What’s my part? An interview with Jo Annemans

There are two kinds of choir singers. Some of us are the shy one. We love singing in a group, but we don’t want to be heard too much. We don’t consider ourselves musicians, and we don’t know how to prepare or learn music on our own. In every concert, there are those two measures in that one song that we just don’t sing because they’re too hard. We just move our mouths and hope that our neighbors will manage those notes without us.

And some of us are the musicians, the confident ones, the divas. We audition for solos. We wait for our moment to shine. We love it when the director says our section is too quiet. And we wonder why our fellow singers always suggest, carefully, that we’re too loud.

Jo Annemans is in his element working with both of them. In his workshops (for vocal groups, choirs, or just gatherings of singers) he combines his approximately 20 years of experience singing with Belgian vocal group Voice Male and his day job as a therapist to teach the psychology of group singing. Most of all, he wants to teach singers how to listen. How does my part fit into the overall arrangement? What do my notes mean for the song in this moment? How does my vocal line interact with the others? What’s happening behind the solo?

Jo teaches several kinds of workshops for singers. Some involve learning one of his arrangements just to practice listening skills. Another involves arranging on the spot through improvisation and listening. And for vocal groups and choirs, he also offers individual master classes and coachings.

So what can singers get out of a workshop with Jo? One thing he always tries to do is give singers personal attention without making them feel uncomfortable. A shy singer can become more confident about their voice and start to feel more comfortable with every note they sing. And confident singers can learn how to listen more and understand how they fit into the group’s overall sound. In the end, both types of singers walk away knowing that they all share equal responsibility and value in the choir, and they find joy in realizing: we did this together, and everybody was in it.

Get more info about Jo on his website: www.joannemans.be

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