Students will occasionally be required to take a performance exam. The grade is based on the following criteria
1. Ability to follow the music
2. Ability to have used the markings made in the music and put them into effect on the quiz
3. Ability to match pitch, sing with tall vowels and project a quality sound.
The act of singing is a skill that can be taught and learned- it is not genetic. With few exceptions, we all are endowed with the same basic anatomy needed to produce singing sounds. While learning to sing there are some who possess a natural coordination of the vocal mechanism that may make learning to sing easier, or may cause them to produce “pleasing” singing sounds more easily. That said, the notion of a “pleasing” tone depends on ones definition of singing. Vocal instruction in all LMS vocal music classes is based on the following definition from The Science of Vocal Pedagogy by Ralph Appleman.
“Psychophysically, artful singing is the dynamic (ever changing) act of coordinating instantaneously the physical sensations of respiration (the will to breathe), phonation (the will to utter a sound), resonation (the will to form a particular vowel position), and articulation (the will to communicate by forming both vowel and consonant) into a disciplined utterance.”
Tone Quality/Vowel Placement- Students are expected to display an openness and clarity of tone appropriate for a person at their stage of vocal maturation, and appropriate for the style of music being performed. They should sing "pharyngealized" vowels, or vowels that utilize more throat space as the main resonator. Not doing this will yield a thin, tight, or strident tone.
Intonation (singing in tune)- Students are expected to perform the excerpt in tune with regard to the relationship of the pitches diatonic to an established key. In simpler terms, they must perform "on key".
Pitch and Rhythmic Accuracy- Students are expected to perform all the correct pitches and rhythms in the excerpt. It is almost impossible to be musical when one performs numerous incorrect pitches. This is the most basic area of music making.
Diction- Singers have the added charge of communicating text. Students are expected to render a performance where consonants do not hinder the flow of the vocal line, and are balanced, crisp, clear, precise, and appropriate for the music being performed.
Musicality/Expression- In high level performing, singers must render a performance that transcends the mere singing of notes. With regard to Bloom's taxonomy, matching pitch and singing the correct notes and rhythms would be considered the lowest form of performance and musical experience. Students are asked to sing with "line". This means not breathing in the middle of words or phrases and emphasizing certain pitches or words depending on their stress (tonic, metric, or syllabic). Also, students should observe dynamic markings in their score (music).
These skills are taught in class on a daily basis, where we cover basic fundamentals of a healthy vocal production. I model sounds, and play recordings of singers and ensembles who display the desired tone the serves the music. No student should expect to fail or perform poorly because they “can’t sing”. This logic would not be accepted if a student claimed they “couldn’t do math”. Enrollment in this class means you will give your best effort to improve your singing.