Reply To: In over my head! Please read and HELP.
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I found myself in a similar situation about a year ago when my dad joined a barbershop choir and asked me to be the director. I have a similar background, my degree is in music education with an emphasis on instruments. I was in choir for one semester in college and that was the extent of my vocal training. I teach k-6 general music, band and choir. The barbershop choir has been a challenge for the instrumentalist side of me. But I will say, musical common sense applies to both vocal and instrumental music. I can tell a very noticeable positive difference since I started directing the chorus. I was able to get a scholarship to a week long barbershop directors college over the summer and I learned so much about vocal production and how to run a dynamic, energetic rehearsal. I’ve been taking voice lessons since December to try and learn more also. The voice lessons have been great! I’ve learned so much! I finally feel confident about directing my grade school choir and the barbershop chorus. By the way, the barbershop guys are an amazing bunch. They are surprisingly knowledgeable and very helpful. If you have a barbershop chorus in your area you should look them up and enlist the help of their director. Even if you just go to some rehearsals and observe you could pick up some great ideas.
I’ve learned to trust my instincts. If I’m listening to something that isn’t sounding the way it sounds in my head, stop and figure out a way to get the singers to sound the way you want them to. You may not know the exact “correct” terminology, but your instrumental “tools” you’ve been using for years do apply to singing in a lot of ways.
As for the difference between choir and chorus, I’m not sure the difference either. The barbershoppers are very picky about being called a chorus NOT choir. I was corrected at least 10 times throughout my week of training. They said a choir sings more upscale, stuffy music and chorus usually implies music that is a little more informal……I don’t know if that is correct, but that’s what they said.