V.com weekend vote: Have you sung in a choir?

March 26, 2022, 9:11 PM · I know, this is a violin website, not a singing website! But when in comes to music, oftentimes the first way we express ourselves musically is through the instrument that is built right into us: the voice.

This week I attended a concert by the Los Angeles Master Chorale - I went to see violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, who was playing Morton Lauridsen's "O Magnum Mysterium" with them. This extremely high-level choir, singing capella, produced a gorgeous cushion of sound that was a lot like a full orchestra, with Meyers as the soloist.

Anne Akiko Meyers LA Master Chorale
Anne Akiko Meyers performs with the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Photo by Jamie Pham.

Singing in a choir can feel pretty similar to playing in an orchestra, in that it allows the individual to a part of a larger group, making music while surrounded by it.

I've never been a great singer, but as a child I sang (and whistled) all the time. It didn't really occur to me to try to be in a choir, although I certainly noticed and enjoyed the choir at church. My sister sang in a children's choir, and so I went to those concerts as well.

During my last year of high school, I tried out for the choir. While I don't have a super-strong voice, I can sing in tune. The choir director let me in, but I later suspected an agenda when that year he scheduled a medley from "Fiddler on the Roof," Mozart's "Laudate Dominum" - suddenly the choir was singing a lot of music that suspiciously required a violinist! But I was very happy to be a part of the choir, whether singing in it or playing the violin.

As an adult, I have never formally sung in a choir, but I've played in the orchestra for countless choir performances, and the power of so many voices together always moves me.

What is your experience with choir? Have you ever sung in one? Have you sung in many different choirs? How has singing influenced your playing? Have you played as an instrumentalist in choir concerts? Please choose the answer that best matches your experience, and then tell us your thoughts about it in the comments.

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Replies

March 27, 2022 at 02:57 AM · I sang in my school choir in 3rd through 7th grades, and I used to sing a lot for fun as a kid. I don't have motivation for singing anymore.

March 27, 2022 at 03:50 AM · I sang in a college choir, and later sang in medical school and law school a cappella groups. I actually have more vocal than string training, though both are mostly self-taught.

I've both sung in choirs performing with orchestras, and also played viola in orchestras performing with choirs, and done both a fair number of times -- in fact I've now both played and sung The Messiah so many times that I can now sing the bass part from memory while playing the viola part in some of the choruses.

March 27, 2022 at 10:42 AM · Similar to Andrew's answer - I've sung in many choirs of various kinds, ranging from 12 voice madrigal/early music group to 60+ choruses in big works. Latterly I took singing training more seriously, learning lieder and 'art songs' among other things, and taking exams.

March 27, 2022 at 12:47 PM · I started singing in choirs in elementary school, continued on through graduate school, and then professionally. My violin teachers always encouraged my singing, as they felt it helped in understanding how to blend, recognizing different clefs, learning proper breathing, and a host of other great skills. Choral singing has been one of the great joys of my life!

March 27, 2022 at 03:35 PM · The closest to my experience was "I've sung in many choirs", but the truth is, I've sung in less than a handful, "high school" (including once as an alumnus), church, and ad hoc. At school and as a younger adult, I sang bass, but nowadays I sing tenor (although occasionally my voice fails and I have to use falsetto), because that's where, at my level of choir, the shortage always is (including my school's 450th anniversary, when it was not string players that were short, but tenors!). On one visit to my parents, there was one choral society concert when I was told "Orchestra is fully rehearsed, but you can sing if you like". I found I could not hear the seconds, so half way through the dress rehearsal I talked my way into that section (Messiah - I wouldn't have been so confident if it had been e.g., Grand Messe Des Morts!). I've played in quite a number of choral works, and in a handful of operas/operettas.

I was auditioned for Canterbury Choir School as a child, but failed to get in on the quality of my voice, and, broken, it's still not good enough for a really good choir. My cellist brother is a better singer all round than I am; and the way he uses his knowledge of singing brings him up to professional standard as a continuo player.

March 27, 2022 at 04:03 PM · I've sung in a number of church choirs, but my experience is similar to yours, Laurie, in that I can sing in tune, and that is my main strength as a singer. I don't have a strong voice, and I have a very limited range. I can't really sing high enough to be a good soprano or low enough to be a good alto; I've tried both of those parts and I feel that I add something to the group when I do, I blend well, but am not a soloist. (Kind of like how I am as an instrumentalist, for that matter). More often I've played violin or viola to accompany choirs, and I enjoy that more than I do trying to sing. I like the flavor and power of big choral pieces like requiems and masses in the same way I am moved by symphonies.

March 27, 2022 at 11:09 PM · I've sung in 2 church choirs, very rewarding experience. In fact, this morning we sang "The Prayer of the Children" (men's 8-piece choir a cappella) as a special prayer for people of war-torn Ukraine, especially the children. Very moving experience.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI6SlqIUG4s

http://www.kurtbestor.com/story-behind-prayer-of-the-children

March 28, 2022 at 11:44 AM · High School. I learned quite a bit. I still sing these days, not in a choir though.

March 29, 2022 at 08:29 PM · I sang in the local church choir when I was very young, but I checked "No, but I've sung in a band" because that's what I'm doing these days. Specifically, I sing in bluegrass jams (along with playing fiddle and mandolin). One regular bluegrass group I play in has built a repertoire, and we nail the vocal parts: 3-part harmonies, even some a capella. Sometimes I even yodel.

There are hardly any singing parts in our orchestra's repertoire, although we did one piece that had German lyrics printed on the score which I would quietly sing during rehearsals.

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