It’s important to explain to your choir the importance of a balanced sound. I always told my kids, "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.
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. I also explained 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 I usually 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.
It always amazed me how young choir members understood these concepts when I pointed them out. The challenge of course is to have them follow through and do something about it!
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.