Prince George Welcomes Dr. Kathryn Whitney for Workshop

Published on October 5, 2015

PRINCE GEORGE - On Friday, September 19, the Prince George Cantata Singers community choir enjoyed a season opener workshop with vocal specialist, Dr. Kathryn Whitney, who also presented a Saturday workshop which drew local choristers from the Cantata Singers,  Nove Voce choir, White Spruce City Chorus, and the newly formed, mixed voice Q-City Choir from Quesnel. These workshops were possible with the help of the BCCF, and were hosted by the Cantata Singers.      

Dr. Kathryn Whitney working with Prince George area choristers

Friday’s session for the PG Cantata Singers, entitled Making a Beautiful Choral Sound, was a journey through letter articulations, and stressed the importance of listening to fellow chorister singing, in order to achieve a balanced tone quality.  Using simple vocal exercises and rounds, Dr. Whitney focused on tongue placements, and creating oral spaces for resonant and relaxed tones. Workshop participants were invited to move while singing, to close eyes in order to become more aware of the singing of fellow choristers, and to watch and listen for melodic, rhythmic, and lyrical patterns in songs.  

In Saturday’s workshop, Healthy Singing For Choristers, Dr. Whitney brought attention to how sound is produced, from throat and mouth, to all the muscles that are involved in musical breathing, sharpening our awareness of the mechanics involved in making beautiful sounds.  Using canonical musical examples such as Dona Nobis Pacem, and the song, Parting Glass, she helped clarify under-standing of the low, middle, and high ranges of the human singing voice. Avoiding vocal fatigue by first communally reading through a song’s words in a natural way before trying to sing it, finding common word stress points, and by silently mouthing words while one section of a choir is rehearsing its part, was recommended.

Dr. Kathryn Whitney working with Prince George area choristers

Dr. Whitney’s detailed knowledge of vocal anatomy, amusing presentation of ways to warm up the body for singing, and expertise in linguistic pronunciations for clear and clean choral sound, were augmented with printed handouts, and constant encouragement.  She kept us listening and laughing, while she challenged, all the while reminding us that the ultimate goal of choral singing is to be able to “sing from the heart”.

The workshops woke up summer sleepy voices, provided some useful tips on taking care of our singing instruments, and helped us brush up on the mechanics of learning new musical pieces for joyful and beautiful community singing. They have given us a strong start to our choral season, and we are grateful to the BCCF for sponsoring them and allowing our area choristers to benefit from Dr. Kathryn Whitney’s inspiring leadership.

Carolyn Kelly

Prince George Canata Singers