Choir Musical Skills Unit: Topics and Learning Targets
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UnitMusical SkillsThe performable attributes of music which express themselves physically and aurally. These are based on the WSMA ballot categories.
These are the musical skills that musicians strive to improve throughout life and listeners may enjoy and/or judge.
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TopicToneThe quality of the sound produced by an individual or group
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Learning
Target
Learning Target
Questions
+/-
What does it
look like?
What does it sound like
when a individual performs
this target with quality?
What will an ensemble of
musicians sound like
when they all exhibit this quality?
How can you improve your
individual performance in this
area so the group can improve?
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Body PostureWhat postures
do you use for
various activities
in your life?
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Tall posture, head up,
shoulders back,
feet shoulder width apart
open, free sound that is
not hampered by cramped
posture
Posture is the basis of good tone:
nothing else can happen
without good posture
Constant awareness of the
connection between posture
and quality performance
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cramped posture,
collapsed head or
shoulders, unbalanced feet
pinched, quiet sound
Cannot develop quality tone
without proper posture
Mirror
Awareness
Move while singing
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Head & NeckHow do the
muscles in
your body
impact the
sound you
produce?
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Relaxed jaw and
neck muscles
Relaxed, free sound
unforced & smooth
Easy to listen to,
mature, difficult to pick out
individual voices in the group
5-note scales at quick tempo
while moving head & jaw slowly
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-
tight or tense jaw
and neck muscles
tight, pressed sound,
harsh or tinny,
pinched, Kermit-ish
harsh, shouty
difficult to blend voices
hum & chew
massage jaw while singing
chin down while singing
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Breath
Support
What is the
connection
between
air and
sound?
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Belly breathing
(expands on inhalation)
supported,
clear tone
clear, not airy, sound
adequate volume
beautiful sound
hold note and crescendo
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-
Shoulder breathing
Chest breathing
Inverted belly breathing
or no body movement
while breathing
breathy tone
quiet volume
immature/child-like
quiet, timid, breathy
Sounds "afraid" - even if the
choir knows the notes,
rhythms, and words well
mirror
"ha ha ha" staccatos
"ss ss ss" staccatos
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Mouth Space
(Soft palate
and tongue)
What can we
do to change
the space
between our
vocal cords
and lips?
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Soft palate raised,
tongue out of the way
and down
large, echo-y sound,
mature, big,
resonant
easier to blend,
mature sound
practice giving
all vowels have equal space
in back of mouth
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Soft palate down,
tongue up & blocking
sound
thin, harsh sound
immature,
hard to blend,
thin, shouty tone
"hot pizza" or pear-shaped mouth,
sudden inhales & sighs,
mirror
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Vowel
Shapes
Why are the
vowel shapes we
make while
singing important?
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North/South mouth shape,
teeth apart
Vowel shapes made
correctly with lips
beautiful, open vowels,
every vowel is always the
same good quality,
no geographic dialect
easy to blend group when all
have pure vowels,
nobody sticks out of the group
beautiful tone, mature
warmup exercises at quick
tempo that keeps vowels
consistent - even the short,
"unimportant" words in a song
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East/West mouth shape,
Vowel shapes indistinct,
incorrect,
teeth together
vowels uneven or harsh,
immature or pinched sound
"Wisconsin" dialect
individual voices identifiable
within the group,
hard to blend because
each member has his/her own
sound or dialect
mirror
listen to examples
mah/may/mee/moh/moo slowly
say lyrics out loud slowly
British/French/German accent
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Tone
Intonation
Musicality (Interpretation)
Technique
Student Evaluation