Joining a choir is a great way to meet new friends and do something which is not only rewarding but also beneficial for your mind and body. But singing as part of a choir takes practice. Obviously you need to learn the music, know your notes and the words, be aware of the dynamics and tell the story, listen to the piano part and of course follow the conductor; but more than all that, singing in a choir requires you to become part of that choir. This doesn’t mean just singing your part, it means blending your voice with the others’ singing it and making sure this fits with the other parts around you.
You are not trying to out sing anyone; not trying to be louder so that you are heard in the crowd. Being part of a choir is about supporting each other and allowing the music to live. We are often stopped during rehearsal and asked “Who has the melody?” which seems a ridiculous question, but this is really a question of balance. If the song is just a simple melody sung by one voice then the answer is ME! But if you are in a 3 or 4 part choir, the probability is that it will not be you, at least not all the time. You need to listen and always be aware of who has the tune. Therefore MY part is to support the others, add the harmony and the beauty to the song but not to detract by singing too loud.
If you have a solo part within a song, you’ll need a different voice. Now the focus is totally on you. You need to own this, sing confidently and tell the story. Enjoy it, and the audience will also enjoy it!
A great choir is together. As with any good relationship this doesn’t mean doing exactly the same all the time. It means supporting and complementing each other. Listening and responding appropriately. So this is what we are learning to do. Perhaps this is why singing with the choir is like being part of a family. We are friends, working hard together to achieve something special, and just for a while get away from the pressures and constraints of our own lives.
About the author: Shelly Warde sings Soprano 2 in the Pewsey Belles