The wise musicians are those who play what they can master.
"Patrick is an outstanding teacher and musical coach who has worked in the USA, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, Australia, and Israel."
- Peter May, World Harmony Council
Coaching choirs, choruses, and ensembles is some of my most favorite work. It's so much fun to meet a group and help it to become better. Choral coaching is very different from choral conducting or directing, of course. As a choral conductor/director/director, I am "too close" to the performance and sometimes will miss things that an outside person might notice. As a coach, I become the outside eyes and ears for the conductor/director and can help him/her bring the group up to the desired level.
Choral coaching is a systematic approach to improving and enhancing a singing group's performance ability. It encompasses assisting in the improvement of basic singing skills, as well as the overall concepts of musicianship, performance ability, and the delivery of a successful and highly entertaining performance. In short, choral coaching is the most effective way of ensuring strong "choral development" of a group.
For a singing group to truly improve its singing and performance ability, it must develop a long-term education plan. A long-term education plan requires improvement in four areas: Vocal Techniques, Musicianship, Stage Presence, and Choreography. And, for this plan to be most effective, it must include a program of consistent, regular coaching, as the "outside" eyes and ears of a choral coach always see and hear different things than does the conductor/director/director. Thus, the end result of consistent coaching is the best possible rendition of a song in front of an audience.
Before beginning an education and coaching program, each group must assess its abilities in each of the four areas of choral singing. These are, once again, Vocal Techniques, Musicianship, Stage Presence, and Choreography. And, while many conductor/directors are able to sit back and evaluate their groups, the "outside" eyes and ears of a choral coach are often able to see and hear things that a conductor/director might otherwise miss. Therefore, when a group decides it is ready to launch an education program, we recommend that group invite me in to conduct an Assessment Session.
In the Assessment Session, I will: 1) listen to your group perform two or three songs of contrasting styles, 2) provide suggestions for developing and implementing a long-term education program. Most importantly, through some basic exercises I will show immediate results to the group, and will provide the desire withineach singer to see the group develop a long-term education plan.
Naturally, as each group's needs are different, no two groups will require the same amount of work in any one area as another group willin that same area. Naturally, too, groups with more highly advanced singers may progress at a more rapid rate. But that should not discourage less advanced groups. Coaching will show improvement in groups of every level, and all groups will greatly benefit from ongoing coaching.
Since each of the four areas in the education plan builds on the others, I generally begin by introducing the basics of good singing in the initial Vocal Techniques sessions. As the choir improves its singing ability, I begin to introduce other aspects of the vocal craft, which brings about improvement in overall Musicianship. Additionally throughout the plan, work on Stage Presence and Choreography are also on-going, with the result being sustained, and consistent, growth.
Improvement is also dependent on the degree of difficulty of the music a group is attempting to master. Those working on very difficult or complex music will find that improvement may be slower than those singing "lighter" or easier music. All musical styles will benefit from coaching, but groups should be realistic in their expectations, based on 1) the ability of the group, and 2) the difficulty of the material to be worked upon.
Once a group has made the decision to explore an education plan and choral coaching, I recommend promptly scheduling the Assessment Session.Following the Assessment Session, I will provide a comprehensive outline of recommendations detailing the steps I suggest your group should follow to achieve its desired improvement. I will meet with your conductor/director and/or the leadership team of your group to discuss my recommendations and, after allowing a week or so for your group to digest these, I will help you craft an action plan.
The end result is a team approach towards improving your choir. We all – individual singers, conductor/director, leadership team,and me – work together to build your group into the best singing ensemble possible. By working as a team, I help you achieve your goals, so you can have a whole lot more fun singing together.
Because, let's face it … it's a lot more fun to sing and perform well. Contact me and let's work out a plan for your group.
"We of the Irish Association of Barbershop Singers are very familiar with Patrick's expertise as a vocal coach and teacher. We were pleased to award him Honorary Life Membership in the Association in 1999 for his work and commitment to IABS. He is an excellent musical coach and teacher who has taught at most of our workshops and Harmony Colleges."
– Eithne Mooney, IABS Past Chairperson
"Patrick's workshops are interesting, thrilling and very successful for the chorus and conductor/director alike. We all feel that a lot of material has been internalized in a very short time, and that the new techniques will remain with us for good. They are now being employed whenever we sing - in concerts and in rehearsals."
– Boaz Kabilio, Musician and Choir Conductor
"Another service Patrick offers is a Concert Evaluation. This provided us with a deep and encompassing critique about everything that took place during our concert, from both the musical and the stage performance viewpoints. There is no doubt in my mind that this report will greatly assist me and my choir in achieving new heights of artistic excellence."
– Tzvi Sherf, Musician and Choir Conductor
I conduct a classical choir so did not think that stage presence or choreography entered into our performance. How wrong I was! Patrick introduced simple concepts that really improved our concert performances. These made the concerts much more satisfying for our audiences - and - for our singers as well.
– Zoli Frank, Musician and Choir Conductor Akron Ohio