Ensemble Singing

Principles of vocal health transcend singing style or situation. Choral singing, like all forms of voice use, presents specific challenges. A complete discussion of vocal health in the ensemble setting is beyond the scope of this manual. However, I would strongly encourage any interested party to look at the book entitled The Solo Singer in the Choral Setting: A Handbook for Achieving Vocal Health by Margaret Olson.

In the book, Margaret Olson presents the unique perspective of choral singing from a soloist’s viewpoint, providing a clear outline of several issues facing the solo singer in the choral setting. She discusses concepts as diverse as body position in rehearsal and acoustic sound production, and she offers practical ideas for solving these challenges. Teaching examples and case studies help illustrate the problems and offer potential solutions for handling the challenges of the choral environment.

After a general overview of vocal technique, the chapters address the physiological, psychological, pedagogical, acoustic, and interpretive issues facing the solo singer in the choral setting. Concepts, such as phonation; resonation and timbre; approaches to diction; voice classification; choral blend; interpreting emotion; relationships among choral conductor, singer, and teacher of singing; and the use of vibrato are examined in detail. Concluding with a conversation with two choral conductors, as well as a glossary, bibliography, and index, this volume is beneficial to singers, teachers, and conductors alike.

She states that her hope is that this book “will make a positive contribution to both solo and choral singing, and that it will begin a new era of understanding and communication among singers, teachers of singing, and choral conductors.”The book even mentions St. Olaf College a couple times, and quotes Olaf Christiansen himself! Hard and digital copies are available at the St. Olaf Music Library and Bridge, respectively.