Developing well-planned, balanced rehearsals is an important part of the choir leader's role. At the beginning of a season there will be more music learning or note bashing to cover as your singer's become familiar with new pieces. Further on in the season the focus may be more on fine-tuning those pieces. Wherever you are in the season it's important to keep your singers engaged, to offer enjoyable rehearsals that cover the learning required, while avoiding them feeling overwhelmed. How you end a rehearsal is an important part of this. Here are some top tips for a positive finish to every rehearsal.
1. Leave on a high
When you are learning new music, especially if the choir are picking it up well, it can be tempting just to plough on with it and get as much done as possible. However, as the rehearsal goes on, especially if it's in the evening, chances are that concentration levels will start to dip. Shorter sections of learning across a well planned term of rehearsals will most probably prove far more beneficial than a lengthy slog where little may be retained. Avoid learning new pieces right up to the end of a rehearsal. Instead, get the choir standing and have a good sing through what you've got so far. This will leave them feeling on a high about their achievements rather than overwhelmed about what they still don't know.
Bring out some old favourites
It's always good to remember that people come along to a choir because they like to have a good sing. A great way to end a rehearsal is to bring out a couple of old favourites which your singers know inside out. This can be particularly benefiicial if you've been doing a lot of new learning in the rehearsal. Don't be tempted to direct parts, point out issues or make corrections, just let them sing. If you do notice things that need work jot them down and return to them earlier in another rehearsal.
Just as you expect your singers to be at the rehearsal on time, don't forget they have other things going on in their lives and running over may cause them frustration and inconvenience. Plan your rehearsal to end on time and cut things out if necessary to do so. Just make a note to yourself so that you can incorporate what you missed into a subsequent rehearsal. Starting and finishing on time is not only courtesy to your singers, it also reflects well on you and your organisation of the rehearsal.
Say thank you
It's a simple thing but thanking your singers at the end of a rehearsal for their hard work goes along way. Showing your appreciation will make them feel valued and that their work within the choir is appreciated. You may also want to thank anyone who has helped you with the rehearsal admin, and of course your accompanist if you have one.
Have a cool down
Just as you would at the end of a hectic aerobic session, a cool down is a lovely way to finish a rehearsal and helps to relax singers. This only needs to be a couple of minutes. You could sing a slower piece from your repertoire or a gentle round getting quieter and quieter each time.