Voice Lessons in the Choral Classroom

by Jen Sper, School Choral Specialist

In many middle school and high school situations, the choral director is the only voice teacher most students will have – what a responsibility! And, what a worthwhile pursuit! Proper vocal technique opens up your choir to a much greater variety of literature, more expressive, sensitive singing, and a more satisfying experience for everyone in the room.

A varied set of warm-up exercises is of course your first step in developing vocal technique in your choir, but today I want to share some repertoire choices that can reinforce these skills.

Litanei (D. 343) by Franz Schubert/arr. John Leavitt
Schubert’s famous art song has been adapted for use with unison chorus accompanied by keyboard or the optional strings, creating an excellent opportunity to develop vocal tone, expression and diction. Perfect for treble, men’s or mixed voices.

Die Forelle by Franz Schubert/arr. D. Jason Bishop
The famous art song by Franz Schubert has been arranged for 3-part treble voices and tells of a casual observer admiring the movements of a frisky fish as it darts below the surface. The tone of the music changes when, to the observer’s horror, a fisherman puts an end to both his and the trout’s merriment by snagging the fish on his hook and reeling him in.

Gretchen am Spinnrade by Franz Schubert/arr. D. Jason Bishop
In this, one of Schubert’s first and most successful art songs, Gretchen reflects on her sudden infatuation with Faust. The piano accompaniment, with its relentless sixteenth notes in the right hand, depicts both Gretchen’s accumulating madness and the perpetual motion of the spinning wheel.

Svegliatevi nel core by G.F. Handel/arr. Brandon Williams
Translating to English “Awaken My Heart,” this da capo aria from Handel’s opera Giulio Cesare has been arranged for SSA voices for a delightful choral showcase. With options for drama and expression, choirs will enjoy the opportunity to experience this work of the Baroque era.

Singing these songs with your choir is a great opportunity to introduce young musicians to art song literature, and the wonderful marriage of music and text contained therein. For more concert suggestions for your ensemble, please contact us.

About the Author:
Jen Sper has been with Stanton’s since 2006. A former middle school and high school choral director, she holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Baldwin Wallace College Conservatory of Music. An active choral singer and accompanist throughout the Central Ohio area, she also enjoys good food, running (to counteract the good food…) and the Muppets.

Categories: Music Education, New Publications, School Choral, Staff Picks

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