Balancing choral sounds through repetition will not only help your group to obtain the desired audio result, it will also foster an environment of working together. What other class in school requires listening to everyone else--at the same time?! Music education is undoubtedly the definition of teamwork at its best because it takes all the participants to achieve the right sound. And this right sound is achieved by balancing.
To begin, it is always important to explain to your choirs the value of balancing sound and that it does not mean that all parts should be equally as loud. A great saying to explain this concept is, "while all parts are equally important, they are not all the same." Sometimes certain notes need to stand out more and some need to hang out in the background. Learning which and when is key.
Here are some examples:
- Minor/major 7 th 's and minor/major 3 rd 's color the structure of most chords. If they are not prominent in the chord, the sound will lack direction (movement or finality, dark or bright). These tones in a chord need to be out front just a bit more.
- Movement or passing tones always take precedent over sustained parts. It is helpful to explain the difference in balancing the choir compared to hearing the same tones on the piano. One is constant and fixed (piano) while the other is fluid and flexible (choir).
- The last point to cover is the importance of being able to hear the melody of the song at ALL times. If it gets buried or lost, the listener gets frustrated, loses interest and the effectiveness of the piece suffers. If the choir does not know who has the melody, something is very wrong.
The Concept of Balancing
Even the most musically challenged person will appreciate a balanced sound. There is something so natural about having the right mix of parts and the degree to which they are audibly pronounced.
It is amazing how young choir members understand these concepts straight away. The challenge of course is to have them follow through and do something about it. Sometimes recording the group is the best way for them to understand how they are projecting their voices and where the balancing needs attention.
These concepts may seem a bit advanced, but at some level, students do understand them. With consistent practice, they will develop into much more sensitive listeners and performers.