[Perform-Talk] Questions about Stage Presence and Choral Performance

Cricket Bidleman cricketbidleman at gmail.com
Tue Aug 2 16:41:21 UTC 2016

Thanks so much to everyone for your advice. It's very helpful, and
I'll definitely try everything until I find something that works for
me. Thanks so much!

On 8/2/16, Katelyn MacIntyre <katelynmacmusic at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi Cricket!
> Welcome to the list! I believe we also met at the airport in Florida. That's
> wonderful you will be in choirs this year! I have sung in choirs for almost
> 20 years in several countries, and I absolutely love the collaboration and
> beauty that can only be achieved by choral music. Usually one of the first
> questions a conductor will ask me when singing with a choir or soloing with
> an orchestra is "can you see my hands at all?" After assuring them it's not
> going to matter how close I stand to them, I usually tell them that I will
> just breathe with the rest of the choir or the conductor themselves if in a
> solo setting. This has never been a problem for me. Generally, the entire
> choir, or at least your section – soprano, alto, etc. – will start the
> phrase together, and thus must breathe together beforehand. It's rather easy
> to listen to the people around you breathing, and even if you come in a
> split second after they do, no one will be able to tell. I've never tried
> having the conductor count before, but that definitely seems like a
> reasonable accommodation if you are comfortable with that, though I can see
> how that may be distracting and take away from the ambience of the piece.
> Hopefully the above suggestion might be helpful to you. You could even ask
> the person next to you to slightly lean against your arm when the conductor
> is making their prepatory gesture so you have more time to prepare your
> breath. Of course, this is primarily for a cappella pieces. When there is
> accompaniment that begins before the singers come in, you should have no
> problem knowing when your entrance is based on memorization of this in
> rehearsals.
> As far as hand gestures, dancing, movement etc., I would first ask your
> teacher to be as verbal as possible when explaining the movements the choir
> is supposed to do as she teaches them. If it's not clear what something is,
> I usually ask to put my hands/arms over someone else's to feel what they are
> doing rather than having someone try to manipulate my body not knowing what
> the ultimate goal is. This could be the teacher or even the student next to
> you if they understand the movement. If there are still questions, you could
> ask the teacher to show you the dance/gestures at another time when you can
> have more one-on-one attention if you feel they are going to fast in the
> regular rehearsal, or maybe even ask a friend to clarify some things.
> Everyone has their own method of learning movement, so you may find that
> somethings work better for you than others. Remember that you will most
> likely not be the only one new to movement on stage though, so don't be
> afraid to ask questions!
> As far as stage presence, I'm sure there are many opinions and much advice
> on how to get more confident, but first I would say just be yourself. If it
> makes you feel more comfortable, and you are performing at your school or
> somewhere in town, you can get some time on the stage before hand to be
> comfortable with the layout, risers, etc. As you sing and act the songs,
> think about the text and lyrics – what are you singing about? What is the
> emotion in mood of the piece? This will help you portray stage presence
> already as you present an attitude in alignment with the music you're
> singing. Good posture and self-confidence are always helpful. Don't forget
> to flex/slightly bend your knees though! Just enjoy making music with the
> people around you. If the song is joyful, smile! If it is somber, think
> about the depth of the text. That's where it all begins. Sorry if that
> sounds a bit vague, but I hope it is helpful in someway.
> Please feel free to contact me with any more questions or to clarify
> anything I've said. I look forward to hearing what others may contribute as
> well. Warmest Regards,
> ~Katelyn MacIntyre
> www.facebook.com/KatelynMacMusic
> Vice President, National Federation of the Blind Performing Arts Division
>> On Aug 1, 2016, at 7:22 PM, Cricket Bidleman via Perform-talk
>> <perform-talk at nfbnet.org> wrote:
>> Hello All,
>> Apologies for the blank message. It sent before I could write
>> anything. I love technology but sometimes ...
>> Anyway, just a quick intro because I haven't done one yet. I'm Cricket
>> Bidleman. I'm starting my senior year of high school later this month.
>> I live in Morro Bay, California, which is halfway between San Diego
>> and San Francisco. Almost no one has heard of it ... We did get an
>> honorable mention in "Finding Dory" though.
>> I'm emailing because I had some questions about choral performance. I
>> will be in my school's Concert Choir and Chamber Choir this year. I've
>> never been in a choir before, so I was hoping some of you could
>> provide some advice. In the past, I have been in orchestras and
>> things, and my music teacher would always count the beat of each song
>> for me right before we performed it. Is there a way to bypass this? I
>> noticed that some of the judges in our music competitions weren't so
>> happy with this, and although it's a perfectly fair accommodation, I
>> have to wonder if there's a better way to do things. What do y'all
>> think?
>> Also, Chamber Choir sometimes does some dancing with their music. Have
>> any of you had experience with this? I'm an absolutely atrocious
>> dancer. While I could have someone move my arms in the required
>> positions and stuff, this seems a little bit unnecessary and odd, and
>> I'm sure there's a way to get around that.
>> Stage presence is so important, even in music. I have, however, had no
>> experience whatsoever with acting or singing in a choir, so do any of
>> you have any tips on stage presence as it relates to a choir? I'm so
>> excited to be getting some fresh perspectives on this. Thanks! Feel
>> free to email me on or off list.
>> Best,
>> Cricket Bidleman
>>> On 8/1/16, Cricket Bidleman <cricketbidleman at gmail.com> wrote:
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