Musicianship & Curriculum

Music theory skills are taught at every regular rehearsal, and reinforced by individual work at home on assigned theory workbooks. This emphasis helps to provide a unique choral music education experience that produces well-rounded young musicians and choral singers.

Sandy Felstein’s Practical Theory, a combination text and workbook in three volumes, will be assigned and provided to each chorister at the beginning of each season as part of tuition. Choristers are expected to bring the workbook to rehearsal in addition to their regular music binder. Singers in Levels 1 and 2 will be usually working on Volume 1, and singers in Level 3 on Volumes 1 or 2, and singers in Level 4 on Volumes 2 or 3.

 

VOCAL CURRICULUM

Vocal technique appropriate for each age/level is imparted at regular rehearsals. Our conducting staff is well trained in the area of vocal technique specific to young voices, and invested in the vocal development of our choristers. Private vocal instruction is encouraged only starting at 14-15 years of age, and the chorus office staff can provide voice teacher referrals.

BREATHING

1) Posture: to develop proper posture for singing through exercises involving physical conditioning, active body positioning, and mental alertness.

2) Breath: to develop the cycle of inhalation-exhalation through exercises involving active use of the major breathing muscles.

3) Breath support: to develop the coordination to create an energized air column and control of the exhaled breath when applied to vocal production.

PHONATION

1) Registration: to develop a healthily-produced lower voice, a free upper voice, and a gradually sophisticated blending of both.

2) Freedom: to develop the technique of singing with an open throat, with vertical mouth opening, unhinged jaw (down and back), and relaxed and forward tongue.

RESONANCE

1) Resonance: to develop techniques of enhancement of vocal resonance, including spatial awareness, focus, and projection of the voice.

2) Uniform vowel colors: to develop the five Latin vowels as the basis of true legato singing.

Musicianship & Vocal Curriculum

LEVEL 1 MUSICIANSHIP GOALS

Learn all treble clef note names

Learn all solfège hand signs

Learn to sing a major scale with solfège hand signs in the key of C major

Begin to recognize basic rhythmic values

Develop beginning sight-singing skills (step-wise melodies based on the scale of C major)

LEVEL 1 VOCAL TRAINING GOALS

Align and prepare the body as an instrument for singing.

Demonstrate a natural breathing motion for singing

Apply the breath to vocal production (basic coordination).

Demonstrate the beginning of a free head voice production.

Correctly form and sing the [u] vowel with slightly flared lips and relaxed jaw.

LEVEL 2 MUSICIANSHIP GOALS

Master skills covered in previous Level

Master treble clef note names, and introduce bass clef note names

Learn to sing major scales with solfège hand signs in keys C, F & G major

Master basic rhythmic values and patterns, and introduce simple and compound meter

Introduce basic musical symbols

Introduce interval training

Introduce key signatures (order of sharps and flats)

Continue to develop basic sight-singing skills

Be able to hold part independently in two-part music

LEVEL 2 VOCAL TRAINING GOALS

Align and prepare the body as an instrument for singing: feet planted on the floor, unlocked knees, stretched spine, sternum comfortably high, shoulders relaxed, relaxed neck and forehead, hands down at the sides.

Demonstrate a natural breathing motion as mentioned above, plus the beginning of breath “support”.

Demonstrate the beginning of a smooth transition between “head” voice and “chest” voice.

Correctly form and sing the five Latin vowels.

LEVEL 3 MUSICIANSHIP GOALS

Master skills covered in previous Level

Learn to sing all major and natural minor minor scales with solfège hand signs

Recognize aural and written scales: major, natural minor, harmonic minor, melodic minor, whole-tone, pentatonic, chromatic

Introduce more complex rhythmic values, including ties and syncopation

Reinforce basic musical symbols

Recognize aural and written diatonic intervals

Reinforce key signatures (including relative minor keys)

Distinguish between major and minor triads

Continue to develop sight-singing skills, with an emphasis on coordinating rhythmic and melodic elements

Be able to hold part independently in three-part music

LEVEL 3 VOCAL TRAINING GOALS

Align and prepare the body as an instrument for singing, allowing for further freedom of movement in response to the music.

Demonstrate increased coordination of the breathing motion, including a fast-paced inhalation-exhalation cycle.

Demonstrate increased awareness of breath support and begin sustaining longer phrases.

Sing with increased resonance and support throughout the vocal range.

Correctly form and sing the five Latin vowels, and also diphthong combinations with attention to primary and vanishing vowels.

LEVEL 4 MUSICIANSHIP GOALS

Master skills covered in previous Level

Master singing all major and minor scales with solfège hand signs, and develop the ability to sing a chromatic scale

Count simple and compound rhythms

Master more complex rhythmic values, understand more complex/mixed meters

Master all musical symbols

Recognize all intervals

Begin to understand chordal structures and harmonic motion

Develop more advanced sight-reading skills

Be able to hold part and sight-sing proficiently in multiple-part music

LEVEL 4 VOCAL TRAINING GOALS

Align and prepare the body as an instrument for singing for both sitting and standing positions, and with increased freedom of expression.

Demonstrate a deep-breathing motion.

Demonstrate increased awareness of breath support and control of the breath stream as a continuous flow of air.

Sing with increasingly balanced resonance and support throughout a gradually increasing vocal range.

Demonstrate correct mouth opening (vertical), jaw (unhinged), and tongue (relaxed and forward) positions while singing the five Latin vowels.

 

HONORS ENSEMBLE VOCAL TRAINING GOALS

Align and prepare the body as an instrument for singing, and with increased awareness of choral performance as an art of communication.

Demonstrate consistent awareness of deep-breathing motion needed for singing.

Demonstrate increased awareness of breath support as the beginning of a true legato line, allowing the presence of vibrato as an outcome of freedom of production.

Demonstrate an extended vocal range, developing agility and sustained singing.

Demonstrate the skill of a correct vocal attack.

Demonstrate the beginning of the skill of performing a “messa di voce”.

Sing with a consistently open, unconstricted throat, unhinged jaw (back and down), and relaxed and forward tongue throughout the range.