The vital importance of re-using your choir’s repertoire

In the process of rehearsing and performing with your choir over months and years, you’ll build up quite a range of repertoire. Having new, exciting pieces for your choir to sing is always a great, exciting challenge. However, don’t underestimate the importance of re-using existing repertoire. I confess, I have too often been of the mindset that I must move forward constantly with new songs. I remember planning a concert for my choir, I realised that time constraints meant that we couldn’t tackle many new items. Instead, I resurrected some old ones. To my surprise, the choir was incredibly enthusiastic about re-visiting some music they’d already learned.

Keep all members engaged

Inevitably, your choir will have a mixture of long-standing and new members. Remember that even if your choir as a whole is very familiar with a piece, there will be newer members who don’t know it at all. Keep these people in mind when you reintroduce the piece, perhaps by spending some time running through the parts. Don’t worry about boring the singers who are already familiar with the music – the more familiar something is, the more we are likely to mis-remember details. It won’t hurt them to check their knowledge. Get those who’ve sung it before involved as you teach the piece, they will probably pick it up quickly and can help the others in their section to do the same by carrying them along with a confident sound.

Make sure you know your stuff

Don’t forget to check your own knowledge when you prepare to re-teach a piece. You may remember things slightly differently from the way they are actually arranged. When carrying out score or song preparation, treat it as new and go over all the details with a fresh pair of eyes.

Refresh the performance

When re-visiting repertoire, you may want to make some changes to the way you interpret a piece. Perhaps your choir is bigger now or perhaps the singers are much more confident and learn more quickly. You may need to re-think tempo and dynamics depending on the venue in which you will perform.

The more you go through this process, the more confident your choir will become with its existing repertoire. You will, in turn, be able to accept performance opportunities knowing that you’ll have plenty of suitable music at your fingertips.

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