Mastersinger Articles

Mastersinger online is available to all our members via the Podium, an online library containing archive articles from abcd's journal Mastersinger, covering repertoire, profiles of choirs and composers and vocal and conducting technique.

Click on the links below to see some sample content

The Conductor's Charisma: Behind the Myth - Liz Garnett

"The requirement that conductors have a quality that is supposedly inborn or bestowed upon only a few extraordinary individuals is an appealing myth, but can be problematic for those of us who would actually be conductors. Most of us had our early musical training as instrumentalists and/or singers, and whilst we may have been told that we were talented, we probably did not aspire to be inspirational. Organists may find the transition more natural - after all, choirmastery is a traditional part of the church musician's job - but, for the rest of us, assuming the identity of conductor forces us either to face this mythology head-on or deliberately to evade it. One has the choice of claiming the powers and feeling arrogant or disclaiming them and feeling like an imposter." Read the full article here.

Viagra for Voice: Older Voice, Younger Sound - Judy Bellingham

"Residents in an old peoples' home or retirement village love being entertained. Of all the art forms, the most popular entertainment focuses on the voice. Elderly people enjoy hearing the sung voice, be it a child's voice or that of a mature choir, the focus is most definitely on the voice. If the song sung is one that resonates with a childhood memory, then the experience is all the more touching for the elderly listener. The voice is the one instrument with which we are born (babies are reported to have the ability cry and scream over a 5 octave range) and with which we die." Read the full article here.

The Choral Warm Ups of Robert Shaw - Dr Pamela Elrod

"Choral music owes much to Robert Shaw. The musical reverberations generated by his extraordinary creative spirit can still be felt today through his recordings, his arrangements, his letters - and his former singers. I consider myself very fortunate to be among those who comprise the latter group. For a period of just over ten years, I was privileged to be able to sing in several ensembles conducted by Shaw. As was the case with so many of my colleagues, his influence on me as a vocalist was profound - but the impact on my career as a choral conductor and music educator was, and is, immeasurable. Surprisingly, one of the areas in my conducting and teaching where his influence was the most significant was in the often-neglected field of the choral warm-up. Where previously in my experience as a choral singer and conductor, the warm-up period - when used at all - was a time devoted only to vocalizing the singers and perhaps practising a harmonic progression using Leh-lee-lah-loh-loo or Al-lelu-ya, with Robert Shaw the warm-up was something else entirely. It was during this brief portion of the rehearsal that his singers developed - in microcosm, if you will - the art of being an ensemble." Access to the full article is available here for abcd members only.

A "Magical Eye" for Musical Blueprints - John Dickson (A guide to score study in two parts)

"There I was, standing in the middle of a crowded shopping mall, gazing cross-eyed at a multicolored image while my son exclaimed, "Come on, Dad, can't you see the 3-D Statue of Liberty?" Later that week I returned to the shop, purchased the Magic Eye book, and retreated to the privacy of my office. After what seemed hours of frustration, I placed the picture against my face. Slowly moving it away without looking specifically at any one pattern, the image opened before my very eyes. Like a three-dimensional shadow box, there stood the great lady in all her Technicolor detail.

So what does this have to do with score study? Only a basic principle-the art work was there all the time; I just did not know how to find it in all the detail. Like going to a 3-D movie without the special glasses, I was looking at the picture, but the images were distorted and blurred. I did not know how to envision the art work." Access to both full articles is available here for abcd members only.

Can you support us?

We hope that you find these new online resources useful and informative! Over the coming months, these resources will be developed and added to, and we hope that this Resource Bank will form a useful glossary of information for all choral leaders. However in light of the ongoing situation with coronavirus and the immediate postponement of our Spring training programme and annual Choral Leaders' Festival abcd, like many other charitable arts organisations, faces a difficult few months. If you feel able to make a donation to help sustain the abcd community of staff and conductor tutors and to support the creation of innovative online resources, we would encourage you to do so here.