repertoire selection

I’m starting a new job next week, teaching muscianship and conducting the choirs for an El Sistema style music program in Waterbury, CT.  It was recommended to me that I watch the school’s video of the kids singing:

I was told by the person who recommended I watch this video that “it could be better,” but this is “kind of their theme song.”

It’s not going to be their theme song any more, because I believe that repertoire selection is the primary means through which good teaching occurs.  And this is not an example of good repertoire.

First, the range is too low, especially in the verse.  I can hear the relief in their vocal folds when the refrain goes higher, but they sort of shout and push and whine their way into the middle of their voices.    I suspect this is in imitation of a vocal model from a recording online that you can find if you search for it.  I’m not going to post it here.  They’re going to learn the phrase “head voice” on Day 1.

It’s syllabic and wordy, written to accommodate text but without a singable melody.  There’s no tune.  There’s no shapely, driving direction in the rhythm or pitches.  It’s even repetitive without being catchy.

But here’s the hope: I see how obedient they’re being in the video, how accurately they reproduce the trite, boring song; and it makes me think they’re capable of a great deal, and they deserve much more.

We’re gonna sing fun, tuneful, diverse repertoire that will encourage more direct and immediate emotional connection.  We’re gonna sing music in appropriate vocal ranges so they learn to navigate their full ranges and sing with warm, resonant, spacious tone.


If you’ll excuse me now, I’ve got to go put my money where my blog is.

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