How To Find Your Unique Voice While Singing In Harmony
Joining a choir does not mean forfeiting you individuality. In fact, at the Australian Girls Choir, it is quite the opposite.
The key difference between singing as a soloist and singing in a choir is that group singing requires excellent listening skills. When singing in a choir, particularly when vocal harmonies are used, there is the capacity to achieve greater complexity in an overall sound by utilising the unique strengths in each chorister’s voice – something that cannot be achieved alone! So how does the AGC develop individuals while focussing on the greater good of the group? Read on to find out, or see for yourself at June Open Day!
The Unique Reasons People Join
Naturally, not every girl who joins the AGC has a dream to be a professional musician. However, there are some girls who can imagine nothing other than a career in performing arts. It is therefore our privilege to encourage and support all choristers, regardless of where they sit in their individual musical journeys.
For many of our junior@agc choristers, joining the choir stems simply from a love of singing and the opportunity to exercise that passion with girls the same age once a week. Six year old twins, Harper and Willow, reflect on singing a nursery rhyme in the car as the moment their mum asked them if they wanted to join choir. Without their knowledge, the two are now extending and developing that natural love of singing into a skill with the guidance of the AGC’s fun and dynamic curriculum.
“My favourite thing at AGC is dancing, playing and singing” – Harper, Piccolo chorister
“Quite simply, she loves singing, but one-on-one singing lessons could never give her what the AGC can: fun, friendships, performance opportunities, role models, female solidarity and the sheer realisation of the powerful magic you create when you work as a team.” – Daniela Andrews, VIC Parent
Beyond AGC, our Alumni have gone on to pursue incredible career paths both within and outside of the arts. What they hold in common though, are the same transferrable skills developed from their time as a chorister: leadership, teamwork, resilience and confidence.
The Rich Tapestry of Personalities and Sound
Whether she is shy and needs a nurturing environment to build her confidence, or already feels at ease in the spotlight, the AGC is inclusive of all personalities and the unique contribution they make to the choir. It is about accepting the differences of fellow choristers as strengths that benefit everyone.
“Our daughter has been with AGC for 5 years now and it has been wonderful to see her grow from a shy little girl into a confident young woman who just loves to perform in front of an audience with her AGC peers.” – Claire Mitchelmore, Emma’s Mum
Creating a blend and balance of voices and personalities is what makes the choir interesting, both visually and aurally, and allows the girls to develop their ability to co-exist harmoniously. Like participation in a team sport, being in a choir relies on the contributions of individuals to be successful as a collective. It is the conductor’s job to manage the negotiations between the needs of the group as a whole, and those of its individual members.
“At the AGC we try to recognise the strengths of individuals within a group and what that person can contribute to the sound, the choreography or the overall energy of a class or performance. We then encourage the choristers not to make comparisons but learn from and celebrate what we see in others.” – Laura Knowling, AGC Associate Artistic Director
As AGC choristers develop their vocal skills and musicality, advanced part-singing is integrated into the Senior Performance Groups’ curriculum. To be able to achieve part-singing, choristers participate in a Voice Placement class to assess their range and vocal quality. From here, choristers are then allocated a vocal part for the year – Soprano 1 or 2 or Alto 1 or 2. Knowing what vocal part of each individual is useful for our choristers and Tutors to better understand and utilise the individual voices within the group, before establishing their collective sound.
While everyone at AGC works together to achieve the shared goal of delivering spectacular concert performances, opportunities exist for girls to develop and extend their existing strengths or future potential along the way. This can include developing leadership skills, resilience, sense of identity, public speaking skills and more. In a formalised sense, this can include leadership roles, participation in specialist dance or vocal groups, or being selected as a soloist at concerts or gigs.
“A home school student, Hannah has enjoyed the friendship and performance aspects of the AGC team. The leadership by staff offers inspiration and is valuable role modelling, and the program itself builds skills, confidence and comfort within her own skin. It is a positive influence in her formative years.” – Liz Layard, ACT Parent