TCR029 | PODCAST – Our best choir breathing exercises

Comments on TCR029 | PODCAST – Our best choir breathing exercises

  1. Avatar Brian Smith says:

    There are two types of wrong note: somebody else’s and no one’s.

    Somebody else’s means they are being captured by another singer’s note. No one’s note means a singer is out of key.

    The latter is difficult to fix quickly and probably best not tackled in a “public” rehearsal. A quiet word is probably called for after rehearsal is over. But do remember,we all have off days when we wake up with tin ears and brass throats.

    The second can be addressed by taking the piece more slowly so singers have a chance to “hear” the note they are to sing, by getting the dominant singer to sing quietly and, if they can, after the beat, so the singer that’s being led astray gets a chance to “get in” first.

    Singing each part as melody, as a tune to be learned, helps. Removing other issues like text and rhythm from the equation, freeing the brain up to concentrate solely on pitch, also helps.

    Otherwise, move on and come back to it. Don’t let it become a “thing”.

    1. Avatar Victoria Hopkins says:

      HI Brian, thanks for those suggestions. I particularly like the idea of removing textual and rhythmic distractions to concentrate solely on pitch.

  2. Avatar Hannah says:


    Love this! It’s very helpful.
    Any chance you have these ideas written down somewhere? I can read faster than I can listen :-)


    1. Avatar Victoria Hopkins says:

      That’s a very good point Hannah. We’ll look at doing a text version in the near future.

  3. Avatar Louise says:

    Delighted I found this website. Thanks for all the advice. I teach several choirs and it’s very useful. Maybe a topic could be started on Sara’s issue, or an article done?

    1. Avatar Victoria Hopkins says:

      That’s a great idea, Louise. Thanks.

  4. Avatar Sara says:

    Really enjoyed this article, full of very informative, useful, practical advice.

    Wondered whether you might be able to advise on how to deal with wonderful, enthusiastic, but unable-to-maintain-their part singers. I attempt three part material, but it invariably ends up as two part. Should I just cave and stick to two part material? They seem to get it when I teach them separately, but fall apart when the others join in.

    Any advice? Don’t want to dampen their spirits.

    Many thanks, am enjoying all your content, finding it invaluable to have your knowledge and support.

    1. Avatar Victoria Hopkins says:

      Hi Sara. Glad you like the site. I don’t think you should give up with three part material, but I would be very selective. Are you arranging the songs yourself?

      1. Avatar Rob Cross says:

        This site is great and thank you for the informative material.

        For Sara, I’d agree with Victoria and say that you should stick with the three part material, even if it is a big challenge.
        How difficult are the arrangements? If you’re not arranging them yourself, you could try to make the arrangement a little easier.

        I’m sure you might be doing something similar but, one thing I would do is really “build it up” in the rehearsal; start with one part, make sure it is solid, add in the second part (first on their own and then with part one “humming” perhaps), get two parts solid and then continue to add the third (with part one “humming” and then part two “humming” with them) etc.
        Something like – Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 1 & 2 / Part 3 / Part 1 & 3 / Part 2 & 3 / Part 1 & 2 & 3

        However … the girls might have a different / better idea!

        Also, are you able to record their parts for them and send it to them so that they can practice at home? I’ve found this to be quite useful for some groups but it does depend on how keen they are to spend their free time on extra practice :)

        1. Avatar Victoria Hopkins says:

          Great suggestions Rob. In our contemporary choir, Christine and I have found that leading notes are critical, so when we’re arranging pop songs, we’re very conscious of where the singers are going to “get their note”, whether it’s from the accompaniment or another section, or from what they’ve just sung.

          If they’re pitching an entry from what someone else is singing, we might have them sing or hum the other part in rehearsal so that they can the idea that one part is leading into another.

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