Posts Tagged “sight-singing”
When we sing at MPA, we are evaluated by three judges on our stage performance, and by a fourth judge for sight-singing. The best score a judge can give us is “superior,” which is like getting an A, or level 5 on the FCAT. But how do judges decide on a rating?
This first link will take you to the judging sheet used for choral performance. You will see that there are three main categories: tone quality, technical preparation, and musical effect. Tone quality is, in essence, how you sing and what you sound like. This includes elements like our breathing and breath control, tall vowels, crisp consonants, and blend of voices. Technical preparation is how well we know the music. Are we singing the correct rhythms and pitches? Are we singing in tune? Do we come in and cut off where we’re supposed to? When we sing in parts, are the parts balanced, or is one louder than the other? Finally, musical effect refers to how we use our tone quality and knowledge of the technical aspects of the songs and make them musical. How are our dynamics? What about phrasing? Are we singing with expression? Do the singers respond to what the conductor is asking them to do? As you scroll down to the second page of the document, you will see the scale, just like the grading scales or rubrics that you are used to seeing in all your classes, that the judges use to determine their grades for each of the main elements.
I have also included a link to the sight-reading judging sheet. This also has three categories. The first is about rhythmic execution. Do we keep a steady beat? Are our note and rest values accurate as we sight-sing our rhythm example? The second category, melodic and harmonic accuracy, is used for our melody exercise. Do we sing the correct intervals? Do we stay in the same key? When we sight-sing in parts, as Concert Chorus does, is there balance between the parts? The final sight-reading category is called musical and tonal fundamentals. Here, the judge listens for tone quality, just as the stage judges do. The judge is also listening for confidence (everybody singing), phrasing, dynamics and expression. The judging scale is on the second page of this document, too.
Now that you know how we will be judged, think about what we’ve been doing in class. Are we earning an A in all those categories every day as we prepare? That’s our goal.
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I know that some of you are interested in trying out for All-State Chorus when we come back to school. If you want to get a head-start on things over the summer, here are some things you can do:
First, mark these dates:
- Saturday, September 24: musicianship testing, at Dreyfoos High School of the Arts
- Monday, October 17th: audition for those people who pass the musicianship tests. This will be after school, place to be determined.
- If you pass the audition AND receive a place in the All-State Chorus, you will be going to Tampa for three days, January 12-14, 2012.
The test and audition are earlier than usual this year, so anyone interested in All-State will need to get a quick start. You can help yourself get ready by using the following websites:
Musictheory.net. This is a fantastic website that will help you with lessons and practice exercises. To prepare for the test, I would go through all the lessons under “the basics.” Under “rhythm,” read simple and compound meter; under “scales and key signatures,” read major scale, key signatures, and key signature calculation. Under “intervals,” read generic intervals. For “chords,” just do introduction to chords. The exercises to do are: note identification, key signature identification, generic interval identification, chord ear training, and interval ear training. Any of the exercises can be customized, but it is especially important to do so with the ear training exercises. With these, you will be listening to either a chord or interval, and identifying it by its sound. For chord ear training, click customize, then use only major triad and minor triad. Allow no changes during the exercise, and root position only. As to how they are played, pick the pattern on the bottom left, which is the lowest note, then the middle, then the top, then all three together. For interval ear training, customize to play major and perfect intervals only (you will see what I mean when you do this) and have them played low note-high note-both notes together (the fourth choice.)
At the Florida Vocal Association website, you will also find a lot of valuable information. This link will take you to a page where you can find musicianship exams from past years, to see what the test looks like. Especially important is the vocabulary study guide for 7/8. There will be a lot of questions on musical terms and symbols, and this list is an important guide. Finally, practice sight-singing examples and the actual sight-singing test from 2009-2010 will help you practice for the sight-singing portion of the text.
Finally, there is a listening portion of the musicianship test, as you will see if you look at past exams on the FVA website. Through this website you can purchase a CD-ROM that offers practice in this aspect of the test. However, the CD is expensive ($38 plus tax and shipping) and only works on IBM-compatible computers; in other words, it won’t work on a Mac, and is not something you can put in an audio CD player.
Because of the early test date, I’m probably going to have to register interested students by early September. So if you are planning to try out, let me know as soon as you make your decision.
I hope you are all having a great summer!
Wait a minute! I thought concert season was in December! Isn’t concert season over?
Well, no. For the past month, we have concentrated on soloists and ensembles, as we prepared for their performance assessment. Now, it’s everyone’s turn. For the next two months, our focus will be on concert MPA. So that’s why Mr. Houchins, the director at Palm Beach Central High School, made the comment on Saturday that this is the beginning of concert season.
What does this mean for us? Well, we will be working very hard on the two songs each chorus will sing at MPA. There will also be a lot of time spent on sight singing. We may begin to look at some music for spring concert, but since MPA is earlier this year, we will have plenty of time after it is over to work on that music. So if we sing through spring music, it will be for a break.
Just hang in there! The time from now to MPA will fly, and we’ll have Spring Break the week before MPA. And the harder we work, the more enjoyable MPA will be.