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Choir and the art of singing well – Part 1


Singing is an art, and so, every art must be perfected through practice. In other words, it is possible for one to sing well. On the lane of singing well, the following points must be considered.

• Ear Training: This is simply training the ear to readily recognise musical pitches, intervals, rhythm and how to write them down. Ear Training, also known as aural training (aural perception), is the developing of that acute sensitivity and perception essential to a competent musician (a chorister, choirmaster, conductor, etc.). The ear and brain must be trained to register, analyse and relate musical sounds as accurately as the eye and brain perceive visual images. A singer should be able to hear what sound he makes. Mentally ‘hearing’ the sound is very crucial – ‘hear’ it in your mind. Some singers have been described as being “tone deaf” because they produce sounds alright, but do not hear themselves inwardly, which accounts for some people singing off the right key in some cases. This (tone deafness) leads to intonation problems. One of the main causes of singing out of tune is an under-developed pitch sense – a poor musical ear. To come out of this, develop a sense of precise pitch. Listen hard/critically to the pitch of the notes; hear the exact pitch of any note in your ‘mind’s ear’ before singing it; gradually you will develop an acute sense of pitch and cure the fault.


• Voice Training: This is an innovative technique that aids in the systematic and controlled development of singing skill. The dictionary of music defines voice as (i) another term for voice part, and (ii) a general term for the human apparatus that produces musical sounds (singing). Actually, singing involves a number of parts of the body, including the larynx, the lungs and other areas involved in breathing, the lips, tongue, nose and various portions of the throat. Voices are usually classified according to their range, that is, the highest and lowest pitches they can produce accurately. Voice is an indispensable factor as long as singing is concerned.

Voices, which are naturally perfect and require no training at all, are comparatively rare. Even the claimed ‘naturally perfect voices’ still need some kind of training; no voice completely scores 100 percent. Voice training results in better voice production. A trained voice should be smooth and pleasant, not coarse, rough, or raspy. It should have a “ringing” tone, which makes it not boring to the ear. The sound produced by the vocal cords should be so amplified by the resonators (the holes and spaces in the chest, throat, and head including mouth and nose) that it eventually comes out with some reasonable power and consonance, with sufficient upper partials to reach the eardrums of a listener some reasonable distance away. This sound should be so shaped by the organs of articulation that words formed are meaningfully conveyed to the listener. The voice itself, is a musical instrument, but with an additional power of framing words and allying them with its tones. The voice, therefore, is both a tone-producing instrument and a word-producing instrument. The Voice is a wind instrument and you need breath to play it. In summary, the voice is a tone-producing instrument, a word-producing instrument, and a wind instrument.

Very Rev. Dr. Isaac Udoh (KCW, JP), Conference Music Coordinator, Methodist Church Nigeria/a Knight of Charles Wesley, and a Presbyter in Methodist Church Nigeria presiding English Service at Groves Memorial Methodist Cathedral, Ikot Ekpene, Ikot Ekpene Diocese. Currently, Head, Department of Music, University of Uyo, Uyo. 08037800907

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Dr. Isaac Udoh
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