• Solveig Holmquist

Proper tuning is crucial from the start

Well, aren't you just the smartest bunch of singers? When I announced at the beginning of rehearsal that we were going to learn the second movement a cappella, with Ann only providing the interlude material, you didn't blink an eye, gasp, or throw up on the floor! You just accepted the challenge, and it turned out to be really fun. Though that portion of the mass isn't horribly difficult, Schubert can throw you for some curves, and you negotiated those in good humor. May I confess to being surprised? I know that our skills are growing, because not too many years ago the choir couldn't (wouldn't?) have attempted more than a few measures on its own. So prepare to have the safety net removed again from time to time, to help us grow our skills.

No doubt you also noticed that I was on you, sopranos and altos, about pitch, despite the fact that you were having to concentrate hard on reading. Faced with myriad new details as we read, we have to concede that in the early stages of mastering a work, singers can't realistically focus on more than one aspect at a time. We have to let some things slide for a while. Our brains just can't do it all at once. (Example: not even noticing there are dynamic markings!)

But there's one exception. In the case of intonation, I simply can't wait for you to know the music well before I call attention to tuning issues: letting pitch go for weeks and then trying to correct things is a recipe for disaster. Right from the start we must get into the habit of recognizing both the sound and the physical sensations of proper tuning. There's a great phrase that the English use in connection with child rearing: "Start as you mean to go on." We have to adopt that attitude, too. I won't apologize for this plan. Nobody wants to sing in a choir with pitch issues. And there are far more sopranos and altos than tenors and basses, so it's bigger job. Hang on and be patient; it'll be my honor and privilege to help us sound as glorious as possible!

Next Tuesday we will begin with S/A and T/B sectionals, as we encounter Cum Sancto Spiritu, the big fugue which concludes the Gloria movement. It's LONG, from p.25 - p.35! Fugues, with their overlapping phases, are particularly confusing to learn, so breaking into two groups will help the process. Tenors and basses, look for the sign telling you where to go when you arrive. We'll keep the largest two sections in the gym. The good news? There are only seven words!

In this cold and flu season, please find as many ways to stay healthy. This would not be a good rehearsal to miss!

See you on Tuesday,

Solveig

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