Singers Synchronize Heartbeats

“Choir Singers Synchronize Heartbeats:  Singers in a choir unconsciously coordinate their breathing patterns, which leads to synchronized heart rates…

… isn’t it outstanding when science confirms what we have known all along?? …



shakin’ it up (part 1): choirs lead the way to world peace

Imagine:  A biannual summit meeting of the leaders of every country on the planet for the expressed purpose of singing together. World Choir. 196 blending singers.  Surely this would lead to harmony in every sense of the word!  As crazy as it sounds, if anyone could pull that off it would be community choirs.

As the new ACDA R&S Chair for Community Choirs, one of the comments that I heard most consistently at ECCO was the hope for relationship and community among the conductors of community choirs (which, when you think about it, is rather ironic).  We rarely are part of a staff of colleagues providing moral support and discourse, we commonly do not have an institution supporting us, and we are usually the sole vision and direction for our organization.  It can sometimes be rather lonely.  Building a community among us will help fill that relational gap and will yield vibrant, relevant, and accessible concert ideas.

What other issues do we have in common?  We wear too many hats, we don’t have a captive audience but rather must earn our audience, and we seldom have a guaranteed salary year after year. Even so, on the up side we have freedom.  The wheels of change in a large institution move veeeeerrrrrry slowly, but we have the freedom to make changes rather rapidly in our community organizations.  We are in the midst of significant demographic and technological change in our culture, and we are sitting in the middle of a shifting arts sector.  We possess a freedom that allows us the creative elbow room to navigate the demands of the changing environment.

I have been reading the NEA research findings on declining attendance and participation in “spectator oriented creative arts” as well as the James Irvine Foundation/WolfBrown research on the post-modern audience, and I’m contemplating that it may well be the freedom of community choirs that leads the way to change in the choral arts. With few exceptions, the days of vibrant “stand-up-there-in-black-and-sing” choirs are over, and the path ahead hasn’t been paved.  It means that we have the opportunity to be part of shaping this new path!  There certainly are successful choral groups that maintain that traditional presentation style, but the ones that are thriving—as opposed to merely surviving—seem to be the excellent few that have an established audience for a particular niche or specialty (i.e. new music premiers, renaissance singers, madrigal groups), or the professional level groups in large cities (i.e. Chanticleer, Kansas City Chorale, LA Master Chorale).  However, generally, even their core audience is aging and is not being replaced (not my opinion, simply research… don’t shoot the messenger here, ok?). As choral conductors, if we want to pass on the extraordinary legacy of the choral canon, perhaps we should consider additional modi operandi.

What are the possibilities??

(Part 2…. coming in August!)