How to freshen up your choir rehearsals

Are you tired of running the same old choir rehearsal week in, week out? Do your singers anticipate what's coming next? Every now and then it's a good idea to spring clean your rehearsal plans and freshen things up. Here are some top tips to get the ball rolling.

Start as you mean to go on

Remember that just because you do things in the same order week after week, it doesn't mean you can't change them. Of course there are certain pre-requisites, such as needing to warm-up before singing, but even this can be changed.

Look back over your rehearsal plans and make a list of as many warm-ups as you can, so you can create a 'pick and mix' system. Note down any warm-ups that are particularly good for working on specific techniques such as breathing or diction.

From this list you can choose many different combinations for your rehearsals that will compliment your repertoire. I came across a warm-up last week that I don't think I'd done for about five years! It was great fun to get everyone doing it again.

Give your singers a break

If you are working towards a big performance or learning tough repertoire, make sure you balance this with some lighthearted fun.

Choose some repertoire that your choir knows well or will pick up relatively easily and intersperse it with your current learning. This is ideal at the end of the rehearsal when concentration may be starting to flag.

It's all about the timing

Look at your regular rehearsal pattern. Could this be changed for the better? Lately I have been leaving a small section of time at the end of the rehearsal for us to put away our chairs, stand in a big circle and sing. This gives my singers a chance to stretch their legs and a much better idea of how they sound together. It's also great for doing rounds as everyone really interacts together.

If you have a break during your rehearsal, is it in the right place? How are your singers concentration levels afterwards? I find I prefer to do the bulk of learning before our tea break, so we spend an hour on singing first and have about 45 minutes afterwards.

I always put the more focused learning or more complicated parts in the first section and try and keep things lighter afterwards.

It's always a good idea to have a handful of exercises you can bring out when you feel concentration or focus is dwindling. Short, easy songs with actions are perfect for this as they wake everyone up and get them giggling. Never be afraid to interject these at any point in a rehearsal when you feel they are needed.
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