"Going too far helps us understand where the boundaries are. . . . Don't be halfhearted. You can always dial back later. Go too far so you can feel the outer edges of the move, and then work on building the skill with precision."
This has multiple uses:
- Many things a choir does need exaggeration at first—dynamic shapes and all kinds of expression. Then they can be brought back to the desired level of subtlety.
- In teaching a new concept to your choir (let's say the difference between bright and dark sound), an exaggerated example will make the concept clearer—not intellectually, but in concrete terms—faster than anything else. Royal Stanton used a great example: asking your choir to sing a passage as if they were a country western singer . . . then as an operatic basso. It's a quick way to fully understand what you mean. After that the concept can be made more subtle, to the point that your choir knows exactly what you mean when you ask them for a little brighter or darker tone quality.
- Much as mentioned in the earlier post on slowing things down, exaggerating slowness can make certain things much clearer to the choir.
- And in conducting, for yourself or for a student of yours, a new move can be exaggerated until it becomes natural. If you have a particular habit you'd like to change, practice the opposite in an exaggerated way—the new habit (the way you'd like to do it) will feel quite natural fairly soon.
Think of other ways you can exaggerate . . . to get to where you or your choir need to be.