For many choirs, offering rehearsal tracks is an essential part of how the choir learns. Without them, many singers can only practise at the rehearsal. While the main bulk of learning takes place in rehearsal, it is not possible to attend to all individuals’ needs at all times, so rehearsal tracks are a great support to the choir leader and singers alike.
There are numerous ways to record rehearsal tracks and make them available to your choir. They can be on CD, in a private membership area of your website, distributed on USB sticks. A word of warning though – do check the copyright situation in your country. Making audio tracks is a form of copying, so if the music is in copyright, you’ll need to check that your jurisdiction allows that sort of thing for private study or for educational purposes.
If you don’t have the benefit of an accompanist in rehearsal, having tracks that you can play to the choir (particularly if they’re learning by ear) can be a great help when you want to focus on a particular section or vocal part. This means you don’t have to have every single note of every part memorised the whole time (even if I do that, it all falls out of my head when the choir is in front of me!). I have a small keyboard that I use to pitch key notes but I’m no pianist and if I try to play a phrase it takes a little while! Much better for my singers to quickly hear it on the rehearsal track.
Making rehearsal tracks, while tremendously useful, can be a bit laborious. You either have to play in each line on a keyboard or using a computer programme, or you have to sing it. Singing the parts yourself has its own challenges because, if you’re leading a mixed choir, you almost certainly can’t sing all the parts at pitch. You could hire singers, but that would make the whole process rather expensive.
Of course, at Total Choir Resources we’ve taken this experience of making rehearsal tracks into full consideration when developing our new digital music store. We know how hard choir leaders work and how time-consuming the process of making rehearsal tracks can be. All our arrangements will come with ready-made rehearsal tracks which you can roll out to your choir straight away.