Choir Coaching
Help for Musical Directors

There is a one particular sound, a true, resonant ring that is an elusive quality in choral singing and it takes a special group of people to sing in a way that is truly unified and resonant. This is the sound that lights up an audience with the sheer quality of the singing. Tuning, timing, articulation and vowel shape all play a vital part in creating it.

Many choir singers have had little or no vocal training. Singers often come to choir with snippets of information about breathing and vocal projection that are at best, confusing for them and often, woefully inaccurate. It can make singing jolly hard work for them – often leaving them hoarse and certainly making them feel like they aren’t singing their best. Choir coaching helps your singers by getting them to use the same techniques as each other, thereby creating a unified and cohesive sound.

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Understanding Vocal techniques

Sandra teaches with a full knowledge of the physical and vocal anatomy that is needed to provide a safe technical base see safe singing practices. Giving a thorough, practical and anatomically correct explanation can be amazingly liberating for many singers who find they have misunderstood concepts of vocal technique and breathing. When choir coaching, Sandra is very happy to explain any other issues that your singers need to understand in order to get the big picture!

If you are on this page you are probably looking for answers of how to improve your choir! Please do feel free to talk to Sandra about your specific requirements. Whatever your choirs style of singing, whether it be barbershop chorus, community choir, world music or folk choir, the singing and breathing techniques that Sandra teaches can bring out the best in your singers and your style of music, by enhancing its essential quality and character.

Does your choir have key problems with:

  • Tuning of chords
  • Holding pitch through song
  • Flagging vocal energy mid song
  • Lack of expression and vitality in performance

 

It does take time for a singer to change their habits, as all MD’s know – but giving your singers the best possible foundation, enables them to gain confidence in how they sing and the quality they can produce.

The 2 fundamentals to establish for your singers that will support everything they need to do are:

  • Breath control
  • Forward Placement of the voice

Building a good breathing foundation

If the key problem points listed above are an issue for your singers, then Sandra can start with a solid, good breathing foundation. Without good breath control underpinning a singer, they struggle to hold pitch, control phrasing or maintain vocal energy. Without vocal energy you will probably be also struggling to produce an expressive performance. When singers can feel the effort in their singing, they worry. When they worry, they aren’t projecting out but are inwardly awkward and overly aware of the strain.

Learning and understanding what ‘good breathing’ really is and how to maintain it, can improve your choirs tone colour, agility, range and projection. It will also help them control nerves in performance and help them stay relaxed and energised in rehearsal.

Establishing a free flowing breath will then enable the throat to open and the placing of the voice to fall forward. Forward placement of the voice creates a warm, full tone and greatly enhances projection and power in your singing. If your singers are having trouble blending and you experience voices jutting through the mix, then getting placement right can make a huge difference. Correct placing also helps a singer move through her/his range easily so the overall tonal phrasing is improved as there is no strain and the singers ranges extend. Placement can also help with fine tuning as more of the note rings producing more lock in the chords.

What is a good vocal warm-up?

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Sandra can fully explain, demonstrate and instruct your singers in how to improve the two key points of breathing and placement and help devise a warm-up that will support the learning of the techniques.

Building an effective warm-up

A good warm-up routine can:-

  • Prepare and guide your singers from their work day mind into a creative singing frame
  • Greatly enhance your productivity in rehearsal by preparing the singers for the techniques needed in the song
  • Deepen vocal and breathing skills for your chorus so that the overall standard of your choir rises
  • Create a cohesive group ready to concentrate and work well together.

 

Sandra can devise a solid warm-up for your choir incorporating:-

  • Physical exercises – strengthening posture and presentation
  • Breathing techniques – diaphragmatic exercises and breath support and flow
  • Vocal techniques that can support and develop your singers.
  • Exercises to work with tuning, blend, vocal energy.

 

By clearly explaining the focus and function of each exercise you will feel confident to use the exercises with your choir or chorus as you will understand the purpose of the exercises and what results to expect.

Most amateur choirs need to keep their skills practiced in each session. If certain exercises or skills aren’t used for a while, expect to remind your singers! The more you repeat it, the more it will go in. Building these skills into every rehearsal via your warm-up routine will instill good practice into your singers and help them create the warm vibrant sound that you want to hear.

If needed, Sandra’s choir coaching can also help with your overall rehearsal structure and strategy. Each group or choir is likely to have different coaching needs, as well as different time-scales and resources available – therefore talk to Sandra about what you need.


Sandra is a member of the British Voice Association (BVA) and is a member at large of LABBS. She has completed the LABBS Judges foundation course and regularly attends Barbershop training days. She is also a member of Sing A cappella and The Natural Practitioners Network

Sandra is always available for choir coaching. (She loves it!) She can run evening sessions, longer 5/6 week courses and all day sessions for your choir.

Check out the singing workshops page too for classes you can go to as an individual.