s Officium Defunctorum a 6. After doing a rough run through, Scott began to offer us some advice. Here are some of the key points he made:
- Focus less on the consonants and more on the vowels (aka, not as much “K” on the word Kyrie, sorry Rob). Sing as if you were speaking the text. Don’t distort the vowels.
- At leaps, “slide” quickly up or down to the note as to not interrupt the music, instead of “jumping” from one note to the next.
- Give each note life. Let notes grow or decay (crescendo, decrescendo, etc) to make the performance more interesting.
- Start each section on a well tuned chord (I mean a WELL tuned chord, not a chord as in on the piano, which is tuned differently than human voices).
- The tonal system was different “back in the day”. Therefore, it’s a good idea to sing the piece up a half step (as we had secretly been doing…).
In addition, Scott provided a good amount of individual feedback for members of the group. This workshop was an invaluable experience not only for each individual of the group, but for group as a whole. His advice will undoubtedly have a lasting, positive impact on our group’s success.