We all enjoy tackling new repertoire in our choirs, but it can be just as beneficial to revisit music that the choir has tackled before.
This week, my choir celebrates its seventh anniversary. I’ve chosen ‘seven songs for seven years’ to kick off the new season. These are all songs from our archive which we have performed over our time as a choir. Here are some benefits to revisiting repertoire.
It is likely that over time your choir will change and evolve. Singers leave and new ones join. It is unlikely that the whole choir will have been the same throughout its life. When you revisit repertoire, it will be brand new for some singers.
This is a lovely challenge for your new singers and a trip down memory lane for those who have been in the choir a while. The feedback I often get from singers is that they love revisiting songs they know, especially after long periods of new learning or at the end of a rehearsal. You can also encourage those who know the pieces to help newer members with the parts as you go through the learning process.
Just as singers come and go from a choir over a period of time, so too the sound of the choir changes. When I started my choir, for a long time I had just three male singers, meaning my tenor parts could easily get lost in the mix.
Over the years I have built this up and now have around twenty male singers, making up a third of the choir. This has changed the balance of the sound greatly. Those earlier arrangements we worked on will now sound very different. Renewing past repertoire with new skills can be exciting and really show your singers how far they have come.
Revisiting repertoire can also offer you, as the choir leader, some flexibility. You might find a period of time when you are really busy juggling several things. Perhaps you don’t have much spare time for preparation or you’d like to enjoy your holiday for a couple of weeks without worrying about planning new repertoire for when you get back.
Mixing some past pieces into your plan can help to give you some breathing space. That said, be careful not to be complacent just because you have done something before. Make sure you allow some time to run through the parts and remind yourself of them or else you’ll end up feeling stressed and under-prepared at rehearsal.
Visiting some old favourites can really help to lighten up rehearsals, particularly if you are working on a project focused on a specific choral work or style of music. When your choir is undertaking a period of focused learning, putting some alternative pieces into the rehearsal can really help to boost confidence and offer a different focus, if only for a short period. This can be much more effective than purely focusing on the new material for the entire rehearsal.