Feeling flat (it’s tough to be in the soprano section)


When you practice two hours a day and still hear nothing but criticism for your efforts, you know you are in the soprano section of a choir. Regardless of how much work you personally do, you are going to hear the criticism for your whole section if others are not pulling their weight, or if you just so happen to be going wrong without your knowledge.

It is hard to be part of a group in this sense. I just got back from a choir practice where our director was on the point of losing his temper over the pitching of the sopranos, which apparently goes flat at the end of each phrase on some of the pieces. I am using every trick in the book: breath support, keeping a straight back, raising the eyebrows, shaping the vowel just so, and still all we get is crticism!!!

One of the things that I find most annoying, as a member of this section is the fact that the other sections never hear any real criticism, and so they think they are doing great, which is hardly the case. In an all tenor and bass movement of the requiem we are currently rehearsing, they were really not tuning it well and yet they received no criticism.

Because of this situation, our section gets mocking comments and we see the others smirking as we get critcised again. I have heard a tenor say, “sopranos are always flat, tenors never go wrong.” But tenors do go wrong and I can hear it very clearly at times. I just think that for some reason sopranos are unfairly picked on!

After all, we are singing a part along with three other parts, and those parts are supporting our notes with their harmony. Is it possible that our top line is the one that most audibly makes a mistake and the rest of them get away with it? Or are sopranos just bad singers?

I am really frustrated about this issue again and it is not the first time. I wish someone could offer some useful advice on how to navigate this situation because it is really making me feel flat!!!

4 comments on “Feeling flat (it’s tough to be in the soprano section)”

  1. First and foremost, I am thankful for your perspective within your choir. I lead a small (very small in comparison to the size of choir you describe) choir at my parish. For me it’s odd to hear such criticism being dealt to your section. Are you in a competition choir or something? Or is it during a service? Again, I am grateful for your perspective within your choir. I do not know what it is like having such a vast array of voices to work with. I’m hardly ever fortunate to have enough for a true SATB choral experience. I understand that I don’t have the top notch voices in my choir, but all I ask of them is to simply sing. Keep posting your thoughts and insights! God Bless!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Joey. Thanks so much for your lovely comment. I am part of a choir about 100 strong which does performances to paying audiences with ticket prices that are not cheap, so there can be a lot of pressure to maintain high standards. The ticket prices are high because we pay large fees for soloists and the orchestras we use. The choir itself is a charitable not-for-profit organisation. We are not a competition choir but we are auditioned amateurs that are expected to be able to sightread music. We perform a classical, baroque and sacred music repertoire. Your choir sounds like a pleasure to be a member of, and I really appreciate the comments of a choir director. Thanks so much for the encouragement for writing and I will certainly continue to post my thoughts. I would love to hear your feedback from the perspective of a director, regardless of what type of choir you lead.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What an awesome opportunity! It sounds exciting, at times stressful, but highly rewarding when a piece is performed perfectly. Well done being selected for that choir!

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s