Male Choirs R&S Standards
Creating standards for the male choir R&S area is particularly
challenging in that we represent a singing constituency that spans a
wide age range. We conduct teenage singers whose voices have just
changed, as well as mature adults, some of whom have been singing for
nearly their entire lives. But certain general standards can apply to
all men's choruses, as long as conductors make appropriate adjustments for the ages and levels of their singers.
A Schenkerian analysis of these standards might result in the simple phrase, "Sing well." We hope they can provide both guidance for the new conductor and reaffirmation for the experienced one.
- Select repertoire that is age-appropriate and suitable for the skills of the singers.
- Select repertoire representing a good variety of styles, including sacred and secular repertoire and non-western music, if appropriate, along with classics of the repertoire and new compositions to challenge both singers and conductor.
- Select repertoire with a variety of texts; if you can't pronounce the language of a piece you'd like to perform, seek out a native speaker to teach you and/or your singers the pronunciation and meaning of the text.
- Encourage composers to write music for male choir; commission or co-commission composers to write new works for your chorus.
- Communicate with publishers at conventions or online by letting them know when you value a piece they publish, or by making suggestions to improve their offerings for male choir.
- Challenge your singers with music of all levels and in different voicings to give them a richer experience.
- Seek out unusual, less familiar repertoire through research, listening and exploration.
- Have a plan to expose your singers to classics of the choral canon, providing an educational and inspirational experience.
- Teach students about appropriate performance practices for the variety of styles incorporated in your programming.
- Use authentic accompaniment whenever possible; expose your singers to possibilities beyond keyboard accompaniment.
- Select repertoire that supports the teaching of healthy vocal habits.
- Encourage memorization of some (or all, if possible and practical) repertoire during the season. Your choir and audience will notice the obvious benefits of singing from memory and this will create greater pride of ownership among the singers.
- Choral Vocal Production
- Promote healthy vocal production by modeling good habits for your singers.
- Allow and encourage healthy use of different vocal techniques for different styles of music.
- Choose repertoire that is age-appropriate to avoid development of bad vocal habits.
- Demonstrate and encourage development of fundamental skills necessary to good vocal production, including breathing, use of the upper register and proper hydration.
- If you're not a singer, seek out an expert to assist with educating your singers about good vocal health.
- Devote time in rehearsal to healthy, progressive warm-ups and teaching of vocal fundamentals.
- Work to solve register issues that are fundamental to male singers.
- Develop relationships with vocal faculty at your institution (if applicable) and make them a part of your choral program.
- Rehearsal Techniques and Instruction
- Plan rehearsals in advance for maximum effectiveness.
- Incorporate sight-singing into all rehearsals; teach more than the notes and rhythms by including expressive, musical instruction.
- Have your singers attend a master class or invite a guest conductor to run an occasional rehearsal. The guest will often reinforce the work you're doing already, but hearing it from another conductor will make an impression on your singers.
- Don't just teach the music; incorporate textual analysis, composer history and other interesting facets surrounding a piece that will help bring it to life in a fullerd richer context.
- Provide guidelines for appropriate rehearsal behavior and conductor expectations.
- Professional Growth and Development
- Stay connected to your art by attending concerts, reading journals, listening to recordings, watching other choirs on YouTube and sharing interesting information with your singers.
- Attend conventions of the ACDA and other organizations that are specifically designed for conductors of male choirs: Intercollegiate Men's Choruses, Inc. (IMC), Associated Male Choruses of America (AMCofA), The Barbershop Harmony Society and the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses (GALA).
- Attend or help to organize a male chorus festival.
- Know and comply with all copyright laws regarding printed music and recordings. Information is available on various web sites, including ACDA, MENC, ChoralNet, Harry Fox and ASCAP.
- Network with colleagues in the field whenever the opportunity presents itself.
- Recruitment & Retention
- Where appropriate, develop relationships with programs that might feed your rus to sing at a local high school, middle school or college.
- Make recordings to create a tangible history of the chorus and a source of pride for singers.
- Traveling and touring creates group cohesion and pride of ownership. If lengthy tours are impossible, short trips involving a choir exchange or collaboration can be equally effective.
- Assist feeder programs with recruitment; their success will lead to more singers for your own choir.
- Encourage collaborations with other male choirs or women's choirs as appropriate. Host a college men's choir on tour.
- Demonstrate that real men sing by bringing in a guest ensembles or taking your singers to hear other men's choruses.
- Take advantage of the popularity of a cappella groups by incorporating one or more small ensembles into your larger chorus.
- Whenever possible, take your chorus to perform out in the community to create a sense of pride for the singers and build good will with your fellow citizens.
- Audience Development & Education
- Create programs that are both educational and entertaining.
- Create recordings to help publicize your group.
- Attract potential new audience members through collaborations with non-choral artists.
- Create incentives for your singers to bring in more audience members to performances.
- Network with colleagues to learn their successful techniques for building larger audiences.
- Seek out opportunities for your chorus to perform at events where a chorus might not traditionally sing.
- Work for inclusion of music (and all arts) as core components of any educational curriculum.
- Perform whenever possible to expose more people to the choral art.
- Investigate Chorus America's study of choral singing in North America for valuable information about the benefits of choral music for singers, audiences and whole communities.
- Become an advocate for the benefits of lifelong choral singing.
- Make your singers ambassadors for the choral art through performance and their own advocacy activities.