How to deal with questions in choir rehearsals without ruining your plan

When you’re in the flow of your rehearsal plan and everything is moving along nicely, questions can feel like your worst enemy! They can interupt your pattern of thought and throw you off course.

It’s always worth remembering that questions from your singers show engagement in what you’re doing and indicate that people care.

However, without an effective method to deal with them, some can risk disrupting the rehearsal. Here are five top tips for dealing with questions that arise:

Take a deep breath

Stay calm, particularly if you know you feel anxious about being able to answer questions. Take a moment to digest what’s being asked. You may know the answer straight away or it may be something you need to look at and think about away from the gaze of the choir.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying you’re not sure off the top of your head but you will look into it and come back to them.

This is far better than being so worried about giving an answer there and then that you make something up that you’re not sure is right. However, do make sure that you follow up any queries promptly.

Be prepared to learn

Accept that you may learn from some questions. Perhaps a singer will ask something relating to a piece that hadn’t occured to you. As choir leader, nobody expects you to be 100% perfect at everything and, if they do, that’s unrealistic. Perhaps you’ve made a mistake or missed something.

Thank the singer for bringing it to your attention and re-cap any changes for the choir so that everyone understands. In doing this, you are then taking control of the situation.

Far worse would be to hold your head in your hands and wail ‘I can’t believe I missed that’!

Stay focused

Keep the rehearsal on track. Sometimes questions can start to escalate into a number of other questions and comments and before you know it, your well-managed rehearsal plan is but a dim memory and there’s lots of chatter.

Ask your singers to quieten down or wait for them to hush. Clarify the position in terms of the question and then move on with your rehearsal.

Hold tight

Be firm but fair. If a singer has a question but is becoming rather persistant with it, this can prove disruptive to you and the other singers. Often these questions might be specific to that singer and not the choir as a whole, or perhaps not relevant to the piece in hand.

In these instances stay calm, be polite and ask the singer to come and chat with you at the break or after the rehearsal where you can discuss the issue in more depth.

This way you are acknowledging the question as well as keeping your rehearsal on track.

Be kind

Never make anyone feel silly for asking a question even if it’s something most people would know. Your singers are all different, have different experiences of music and also varying ability.

If anyone is made to feel silly by other members for asking a question, point out that it’s always good to go through things even if you already know them.

It’s great that members feel they can ask questions and you don’t want anyone to feel discouraged, particularly those who are less confident.

Christine Mulgrew

    Christine Mulgrew

    Christine is a contemporary choir leader who loves to help novice and nervous singers find their voice.

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    manuel - 3 weeks ago Reply

    Thank you ever for this tool’s.
    Regards

      Christine Mulgrew
      Christine Mulgrew - 3 weeks ago Reply

      Thanks Manuel

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    Laura Gillett - 3 years ago Reply

    Christine,
    Earlier this year I implemented a new method to handle questions from my choir. Singers can ask me a question during rehearsal, of course, but if it requires an answer of more than a couple of words, they need to write it down on a clip-board I now keep by our “moveable office”. (A table where we keep sign-in sheets, seating charts, hand-outs etc.) So, for example, if a singer asks, “Breathe after beat 2, measure 29?” I would answer, “Yes.” If a singer asks, “What about this issue of vibrato for sopranos? I heard such-and-such choir….blah, blah, blah.” I respond, “Would you please leave this question on our clipboard? I can work in a response in a timely fashion at another time.”

    I have to say that this is working fabulously. Of course, out of fairness to the singers, I
    need to find a way to respond to all questions/comments. I am trying to find a humorous way to respond to questions that are irksome.

    This method of communication has given me back a piece of mind both before, during, and after rehearsals. As this is only my second semester with this choir, I am hoping to use this method to “redirect” some of their comments. It is one thing to speak one’s thoughts out loud, it is quite another to write them down and see the folly on paper. : )

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      Victoria Hopkins - 3 years ago Reply

      That sounds like an elegant solution Laura.

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