Help, trying to get my altos to sing out
  • donr
    Posts: 969
    I have had one alto for a while now. She has a wonder voice and is learning to sight sing very nicely. The issue is I just can't hear her. For the Seasonal choir this year we have 3 Altos, so I figured I would finally be able to hear the Alto section. No luck.
    The music doesn't seem to be too low for them. They just don't project. Does anyone have a tip or two or three?
  • SkirpRSkirpR
    Posts: 854
    Once a choir can start to read - or at least there is enough reading leadership in each section - I never (or rarely) go over one part by itself, but rather combine it with another. If you have to go over all or some of the parts individually out of necessity, by all means do so, but then go over them combined with just one other part before putting them all together. If one part is weaker, then do it with several other parts. For example, with weak altos I might teach a piece as follows:

    1) altos alone

    2) altos with basses (it's easier to hear their part with the part farthest away rather than the neighboring tenor or soprano part)

    3) altos with tenors (ramp up the challenge by combining with a part closer to them, but under them rather than above them)

    4) altos with tenors and basses (now everybody but the sopranos - make the altos feel like their part is the melody - and if I've been doubling parts on piano or organ up to this point, I might even stop playing the alto part here to see if they can sing it unaccompanied - after all they've sung it three - now four - times in a row)

    5) add the sopranos

    Of course, this won't work in all cases, and is just a general outline - but hopefully by following the thinking in my methodology, you may have a few (perhaps better) ideas!
    Thanked by 2Liam Ben Yanke
  • SkirpRSkirpR
    Posts: 854
    Also, this is for something short - like a hymn. I wouldn't teach an entire choral piece like this, but perhaps a nice verse or section of it.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,805
    How is their breathing?

    I had a soprano (in her sixties) whom I could never hear. Now, after working with the choir, and sopranos in particular, on proper breathing and focusing the sound "forward", letting it carry on the breath to project, rather than shouting from the back of the throat a la Broadway, I can hear her quite well - and her intonation has markedly improved as well.
  • I had a similar situation a while back. I came up with an idea that worked within the context of hymnody.

    First, try to select a hymn with a very strong alto line. Second, if you can, physically position the altos slightly in front of the sopranos. If absolutely necessary, try gently and respectfully telling the sopranos to "dial it back a little".

    My experience in organbuilding, with the related knowledge of placement of different ranks of pipes on the chestwork for maximum blend, projection, and effect, has given me some perhaps unusual insights into how to bring certain voices "out" more in different situations.

    Gaudete in Domino Semper!
  • Try working on choir voicing
  • PhatFlute
    Posts: 219
    They can stand in different places than usual. Works.
    Or write e-Mail to sorprano tenor basses, and write to them not to sing on 'Q' and alto will sing louder after confusion. Write to me when this does'nt work.

    Good Luck,
    Ph
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,454
    Great discussion. I've been singing the alto part in choirs by necessity all my life but am really more suited to sing second soprano so I have trouble projecting when the line dips too much below middle C, but being the only alto vs 3 and sometimes more intense sopranos requires that I give it all I've got pretty much all the time.

    However, we've just discovered to our surprise that our 12 y/o daughter is developing a lovely alto voice and can belt out those notes and even down to a F and E below C with no problem. She had until recently been singing soprano but was starting to have trouble with high E's and F's, and her voice teacher says her voice is changing. I'm really thrilled and am hoping she can join me on the alto line now, something which I never expected since altos don't exactly grow on trees but she was there under my nose (actually she's taller than I am now!) all along. : )
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,468
    Breathing is important.

    I tell my ladies to sing like opera divas and I model it. It works for us. They sit up straighter and have a lovely round sound when I suggest this. I also suggest to sing to the risen Christ in a stainglass window above our altar, just beneath the ceiling. This gives them a visual line to a projection point.
  • You're lucky JulieColl.

    Good altos aren't easy to find, and if you've got one growing within "hearth and home", you are blessed indeed!

    Gaudete in Domino Semper!
    Thanked by 1JulieColl
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,334
    Make sure they are looking up at you. And singing outward, not to themselves, and watching the director.make sure they are filling the diaphram with air. Lastly, for more sound have them open their mouths more, more sound will result.
    Also sometimes a weak sound is because they dont know the music, and are tenative.