As you make your way down the sunny 9th floor hallway, the hum of young voices can often be heard emanating from the Choral Studio. This was the case on Thursday, October 12, as Class 4 singers warmed up their vocal cords with Middle School music teacher Patricia Norchi.
Beginning with a physical warmup, the 16 singers took a big breath before stretching their hands up high and shaking them out down their sides. Other movements included the gentle rolling of their shoulders and dropping of their chins to their chests before moving their necks from side to side.
Continuing to their vocal warmup, Ms. Norchi instructed the girls to engage in breathing and humming exercises. Following this, they sang short melodic motives with varying vowels while ascending or descending the scale by half steps. “Some of our goals are to develop pure intonation, how to sing on the breath, building a core sound and energizing sound through physical gesture,” Ms. Norchi explained.
Singing proudly, the students practiced the solfege scale, the eight syllable (do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do) music education method used to teach vocal technique, musical memory, ear training and more. The singers also performed the hand movements that correlated to each syllable to rehearse using their body and voice in unison.
After a strong and galvanizing warm-up, the girls transitioned to mastering two- and three-part harmonies. “What does it mean if I hold my hand out flat?” asked Ms. Norchi, demonstrating the motion.
“That means you hold the note,” one student correctly stated.
“If you feel like you’re running out of air – breathe! – but come back in on the same note,” Ms. Norchi reminded.
Sitting up straight, the students’ melodic voices began to fill the studio, with their teacher peppering in compliments over the tune. “I hear two parts! Great job!”
Moving to their next song, “I Love the Mountains,” students requested that each row (three in total) sing their own part. “All right, let’s give it a try!” Ms. Norchi encouraged, noting that she would cue in each row. Instructing the class to stand up tall, Ms. Norchi added, “Let’s see how our sound changes when we’re using our full body.”
The students effortlessly sang in harmony, much to their teacher’s delight. The girls were also mindful of dynamic and tempo changes within the song, musical phrases and pitch matching.
The third song the fourth graders sang was “I Will Sing My Song,” a beautiful two-part tune accompanied by Ms. Norchi on the piano.
“You sound so beautiful!” their teacher gushed. “I love the strong focus on your words and projecting your voices.” After singing through the piece twice, Ms. Norchi invited volunteers to sing a three to four line solo for the class.
Several hands shot into the air and each soloist sang with confidence, energy and proper breath control. Classmates watched each singer attentively and gave a mighty round of applause when she finished.
“All of these beautiful voices come together to make such wonderful music,” Ms. Norchi praised. (She also assured those who wanted to sing a solo but didn’t get a chance that there would be another opportunity next class.) “Great job today, I’ll see you next week!”