These are basics for any singer and should be main requirements for Choir Directors who audition for members… Other things can come later.

1. Singers must be able to sing on key. If you can’t sing on key, then just forget it. You can’t join a choir. A serious minded one anyway. The key is the foundation of music. This rule cannot be excused away. Never accept someone who can’t recognize key. They will frustrate the team. You can send them to be trained but don’t take them into the choir. All your rehearsal efforts will be wasted in performance. And its not a demonic attack. You just took in a musical Jonah into your boat. Harsh but true.

2. Hearing must be on point. The singer must be able to follow chord progressions, recognize key changes and be able to reproduce notes at the right tone.

3. Singers must not and cannot sing off-note. If the melody of the song is m:f:s:s:d:d, the singer shouldn’t sing r:m:s:s:d:d

4. A singer should know his or her vocal range and should be able to sing his or her part to any given song. If an alto singer doesn’t know the difference between alto and tenor, rehearsal will be war because he or she will be cross carpeting without knowing and you know how frustrating this can be with time wasted as well.

5. A singer should be able to sing other parts when needed to. Being a soprano doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to sing alto or tenor which leads me to number 6.

6. A singer should be able to invert and switch parts effortlessly. He or she should understand the principles of inversion. How in a basic song where soprano sings the melody and others sing according to their natural vocal ranges, if a one-level switch occurs, sopranos go to tenor, tenors sing alto and the alto singers start singing the melody.

7. Singers should be able to modulate rightly without going off. At least be able to do the normal semitone and fulltone modulations then we can go to other types later.

8. A real singer cannot sing offbeat. Recognizing time signature, understanding grooves, knowing how to follow cues are basic for any singer. Singing off beat must never be explained away. Its a serious disease that can affect choirs performance. Understand metronome, know how to follow the hi-hat and the kick.

9. A singer must understand his or her voice. Be able to sing not too low and not too high. We shouldn’t easily hear the limit of your voice. Singing and having all the veins show and straining your voice isn’t so good. Understand your midrange and the sweet spot in your voice.

10. A singer must have accompanying expressions to any song. Each song has its own temperament. You take up the temperament of the song to effectively deliver the message. You don’t impose yours on the song. Express the song well. Don’t just sing. Music is nothing without emotions.

11. A singer should be able to score songs well and in time. Except your choir still does old school, I don’t think anyone should be accepted in a choir if he or she can’t listen to a song, score the part or the lead and deliver it excellently. If you can’t score at least 2 songs in a week, you’re still a lazy singer- my opinion. Song scoring is just too easy even for a banker. Scoring songs isn’t as tedious as we think. There are principles to scoring songs in less time.

12. A singer should have a rich music library ranging form old basics to new school. The library must cover all genres. This makes for a balanced and well-versed singer. You can’t be a serious singer and you don’t have songs. That means you’re tool-less and toothless. How so you refresh? How do you learn? I listen to everything from Hip Hop to Highlife to Apala to Rock to Negro spirituals. Balance is key. The music world is bigger than your favorite genre.

If you want to up your game in your choir you shouldn’t go below these 12 rules. From experience they are the basics. Riffs and runs can come later. Riffs are useless when the singer can’t sing on key. All other assorted vocal techniques are like condiments in a food. The food and the salt are the basics. Your voice is the food. These 12 rules are the salt.

Tommy Tush


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