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The Fortissimo Guide

The Authorised Guide to Thriving in Our Choir!
with thanks to Hammerstein and Rogers… (who would surely have written in Italian if they could!)

How do you find the word that means Fortissimo?

WHAT WE ARE…

  • Fortissimo is a Community Choir that welcomes participants from all walks of life, all codes, all creeds, all levels of ability.
  • Fortissimo is part workshop / part choir, so there's a strong element of listening and thinking as we learn our songs.
  • Be prepared to take your music delightfully seriously!
  • We delight in all things Italian.
  • Most of all, we LOVE TO SING! Evviva!!
  • Fortissimo is the most fun you'll have singing in Italian this side of the Po Valley, St Peters, The Love Boat or Melbourne.

 

How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?

WHAT WE ARE NOT…

  • Fortissimo is not an auditioned choir, BUT it's not a pool party either!
  • We don’t have grand expectations of flawless musicianship, but equally, we’re not afraid of taking on some challenging repertoire from time to time.
  • Don’t expect a complete walk in the park – Fortissimo repertoire is not predictable.
  • We don’t wear catwalk-ready uniforms and we don’t do choralography (in fact, we dance pretty badly - thank heavens for our voices!)
  • We don’t want hundreds of members, although we do want healthy numbers to support a diverse repertoire – we don’t just sing unison or 2-part music.
  • Fortissimo isn’t a dating service (but we’ve seen lots of great friendships form).
  • Fortissimo isn’t just about singing in Italian – we're more of an antipasto choir, a musical minestra, with Italian language at it's cuore.
  • We don’t do lots of glossy concerts, but we have about 4 ‘showings’ every year, with one rip-snorter of an hysterically funny Xmas concert!

 

How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

MAINTAINING OUR HARMONIES…

  • Great posture is where it all starts!
  • Efficient breathing and vocal loveliness go hand in hand (ask your Choir Leader about the Silent Breath of the Ancients!)
  • Understanding the secret life of vowels and consonants helps maximize the resonance and carrying power of your voice.
  • Ear-training exercises are music games that magically increase musicality and confidence!

RESPECT FOR OUR FELLOW CHORISTERS

  • Respect others’ views, skills, experience, and cultural background.
  • Please be yourself, but also be mindful that what's ‘tom-ah-to to you may be tom-ay-to (or ketchup, salsa, pomodoro, ragu) to someone else. 
  • Have fun, be high-spirited, but also be conscious that the liberal use of expletives can cause real discomfort in community settings.  Let’s keep our language creative, rather than habitual (and thereby save our profanities for being truly powerful tools of communication!)
  • Good communication is two-way, and we need to attune our words and actions to respect the wonderful diversity of our choir community.

RESPECT FOR OUR CHORAL LEADER!

  • Your fearless leader can't lead, teach and guide while people are talking or moseying around!!!

REMEMBER, IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC

  • Choirs are communities, and communities become 'family', but while we're rehearsing the music comes first!
  • We love our 'break time' where we share fruit, lollies, cakes, talk, plan Fortissimo weekends away, then it’s straight back into the music.

TAKING CARE OF CHOIR MEMBERS

  • New members are often nervous - not sure if they can read music well enough, sing in-tune enough... So make them welcome – we are all learning and growing together.
  • Help out if you think new members need a hand, but don’t smother them – give them space to settle into their own rhythm.
  • Be supportive, understanding, constructive and cooperative (we do that really well!) – because even long-time Fortissimists need a hand from time to time!

 

The happiest sound in all the world!

THE 4 HUMS OF SINGING IN A CHOIR

1.     Humanity

Celebrate everyone’s unique contribution, and value your own best efforts.  Together we make Fortissimo sound bigger and better through the sheer pleasure of making music with others.

2.     Humility

Singing is all about listening!  If we focus too much on our own sound, we stop being part of the song.  If we only hear the other harmonies, we’re being too quiet. And if we only hear our own part, we’re being too loud!  Sing as a team, and keep watching your choral leader to find out when to be pianissimo, mezzo-forte, or fortissimo!

3.     Humour

Learning music ISN’T funny!  But making music is a whole LOT OF FUN!!  Give over to your ears, and let the harmonies take you on a magical mystery tour.  There’s a load of laughs along the learning curve, as we unlearn, unknow, and pray for serendipity while attempting to sight-read…

4.     Humungous desire to learn the music (there are many ways - ask Nadia!)

Knowledge is power, and knowing the music helps drive the shape and colour of our songs.  Learn the music as soon as you can (and the words!), then we can play with dynamics and sound.  The power of our musical knowledge will shine through, and it’s SO SATISFYING when we get it really right!