(from Dundalk Md Charivari, Tom Wheatley, editor)
[Freddie has agreed to share some of his coaching tips with us. The article below is the beginning of a series of sections dealing with singing in tune. Although the presentation was written from the standpoint of coaching, we should be able to apply it to ourselves, thus, in effect, becoming our own coaches.]
Perhaps one of the biggest problems faced by coaches is the quartet or chorus which continually or even occasionally sings out of tune. It is interesting to note that Brahms gave up directing a choral group of ladies in Hamburg, Germany, because they could not stay on pitch. This article will not attempt to deal with sharp singing. Even though sharp singing is an occasional problem, the overwhelming preponderance of tuning problems has to do with flatting.
Actually, there are two kinds of flatting problems. The first is where the voice parts stay in tune with each other, but the entire quartet or chorus flats uniformly from the starting pitch. The second is where the voice parts sing out of tune with one another as well as flatting the given pitch. What are some of the reasons singers tend to sing flat, and what can the coach do about them?
First of all, many singers fail to start on pitch. This is due to lack of attention. Each singer must learn to hear the correct pitch before he attempts to sing it. It is very important for the singers to learn to listen to each other. The greatest degree of pitch accuracy occurs when a singer develops a concept of the way his voice sounds to others, because it is then possible to tell when he is singing out of tune.
Once the quartet starts on pitch, insist that each member energize himself. Listless body attitudes will cause flatting. Correct posture is essential, but not enough. There is a vast difference between erect and alert. The singers must have a good mental attitude and look happy in order to sing in tune. If the quartet consistently flats, try raising the pitch one-half step or even a whole step. The added energy required to produce their voices may keep them on pitch.
To Chapter Two