BY ISHA SINGH LE XUE
Singing is a passion for many people, whether as a bathroom solo singer or as part of a larger choir or an A Cappella group. Yet for most people, it is rare to hear of singing lessons the way one might hear about piano, violin and other music lessons. As such, we were very fortunate to have Ms Angelina Choo, founder of The A Cappella Society of Singapore and a trained soprano, teach us basic vocal training.
Despite having been in choir for about 6 years of my life, it was rather enlightening to hear many of the techniques I have been taught from a different perspective, pertaining to A Cappella singing as opposed to choral singing. I found the experience very enriching as she also went on to explain how different pitches were derived from different ‘levels’ of your body, using how singing a G corresponds to the cheekbones area as an example. She also explained how this ‘level’ was different for guys and girls. This was an intriguing concept I wasn’t previously familiar with and it helped explain why it was often so natural to sing an octave above a male line.
Following that, Ms Angie had us participate in a rhythmic exercise where we were arranged in groups of 3 or 4 and each group was to clap, stomp or tap to a different rhythm of our choice to create an interlocking rhythm. As Ms Angie herself mentioned, this is often a difficult exercise and it was exciting when we managed to execute a rather competent round of rhythm!
We then had an entertaining time doing a SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) version of Che Che Koolay, a folk song from Ghana, following her directions. During this time, we had fun discovering many ‘hidden talents’ amongst our fellow batchmates and seniors as amazing bass and beatboxers.
After that, we were instructed to split up into two groups to do our own rendition and edits to Bruno Mars’ “Just The Way You Are” and Jessie J’s “Price Tag”. Although it was a little challenging and not quite as entertaining as an all-out karaoke might have been, it allowed us to begin to explore and understand how A Cappella singing was like and both groups managed to pull together to perform our very own adaptations of the songs.
It was unfortunate that due to a lack of time, some of the singing techniques had to be glossed over and we were not quite given the individual attention that is often required for vocal training or music training in general. However, overall, thanks to the Holistic Development portfolio, we had a fascinating experience and for many of us, it was very much an eye-opener.