There’s much more to rehearsing your choir than simply learning music. If a group of singers met each week and just sang through repertoire over and over again, would the music improve? Yes, it probably would, but would those singers feel inspired? Would the performance be cohesive and dynamically interesting? Would the group of singers act and sound like a choir? I think for the sake of all our roles as choir leaders, the answer had better be no!
We need to ensure that we take the helm, inspire our singers and create rehearsals that offer the best possible opportunities for fulfilling the choir’s potential.
So, let’s ask ourselves – what are choir rehearsals for?
To learn repertoire
Over time, your skills as a choir leader will develop. You will find more effective ways of teaching repertoire to your choir. Successfully learning repertoire does not mean simply singing through pieces a number of times. It involves helping each section to become more confident in their part and then blending the parts together to create a cohesive whole. This process takes time so it’s really important that you prepare in advance to ensure everything is covered in good time before a performance.
To prepare for performance
You also need to think about how your choir will perform. Allow time in rehearsals to teach them performance skills, including how to behave on stage. Make sure that your singers are looking at you but also looking out to the audience. If your choir uses scores, make sure they’re being held correctly so that there’s no need to look down for more than a quick glance. It’s little details like this that make the difference between a good performance and great one, so they should be part of the rehearsal process.
To work as a team
A good team creates a positive atmosphere within rehearsals, making it more appealing to members. Great team spirit makes the business of learning music together much more creative and enjoyable all round. You can bring your singers together and help the team-building process in a number of ways. Firstly, take time to learn names and something about each person so the whole experience feels more personable. Secondly, include teambuilding exercises in your warm-ups, preferably ones that involve mixing people up so that they are not always next to the same people. Thirdly, engage your singers during rehearsals – don’t just dictate instructions, get them involved and ask them questions.
To develop singing skills
Over time, it’s important that you help your singers to develop their vocal skills. This will help them to sing safely and look after their voice, and will also help the choir to develop a better sound. As with the teamwork element, helping your singers develop their voices will keep them challenged and interested and help them to enjoy the choir experience even more.