May 7, 2017

Ear Training - from the Directors viewpoint

Pete directs from the tenor section, and sings along as well
(adapted from a post in The Stairwell Carollers Choir Blog)

David Rain, tenor:
 How on earth  do you hear everyone, including our mistakes, while singing along at full throttle?

Pierre:
I'm not sure, but you're definitely right about my being able to hear everything.  It's not necessarily that I can pin point a specific individual culprit, but I immediately know there's something wrong and can definitely tell where the mistake is coming from.  About 90% of the time, I can tell who it is, but tend not to expose individuals.
Pierre Massie directs a rehearsal of the Stairwell Carollers
That I'll do later, one on one or by email, and will make suggestions on how to improve.  It's actually that sort of thing that prompted the ear training stuff on the members' page. ( I will post some links later. )

Pete and his Mom - his biggest fan, she will be 89 this year!
One thing I do know.  I've always been this way.  I come from a family of singers on both sides.  My ear has always been super fine-tuned to identifying wrong chords played or out of tune.  In high school I could always tell if someone in our 100 or so piece band was playing the wrong note.  When I'd mention it, they would always be surprised and wonder how I was able to do that.  Chord structure and progressions of vertical structures has always been something that I am sensitive to.  Not sure where that sort of thing comes from but then again,  Mozart could hear something once and play it on the piano.  Holly always told me I was a bit autistic that way.
Pete and older brother Serge both had bands in their 20's - good times!
Mind you, someone like Susan's Jim... that totally boggles my mind. (Susan is one of our altos and Treasurer. Her husband Jim plays piano by ear and accompanies intuitively) There's no way I could do what he does and I've always been blown away by anyone who could accompany people on the fly.  He seems to be able to fiddle around and fall into whatever key you're singing it as well.

Jim freely accompanies Ernie on fiddle and Diane on Bodhran (choir pool party)
I discovered in my first year of university, that I had a long way to go with pitch corrections.  Three years of sight-singing, interval identification and progressively more difficult music dictations, fixed a lot of that.
Pierre learned a grade 6 on all instruments for his degree ; violin is an ear challenge
I have to say that I've noticed my ear becoming more and more sensitive to intonation as years progress.  I seem to pick out more and more as we go along.  That could be because the choir is stronger than before and so slight intonation errors are more  noticeable than they used to be.

Mysteries of life, eh David?  It's what makes all of us so interesting.

David, holding his choir book mainly for show, sings most pieces by heart.
P.S. Thanks so much for knowing the music so well.  It's always nice to see a person who puts in the effort and time to make sure our performances are the best they can be.
(From an email correspondence between David and Pierre)

Ciao, Pierre

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