World Choir Games Flanders 2021

What to do if you think someone in your part is singing it ‘wrong’?

  • [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]

     

    There are times when you hear someone in your part singing something different from you. Especially when you are learning a new song.

     

     

    What’s the best thing to do in this situation? Let’s look at some of the options.

    It’s happened to us all: someone in our part is singing something different from us.

    It could even be you! You might be singing something different from everybody else in your section.

    There are three possible reasons for this:

     

    1. you are singing your part incorrectly
    2. somebody else is singing your part incorrectly
    3. pretty much everyone in your part is getting it wrong!

     

    What should you do in these circumstances?

    what not to do 1: grass on your mate

    There is one obvious thing that you should not do. That is to tell that person that they’ve got it wrong. Even worse, point them out to your choir leader.

    It’s not your job to do that. Also, it may be that they’re right and you’re wrong.

    You can read more about this here: Don’t try to help your fellow singers – it’s not your job!

    what not to do 2: fit in with everyone else

    Most people are insecure when they are the odd one out.

    You might be one of a few people singing differently from everyone else in your part (or maybe the only one). It’s tempting to think that it’s you that’s wrong because you’re in the minority.

    What you will then do is sing what the others are singing, regardless of whether it’s right or not. It’s that strong urge we all have to fit in.

    But that is the wrong strategy when you don’t know who is right and who is wrong.

    what to do: ask your choir leader

    There is only one way you can find out who is singing your part correctly. You need to ask the person teaching you the song.

    It may be that you’re 100% sure that you are correct and that somebody else is wrong, so you need to phrase your question carefully.

    Ask your choir leader on your behalf: e.g. “Can you please go over that bit again. I’m not sure whether it goes up or down at that point.”

    When the person teaching you the song has clarified that bit, everybody in your section can be clear about what is right and what is wrong.

    You may be surprised to find out that it’s you who is wrong (or right) and not the other person at all. Either way, be humble, ask a simple question, and clarify it for everyone in your part.

    See also Ask questions – your choir leader (probably) won’t bite!

     

     

     

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    Chris Rowbury

    website: chrisrowbury.com
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