Why choir vocal training?
Written by Csaba Tőri
8 October 2019
I remember, it was a big task to find the right name. In retrospect, it is surprising how many things the name wants to refer to – and how many things it is trying to draw attention to.
We received many comments in the first few weeks: “Such a thing does not exist,” “Who are they who think that a choir should sing differently?”, “If it’s only for choirs, then it’s not right for the individual who wants to learn to sing,” etc. I started thinking about it.
At first, I began to believe it, because practicably the human voice is one and indivisible, its characteristics are given – one cannot really distinguish methods in this.
What finally convinced me the most was when a few of our students completed the 10-week-training and indicated that they would be happy to continue. We had to think about the direction we should develop them further.
Perhaps the most important thing is that we believe in it: everyone will learn as much as they like. It is an illusion that because the teacher’s motivating them, you’ll reach a higher level then you’ve expected.
That is why we offer 10-week courses – ending with a meaningful conclusion: we have discussed, practiced together, the tools that will guide us in the long run – in most cases, they prevent the development of bad inclusions or help to overcome the inconveniences.
The basic principle of all ImPulse programs is that we want to overcome even the appearance of obligation. Simply because it kills motivation. It does not take months or years, a few hours are enough: what you have to do is instantly discouraged, while looking at the same thing as an option – where you get to decide to do it or not – gives you a much greater sense of accomplishment.
However, since our training lacks the formality of what we need to do officially, we somehow want to make sure that there is a purpose in our learning, for what we work together.
There is a famous experiment in which researchers went to some elementary schools to see what decides which child will be a successful, great person. To do this, they completed a test with each of the children and took the tests for evaluation. When they returned the told the results to the teachers and who are the kids to pay attention to more – because they will become great people.
What’s interesting about the experiment, though, is that they didn’t even look at the tests, they randomly selected the kids and named them as the best of the class – which included presumably better and worse students.
A few years later, in the second phase of the experiment, they looked at how much the “promising” and “less promising” children had changed from the previous visit. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it turned out that children, who were looked at as kids with a great future and many opportunities, outnumbered the development of the “others.”
We didn’t know exactly how different their upbringing was, but one thing was certain: the ones who were trusted by the teachers developed much faster than the ones who weren’t. However, the test itself had no influence on what to think of its filler.
The role of the goal
One of the most important tools of pedagogy is positive suggestion. If we set a goal together and communicate to the student that we believe in the goal, then he / she will believe in it.
If there is no common goal, only the desire to sing, the result is much slower. (Just think, what if we didn’t tell the GPS where we wanted to go, just to go. How much less of a chance would be of us returning home?)
It’s long a difficult for sure
By precisely defining your goal and breaking it down into small steps, you can achieve much less time to reach each level. Many people think that it takes a long time – or a lot of work – to learn to sing.
Of course, to some extent this is also true: climbing also requires time. At the same time, not everyone desires the heights of the Mount Everest, personally I climb Mount-John the most. When it comes to singing techniques, everyone expects that if one learns to sing, he / she will do it “normally” until he / she becomes a “normal” singer.
There are two problems with this: many do not have the courage to start, and if they start, when they necessarily quit (since not everyone can be a singer, it’d be terrible), the initial goal is often not achieved yet, so the person is disappointed. And what was once one of the most off-putting, enthusiastic goals of the person’s life was no longer such an experience.
Being an amateur is liberating
We have many concerts behind us, many students in the choir who’ve had great experiences and given to others. The trick is simply that there was a goal that motivated us and then, after reaching that goal, we left with satisfaction: it was worth doing it. No one would have thought that 3 men who did little or nothing of classical singing before, could sing the famous sculpture scene of Don Giovanni. But they wanted to, and so they learned – certainly not perfect, but with a long applause.
So, as an amateur you don’t have to meet professional standards individually – yet the performance can be amazingly high. On one hand, because the credibility and the intention will come through the performance and on the other hand, because a well-set goal can be achieved in the foreseeable future.
What is less, what is more?
It matters a lot to know how the thinking of a non- professional person works. We don’t talk about a lot of singing issues, but there are ways to bring them along – bypass.
Singing is, after all, a business where much depends on imagination. Mostly because we use a lot of muscles that cannot be moved voluntarily – they can be triggered by imagination, emotion, or other voluntary muscles.
Many times, one of these 10-week-courses is enough to pass on a lot of knowledge and create initial success experiences. Practicing is the decision of the individual: finding a new purpose, looking for a music community where the person can develop his/herself, practicing individually – whatever the person really likes.
Can someone be a soloist?
Experience has shown that up to 60% of those who have studied with us have been able to play solo roles with certainty. Most of the time, the audience was impressed, and they returned home with sincere satisfaction.
Of course, it takes more than a few years to get someone to the Hungarian State Opera House: a few years and better and better teachers who know that part of the journey.
However, anyone who wants to get started, or has had experience for several years, and is considering taking the topic seriously, we are happy to help and give you two more bonus points: we’ll help you discuss the purpose of the first period, and then give you a place in your life where you can come back anytime for help – or even where you can enjoy the next few years. Even if you are not perfect right away :)
Take it into consideration what we can do to help – you can find a solution here: