Misericordias Domini – Part I

As I mentioned in our overview of this year’s repertoire, Austin and I had hoped that some year this piece would be chosen! (yeah, we are big nerds….) This piece has been a major favorite with all our students and lots of camps covered it. It’s designated for Area auditions but we’ve heard that some Regions are auditioning it sooner, so we wanted to put out some initial ideas on it before we cover it in-depth a little later on.

You all know that we are huge fans of score preparation and it’s efficacy as a way of non-singing practicing. If you’re into puzzles like we are (okay… I am…) then this is really fun for you, like doing a coloring book or sudoku puzzle!

But this piece is score prep on steroids, because there are so many conventions and rules to follow on top of all the pretty singing. So here is your homework for tonight!

Misericordias Score Prep Homework

  • Follow this guide first. Then we can go a little more in depth
  • Mark your consonants
    •  It is crucial that you always know on what beat you are cutting off, and whether the consonant is unvoiced or voiced. For example: aeternum must end in a shadow vowel -mih in order to be heard. Write in “-mih” at the end of each aeternum on the beat on which you are cutting off. Do the same with s in Misericordias, paying attention to whether or not you are carrying the  into the word domini.
  •   Mark a Crescendo in the following places (choir directors love this trick, it’s like catnip!)
    • Any time a quarter note is tied over the bar line
    • Any note value of 1.5 beat (dotted quarter)
  •  Lifts are your friend! In order to make it sound clean we recommend a slight “lift” or “rearticulation” at all:
    • 8th notes followed by 16th notes
    • dotted 8th notes followed by a 16th note

How to Practice

Mozart was a genius with melodies, but didn’t have many words to work with here. Consequently, there is no finding your place by thinking: “Oh yea, this is the part where I sing “Cantabo”!

Once again, we know you love to sing this piece top to bottom, but that will come back to bite you since this is another one of those pieces that is “similar but different” which makes it easy to make silly mistakes.

Here is the practice plan I’ve been recommending to my students:

  • Count how many weeks you have until your audition and subtract three
  • Divide the piece into that many sections, hopefully with 2-3 “letters” per section
  • Practice one of those cuts exclusively for at least 3 days without working on the rest of the piece
    • I recommend not starting at the beginning.
    • For example, Day 1-3 practice letter C, D, and E. Day 4-6 Practice I, J, and K
  • Observe where you are making your mistakes. Know that that is probably happening because there is a similar passage or pattern elsewhere in the song.
  • 2 weeks out: Once you’ve completed this project, practice beginning at each letter individually (out of sequence)
  • 1 week out from the audition: You’re perfect! Don’t change a thing!

Happy Practicing!


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