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January 14, 2014: Using YouTube

How should a choir director use YouTube with her/his choir? Each Thursday, artistic director David Cherwien shares rehearsal notes with members of the NLC from the previous Tuesday's rehearsal. This week's note is about Berlin's Vocalconsort's recording of a Bach motet.


It was a very productive rehearsal last week. As you probably noticed, my priority in these "earlier weeks" (in quotes because that's soon not going to be the case) has been the Bach. I've noticed that all sections have received the URL for the YouTube Paul Wilson (bass section leader) sent. Normally, I don't encourage this form of learning. It's important for us to make OUR sound, and not just imitate someone else's. This piece is already quite a different experience based on the last time we did it 10 years ago -- the NLC roster has changed so much.

Listening to a recording for learning can be a frustrating thing since we will NOT be what we're hearing on another recording. (For one thing, three on a part is quite different). However, this time I really want to encourage it. Listen for several things (especially in movements 2 and 5): the pronunciation and articulation of the consonants, and how they lean into important syllables. Focus in on the opening "Es / ist / nun / nichts" - they do exactly as I was trying to get you to do with it. Then listen to how they spin off articulated text without losing musical line with the subject at m. 36 and following. Same with the opening of movement V: "Trotz dem alten Drachen" - the vowel for "Trotz" is quite open, "aw" and listen to how they lean into "Drachen" - and perhaps especially listen for the word "Furcht" - the "r" is accomplished more with the arch of the BACK of the tongue without changing the lips or anything else...  

Anyway,  I strongly encourage everyone give it a listen with score in hand - maybe several times if you can. This is an outstanding performance. Do be aware, however, that there would be performance practice police who would find many things "wrong" with it. For our purposes, however, their's is what my ears will be working towards in unifying our performance.