Magic Choral Trick #24 Coaching
It might seem strange to call coaching a trick, but a good coach can certainly work amazing magic with a choir or chorus.
When I first began to direct a Barbershop chorus, I’d already been a choir director for about 15 years. My background was Classical music, and I’d been steeped in a rich choral tradition for a very long time. I have to confess that when the Sea Belles first approached me to fill in as director for a few months it was out of the goodness of my heart that I condescended to help them out. I considered Barbershop a lower form of choral singing, and I – the professional choral musician – was going to give them the benefit of my vast knowledge.
So you can imagine how insulted I was that a few weeks into the spring season they told me that they were bringing in a coach to help the chorus get ready for competition.
This was a very different, much more democratic version of a choir than I’d ever experienced.
Since that time – nearly 19 years ago – we’ve had coaches working with the chorus, often twice a year. And I can honestly say that I have never stopped learning from these masters. While some of the ideas and tricks in these posts were thought up by me – many of them were given to my chorus by a wide variety of coaches.
In addition to teaching the chorus, these coaches have all spent time teaching me to be a better director, for which I’m incredibly grateful.
Of course, another huge bonus for most of us directors is that the coaches come in and tell the chorus exactly the same things that we’ve been telling them. This helps in two ways. The coach may explain a concept slightly differently, so that the people who didn’t get it the way you said it, now understand. The second benefit is that you now have even more credibility – which increases every time a coach comes in and reinforces what you’ve been saying.