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Author's note: The following remarks are edited from a keynote

address given at the 2008 ACDA Western Division Convention in


Anaheim, California.

^ ^ ^ t is wonderful to be back in Southern California


^ m where, many years ago, my career as a choral
M conductor began. Those days were rich and
^^^ wonderful. It was nay good fortune to be in this
region when Charles Hirt and James Vail were at Southern
California—Hirt conducted the first festival performance in
which my choir sang. In addition, Howard Swan was active at
Occidental College, and, for a convention meeting, he agreed
to do the first rehearsal of the year with his choir; Paul Sala-
munovich was teaching at Loyola Marymount; Jane Skinner
Hardester was at El Camino College; and other distinguished
conductors were at work in other colleges and universities.
All of these fine professionals had an enormous influence on
me as a young teacher.
It was also a time when the Southern California Vocal
Association meetings organized sessions around the latest
research in Vocal Technique and Vocal Science. It was in those
meetings that I saw the early pictures of the vocal folds in ac-
tion, and I learned from the vocal scientists a great deal about
the technical aspects of voice production. (I must also quickly
acknowledge the enormous contribution ofWilliamVennard.
whose book Singing, the Mechanism and the Technique, was
prominent on my shelf.)
It was my experience at the time that the voice teacher
was a choral conductor and the choral conductor was often a
voice teacher. My first serious voice teacher was the conductor

Ann Howard Jones (DMA. University of


Iowa) is professor of music and director
of choral activities at Boston University,
where she conducts the Boston University
Symphonic Chorus and Chamber Chorus,
teaches advanced choral conducting, and
serves as conductor of the Boston University
Tangiewood Institute Young Artists Choruses. She was assistant
conductor for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus.where
she was associated with the late Robert Shaw. In addition, Jones
served as conductor for the Atlanta Symphony Youth Chorus, and
was Musical Assistant for the Robert Shaw Singers, the Festival
Singers, and the Robert Shaw Institute. She has taught at the
Universities of Iowa. Georgia, and Illinois, as well as at Wittenberg
and Emory Universities; served as a musical emissary to Germany
and France; and was a Fulbright Professor in Brazil, lecturing in
choral and vocal pedagogy Jones has conducted over twenty all-
state choirs, and is a life member of ACDA. <ahjones@bu.edu>
of the university's large chorus and the example, are studying and preparing for it and have a career singing professionally
opera productions. He also participated careers in vocal performance. Very few as we all know, but some do and that
in the early research in speech pathol- intend to teach in the school classroom gives others hope! It is not my intention
ogy and audiology exploring sinus reso- or conduct choirs. to discourage them. Rathen I am aware
nance. Furthermore, ail ofthe musicians Of course, we can point out the harsh that sitting in front of me as I conduct
(not just the conductors) I knew were reaiities ofthe professional performance choruses are singers with a wide range
teachers. That's what I thought people world. All of us can relate stories ofthe of career intentions, some of which will
did who studied music. It was only after promising and talented young singers include the career-minded vocal perfor-
I conducted and taught for several years who are in the city working in restau- mance major and the music education
that I encountered the "conservatory," rants and auditioning while they wait for student with a choral emphasis, to the
where students were preparing for their big break. Some of them even sing non music major the child or youth, and
professional careers in music, and music in choruses to earn money as they wait! the aging singerWhat is my responsibility
education was only one option for them, (Sadly there are few professional chorus- to their vocaí development? (In view of
and in most cases, not the first. The es in the country now employing singers some ofthe literature with which I am
students in voice at Boston University, full time—Chanticleer Cantus, to name acquainted,the care ofthe voice is not
where I presently teach and conduct, for two—you may know others.) Few make my responsibility, i happen to disagree
vigorously with that view.) How am I to
care for the voce in the rehearsal?What
can I do that will assure the students
(and our voice-teaching colleagues) that
I have their healthy singing paramount in
my mind?
JOHN RUTTER: A CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL There are some limiting factors. Some
A laiidiitavk rclcuic from ('.ollc^iiiin: the ßril nU-ucw i'.hristimis rcconiin^ from conductors have insufficient knowledge
¡ohn Rutter ntui the Cambridge Singers for nearly hwitly years, fcnliirin^ the of appropriate repertoire for the young
Royal Philharmonie Orchestra ami Fartiham Youth Choir. singer or the singer with the "million doi-
iar" voice who is concerned about ma-
No living composer has conit li> iie mon.- closely nipulating ft too much in choral rehearsai;
associaifd with Christmas than John Kulter: tor mure
liian thirty yeiirs. his caruls anii olhcr .'¿ea.sonal choral some are not weil prepared to analyze
music have been an indispensable feature <j\' a score to figure out how to minimize
Christmas célébrât ion i worldwide.
the amount of time a singer spends in
Inspired by the success of his iinich-kivfj imniiüi
Christmasamcertsal the Royal AUXTI 1 Jail, this majoi
the extreme of the range, for example,
ni*w disc fealures freiniL're rt'coriiiii¡;s vi over a do/.cn or at a demanding dynamic; still others
brand- new compositions and arrangements tor
Christmas by John Rutter, together wilh his own are pianists or composers first and have
personal sfk'ctiou of •.casdnai choral and orchestral limited understanding ofthe voice and
favoiiriles by other composers. Recorded in the
splendid setting o("London's Cadogan Hall, ihis ¡s the feel uncomfortable training and develop-
first all-new (Christmas release from Rutter's ing it in the rehearsal. It is also important
celebrated Cambridge Singers for almost twenty
years, and the first ever to feature the glorious sound of full symphony orehesira .md organ. to recognize that some lack the neces-
sary skills to manage the rehearsal itself
lohn Rui ter directs thi- (Cambridge Singers, ihe Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and the
award-winning Farnbam Youth Choir ainngsidi: soloists Melanie Murshall, Clara Sanabras ;md Eiin and so singers are allowed to develop
Manahan Thomas, for an untbrgettablele.stival of Christmas music.
unhealthy habits. On the other hand,
and thankfully many of us are singers
and have had a great deal of experience
Distributed in Ihe USA by KOCH Entertainment 22 Harbor Park Drive Pori Washington, NY 11050
with the voice. One crucial element in
the process of dealing with the voice in
the choral rehearsal is identifying our

Choral Journal • November 2008


own strengths and weaknesses and then ductor build a choir's tone. (Isn't that the experience worth the anxiety.
working to remedy the weaknesses while one of the benefits of an all-state or The idea, obviously is to improve the
continuing to explore our strengths. an honor choir?) sound of the chorus by increasing the
Recently. I have been given a manuscript capacity of each singer to sing with
to review on the subject of the solo singer Learn the International Phonetic Al- more beauty more colon more con-
in the choral rehearsal that raises many phabet. Correcting vowels and trol, more dynamic variation, more
issues with which I am uncomfortable. So standardizing them is a major part of expressive phrasing, etc.)
today I am going to address the basics of improving singers' sounds.
voice building for the choral conductor Read the appropriate material in the
There are so many things about which the Encourage members of the choir to professional journals. The Choral
voice teacher and the choral conductor study voice privately It is still true joumal frequently contains a column
might disagree, that I ain going to attempt that the best choirs are made up of called "On the Voice." Sharon Hansen,
to speak about the things with which most the best voices. editon v^hich can provide significant
of us agree—mindful of the fact that voice information and assistance. I recom-
teachers as a group agree about very little! Organize a voice class for your choir mend enthusiastically the writings of
I am also mindful of the fact that the sound Most people who sing want to sound Stephen F Austin, associate professor
of the choir is personal. Each of us has his better themselves and would appre- of voice at the University of North
or her own way of working on the special ciate the opportunity to leam. (In Texas. His article "Building Strong
sound we hear for our own choin The Atlanta with the Symphony Chorus, Voices: Twelve Different Ways!" is in
fact remains that some of us need some Robert Shaw enlisted the assistance the Choral journai of December 2007,
guidance and all of us need an occasional of Florence Kopleff, distinguished There are many others.
reminder on how that sound comes into soloist with the Robert Shaw Cho-
being and how we can monitor it and train rale and now-retired professor of Invite a trusted voice teacher/friend to
it to make it more beautiful, more expres- voice at Ceorgia State University, to attend a rehearsal. Think of them
sive and healthien teach a voice class every Monday as voice builders in the old Ger-
night before rehearsal. Singers would man sense. I remember two such
As a start, there are some things we can come with an art song prepared; they voice teachers who came to choral
do: wouid sing for Miss Kopleff and she rehearsals specifically to assist with
would comment Scary but invaluable, vocal issues: W h o can forget Frauke
• Study voice. and most who ventured forth, found Haasemann, and many of us knew

• Ask successful colleagues for help,

• Observe rehearsals of those who have


great-sounding choirs.

• Sing in a great choir ourselves. (Few get


It's all in the details.
much from singing in a bad chorus,
after all!)
I them to us!
• Attend conferences and conventions .zed Performance
where you can leam—not simply
by listening t o great choirs, but also
J, Asia, Africa 8k the Ami
by attending rehearsals and sessions
where techniques are taught and
explained. This conference is particu-
larly commendable forthe number of A lyridge to the world
sessions it presents where practical
Jest 72nd Street, Suite 302, New York, NY 10023
assistance is offered.
13^00-8841 I 212-580-0760 I Fax: 212-874-4554
cqpt-tours.com I info@Concept-Tours.com
• Watch a skilled and experienced con-

Choral journal • November 2008


Molly Rich who assisted Robert Rich amount of rehearsal time, the objectives Remember that a cue is an invita-
at Stetson. I am sure there are many of the particular program, the priorities tion.
others. These voice teachers came of the singers in the chorus, the training
into the rehearsal t o assist with vocal that the singers bring to the chorus, and Keep the gesture full of breath and
matters and the conductor was left the kind of literature that we sing—must use the horizontal space t o en-
t o shape the music itself It is much serve that end. courage line in the voice.
the same procedure as that used We as conductors have a crucial role in
with an orchestra where the con- the development of the ensemble and its
ductor is not expected t o teach the sound. Here are some suggestions to help Singers must stand and sit well,
musicians how to play the individual us be more effective.
instruments, but to shape the music • Because we do so much work with
and create the ensemble. The private the singers seated, be careful t o
teacher is the person responsible for monitortheir seated posture, (Si-
Practical Suggestions
the player's technical skill. mon Carrington, our distinguished
for the Rehearsal
colleague from Yale University led
• Program quality literature that gives your a session at the Eastern Division
singers a vehicle for singing well. I Mode! appropriate postural mechanics, convention in Hartford this spring
have great admiration for my friend where he emphasized helpful sing-
and colleague at Harvard University, • Be centered, ing posture especially while the
Jameson Marvin, who has such intel- singer is seated.)
ligent singers but no performance • Keep your torso long, not col-
majors. He chooses a lot of early lapsed.
music and sharply dissonant 20th
century music—music that suits the • Convey energy; buoyancy in your Principles of Good Singing
color palette of the voices he has. body, Some years ago, I had the good fortune
of hearing a wonderful talk on good sing-
If the goal is to enable the chorus to • Monitor tension in your head, mouth, ing by Elmer Copley a teacher of voice
make a beautiful, communicative, sensitive neck, face, hands. Eliminate it if in the midwest. I have added to his basic
and expressive sound in health, then all you can. ideas (so much so that sometimes I can't
the differences that exist among us—the remember what is his and what is mine!)
Watch for gestural interference as you and found that they have been helpful to
conduct. many people, so here are six principles of
good singing that I think will help anyone
• Preparatory gesture must not stop. who is interested in vocal development
Pocket Coach for singers in chorus, A cautionary note:
•Take care that cut-ofTs are not unusu- Remember that singers in the chorus do
Choral Practice CDs
ally abrupt not always hear the precise thing you are
Save time in your rehearsals saying. They might not understand; the
with Pocket Coach choral CDs: words might not mean anything t o them;
• Handel Messiah Quick Tip they might hear something that you are
• Brahms Requiem not saying; they might misinterpret your
• Fauré Requiem Plan your convention travel meaning. Be especially careful when you
• Mozart Requiem schedule so that you can attend are discussing technical matters. If you are
• Vivaldi Gloria convention events on Saturday in doubt, check your ideas and the words
• Beethoven Mass in C you use to express them with a colleague
afternoon and evening.
• Mozart Coronation Mass you know well and respect. Ask for help
Don't miss out by leaving early.
to make your language more precise;
• Bach Magnificat You can now register for the educate your own ear to hear sounds
convention online at that need adjusting. I think it is important
Diction • Accompaniment
<www.acda,org> to stay out of the voice teachers' wayThe
www. PocicetC oach.com

Choral journal • November 2008


young voice in performance programs is of appropriate muscles and the releasing chorus and to sing within that sound. One
working very hard to develop technical of others. Some are voluntary, some are of the biggest voices I have ever had in a
expertise to serve the repertoire that involuntary. The diaphragm, for example, chorus toid me she thought about focusing
they are singing. I don't think it is in that is an involuntary muscle.The neck, mouth, the energy of the sound more and sing-
voice's best interest, or our own, for that shoulders and head should be released so ing wrth a tone that is less "blovv^y" (her
matten to interfere with that. This is NOT that the muscles of inhalation and exhala- word)! I certainly wanted the sound of
to say that bad pitch, aberrational vibrato, tion can do their work. Managing exhala- her voice in the choir, but she could have
excessively bright or dark tones, forced tion is important Expansion in the area out sung all of us without her attention to
singing and other vocal faults are to be below the rib cage is inevitable as the lungs the "sleeve,"
encouraged^even allowed—in chorus. fill. These are things about which most of
But, I do try to emphasize unison singing, us would agree, but all ofthis is a complex
• Breath As Energy
excellent pitch, beautiful tone, good dic- coordination of musculature, and it is not
"relaxed.'The muscular activity required in The concept of "support" is an elusive
tion, accurate rhythm, healthy singing and
singing is explained differently by different one for many people who are trying to
leave the vocal or physical manipulation sing. It seems to imply something static. I
and the words describing those things to singers and teachers and people experi-
ence different sensations when they sing. prefer to think of something more active.
the studio teacher The breathing mechanism is a natural one:
So I think it is less controversial and less
The following ideas describe good sing- it functions without us giving it any thought
difficult forthe singer if I emphasize releas-
ing for me. To extend it for singing, a deeper sensation
ing the muscles that interfere (jaw, throat,
neck, shoulders, face, legs, etc.) and let the and a more controlled release is required.
• Body Attitude studio teacher emphasize the muscular
Proper vocal technique depends on sensations after that. There is too much
good postural mechanics. Batherthan talk room for misinterpretation and misun-
about the elements of good posture by derstanding in this area for me to wade in
speaking about the various body parts, I try casually! Many vocal exercises are designed
to talk about the body's energy. I think it is to emphasize the release of the muscles
important to emphasize the active engage- that are working when they should not be
ment of the body with the mindThe singer ('Va,""ma,"and"pa"to release the jaw,"ia"
should think about being connected. I sug- forthe tongue, "ng" for the palette and the
gest they stand as If they are about to walk tongue, etc.). Stretching, moving, swinging
composer
on a tight rope, (It should pull the torso up the arms and all kinds of physical activity
and lengthen it. It gives the body the feel- can help release the inappropriate muscles TWO CHORAL ARRANGEMI
ing of suspension.) Spring up on the toes. so that the appropriate ones can work.
M A R T I N LUTHER K I N G D A Y
Feel as if you could stride from your singing
readiness, jog lightly to keep the mind and Blessed Assurance (Black Gospel)
SSAATT86, Soprano Soloist, organ & piano
the body engaged. Singing does not come "ToneThat Is In Motion
a large scale rousing 10 minute anthem
out of a static body Run. Step. Stretch. Feel The sound should spin, the breath
-commissioned & premiered by
a connection to the core. Be ready Think should be moving. Forcing air and pushing
Riverside Church, NYC
about a positive connection between the breath is to be avoided, in my opinion. 'performed during the inaugural
The sound progresses through a phrase celebration of Martin Luther King Day
body and tone production. Like an athlete, at Dr. King's own church in Atlanta,
the singer in the wrong alignment is going because the breath is allowing the tone to -voted a top 10 anthem
move. I use the phrase "on the breath" to by the Ocean Grove Choral Festival
to compensate in some way that is likely
-recorded by First Presbyterian Church, NYC
to cause problems. Great assistance can be try to help the singers keep the tone and
provided by work on AlexanderTechnique the breath connected and moving. Hissing,
humming, and then opening to a vowel Blessed Assurance (A Cappella)
and Feldenkrais, obviously, but the attitude SSAATTBB
of the mind with the body is important. can be helpful because one cannot htss or
hum unless breath is flowing through the -a virtuoso arrangement
commissioned & premiered by
mechanism and then the vowel can ride the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, NYC
" Appropriate W o r k right on the hiss or the hum. In this area, -performed by Voices of Ascension
-published by Oxford University Press
For me, it is impossible to think about I might venture into the concept of the
singing as a relaxed activity. Singing is "sleeve" of the sound of a section. Singers see and hear more at
physical. It is athletic. It requires the action need to be aware of the sound of the www.wertsch.com

Choral Joumal • November 2008


But the main thing for me is to think about soon). Remember that the vowels carry on the ee [ i ] vowel in genera!. Singers can
the breath being the activator of the tone the tone. In the chorus, vowels are first use their hands moving from low at the
and the breath serving the phrase. Air of all correct (check IPA) and then uni- back of the head to the front and top while
needs to flow through the cords before fied, (Vowel unification and color can be singing to suggest the vowel's migration up
there will be tone; impedance in this area dramatically afFected by the placement of and over and out I am listening for a vowel
will be troublesome, but I try to talk about the singers in the chorus. Experiment to with a lot of "dome," a lot of space and a
breath energy and I use exercises that con- see if you can find an optimum arrange- lot of ring—whatever the vowel, I think
nect the breath t o the tone without much ment for the singers' sounds or give them it IS up to the conductor to decide what
explanation to avoid using words that will so much space around themselves that the correct vowel is and then work to get
cause the singers to have questions. Stac- they are singing like a soloist! For me as everyone to produce that vowel in the
cato and other articulations, especially the a singen the worst thing that can happen center of the same pitch. A unified, cor-
tenuto; humming and hissing again; tongue to me is to have another singer breath- rect, ringing, and well-shaped vowel does
and lip trills; and many other exercises ing right down my neck, I feel as if I can't a great deal for the choir's sound. I like the
will help. It Í5 useful to me to remember sing my own sound, and that is usually "yawn-sigh" exercise ofWilliamVennard
that singers will take in the breath that is because I can't hear it.) Voweis can have to work on this. It is also a great exercise
needed to sing a phrase, It is therefore varying colors depending on the text or to release the energy in a rehearsal. It can
necessary to rehearse in phrases and not the mood or the dynamic. Modification is help singers release tension. If you need
in little spurts so the singer can learn to needed to create more space to accom- help in knowing what vowels are the
take in and release breath t o manage the modate the vowel in the extreme of the correct ones in singing, there are many
phrase. It is analogous to a string piayer range,Too many singers modify too soon sources for guidance on the Intemational
and the bow. and too much without realizing it so the Phonetic Alphabet and many writers on
vowel loses its definition, its shape, and its the subject of diction in various languages
• Radical Vowels "radical ness." that can help. Conductors are urged not
A five-tone descending scale with the to neglect excellent English diction. We
The following words describe a radical
vowels oo [u] and ee [ i ] alternated rapidly absolutely should be able to be under-
vowel for me: focused, centered, and ac-
on each pitch is good and I like to exercise stood when singing in our own language!
curate (i.e., not modified too much or too
The writings of Madeleine Marshall, Joan
Wall, John Moriarty, and many others are
available t o provide assistance.

• Breath And Text As Rhythmic Events


Robert Shaw always used to say, "The
right note at the wrong time is the wrong
note." One of the reasons the right note
is at the wrong time is that the consonant
hasn't been placed ahead of the beat or
the onset of the breath is too relaxed and
too late. In both cases, the vowel sounds
late and it is often out of tune. Inhalation
affects the onset of the tone; the onset
affects rhythmic precision. Often a "lazy"
breath can be remedied by encouraging
Our cxpLTtist- gLidr.iiut;e,s cartriul ^uicniion to imvcl ¿ind pcrfuinuiict; details,
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14 Choral Journal • November 2008


sound. Singers need to practice the so- Remember this quotation from Leon- to sing."
called "catch breath," fast rhythmic breath- ard Bernstein: "In spite of nature's ills and Let's try to make the singing more
ing, that can sometimes cause problems in man's inhumanities, there are baser and beautiful and nobler Thank you.
the production of a free sound. Rhythmi- nobler options of action. And it is part of
cizing text is an important element in the being human to choose the nobler War
famous count-singing exercises of Robert may continue to exist: we will continue
Shaw. Utilizing this technique, consonants,
especially final consonants at the ends
of phrases or before breaths, are placed
rhythmically For example, to practice a
[ t ] release on the "and" of four, the singer
counts aloud I and 2 and 3 (we alv\/ays
substitute "tee" because the initial " t h "
taKes too long) and 4, with the placement
ofthe final consonant [ t ] in the place of
the ' 'and' ' of 4. Any final consonant can be
rehearsed this way One ofthe benefits of
this rhythmic treatment of text is precision
of releases, obviously but it also can have a
positive effect on the breath that follows
the release. In the interior of a text, rhyth-
mic precision of pronunciation can help to
unify a chorus, transmit text more clearly,
and create a more convincing sound. As
Shaw used to say, "Clarity of enunciation
not only clarifies'meaning'; it enhances and
enriches choral 'color,"'{RobertShaw,in a
letter to the chorus from October 2,1991.
Read that same letter for Shaw's interest-
ing comments on vibrato! Cited in Blocken
ïïie Robert Shaw Reader, page 87), This
Emory University
precision needs to be rehearsed.We spent
hours in the Atlanta Symphony Choruses
in Atlanta
count singing for precision, believing as our
leader did, that rhythmic precision could
hardly be precise enough! Master of Music in Choral Conducting
Master of Sacred Music in Choral Conducting
The ideas I have just talked about have
been learned and assimilated from /ears Full niition remission plus $13,500 stipend
of my own study and teaching of voice; I IIL N i U n n , D i i L v i o r ot ( linriil ALtivirics
from my own singing, both as a soloist Audition dates: Monday, January 26, 2009,
and as a member of a chorus; from forty and Monday, February 23, 2009
years of conducting every kind of chorus
imaginable; and from endless discussion For information contact
with colleagues who are singers, teach- Director of Círaduatc Studies
ers and conductors, and who themselves Department of Music EMORY
h,ave grappled with these concerns. All of Emory University
us have the singer at the forefront of our Atlanta, Georgia 30322
thinking. Many of these colleagues have 404.727.6445
observed the rehearsals I have conducted www. music, emory. edu
and collaborated with me in developing
these concepts. I owe them my thanks,

Choral burnal • November 2008