Learn to Sing Like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Singing in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is a goal of so many. It takes skill—some are born with it—and training. That's where Rebecca Wilberg comes in. She holds two bachelor's degrees in music from ASU and a PhD in Musicology and Choral Music from BYU. As vocal coach for the Choir, she works closely with prospective members who have been accepted into the Temple Square Chorale, the training ensemble of the Choir. She does individual vocal assessments for each new Chorale member before that member begins rehearsals. She is a member of the faculty of the Choir School and teaches vocal technique during those classes. She gains further insight into her duties by singing in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. She is married to the Choir's music director, Mack Wilberg. (Former Choir director Jerold Ottley's wife JoAnn also served as a vocal coach to the Choir and as a member of the Choir School faculty.)
Recently, Wilberg was featured in a Groupon article titled Seven Singing Tips from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. In the article she shared her advice on common mistake singers make, warming up, stage fright, and singing in the correct range. Below are the seven tips from the article:
Sit or Stand Up Straight
Wilberg always advises her singers to “think about their muscles the way an athlete would.” Singing is easier while maintaining a straight posture, and a common mistake among beginners is to “sit down and slouch.”
Warm Up Your Muscles
The diaphragm and larynx are the two most important body parts for singing, and both must be warmed up at the start of any singing session. “My very favorite exercise is called the raspberry,” said Wilberg, and it should come naturally to anyone familiar with playground antics.
To blow a raspberry, seal your upper lip to your tongue and blow air out the bottom. This pulls out the tongue, vibrates it, and releases the muscles. You may feel silly doing this, but Wilberg assured us that “when you’re done, you can sing much higher or lower notes than you thought.”
Don’t Push Your Voice Too Hard
Instead of mimicking your favorite American Idol contestant, Wilberg recommended looking to Christmas carolers for inspiration. “They just sing with nice, light voices, but they all blend together.” In other words, they don’t push too hard.
So how can you avoid straining yourself? For starters, check to make sure your tongue isn’t too high. “If it’s very, very high,” Wilberg said, “you’re probably trying to [belt it out], and that’s not so good.” Make sure your tongue stays low by blowing out some hot air, just like you’re fogging a mirror—Wilberg calls this the “hot-air position.”
Find the remaining singing tips with the full Groupon article.
Watch this video of the Choir warming up before a big concert.