World Choir Games Flanders 2023

Why are some ‘easy’ songs hard (and vice versa)? - answers please!

  • [The views expressed in this blog are from my personal experiences from 25 years of leading non-auditioned community choirs in the UK, as well as adult singing workshops. My focus is on teaching by ear using a repertoire of songs from traditions across the globe. Your experiences may differ from mine, so do feel free to leave a comment and let's begin a conversation! A version of this article first appeared as a post on my blog From the Front of the Choir]

     

    Sometimes I start a singing session off with what I consider to be an easy song.

     

    photo from Wellcome Images

     

    But the group end up struggling and it turns out to be really hard! What’s going on here?

    I’m sure many choir leaders have found this: you plan to start off with an easy song, but it soon becomes clear that your choir are finding it much more difficult than you thought.

    The opposite is also true. I’ve often thought a song would take ages to learn and the singers would struggle. But they learn it really quickly and it turns out to be much easier than I’d thought.

    What’s going on here? Are we choir leaders just bad judges of material?

    I really don’t know the answer (which is why I’m writing this post!).

    There are times, of course, when we over- or under-estimate the abilities of our singers. This is especially true if it’s a new group and we haven’t got to know them yet.

    Another issue is that we may find something quite easy because we’re musically more experienced than most of our singers. Or we’re more familiar with the Georgian harmonies. Or our sense of rhythm is more finely honed. We sometimes forget that the singers will be hearing the song for the first time and the timing or harmonies might feel unfamiliar.

    Structure can also be a problem. I find it easy to internalise the structure of a song, but many singers need loads of repetition before the structure becomes apparent.

    Familiarity with material can change over time. When I first teach a song, it usually takes quite a while and singers can often struggle. But when I’ve taught the song many times, the teaching (and learning of it) become much faster and easier.

    Finally, let me ask you: have you had the experience of finding a song much easier (or harder) than expected? What factors do you think come into play?

    I’d love to hear your ideas. Do drop by and leave a comment. Thanks.

     

     

     

     

    To get more posts like this delivered straight to your inbox,
    click to subscribe by email.

     

    Chris Rowbury

    website: chrisrowbury.com
    blog: blog.chrisrowbury.com
    Facebook: Facebook.com/ChrisRowbury
    Twitter: Twitter.com/ChrisRowbury
    Monthly Music Roundup: Tinyletter.com/ChrisRowbury
    YouTube: YouTube.com/ChrisRowbury

322 views - 0 comments - Post Comment
Facebook comments