Magic Choral Trick #63 Keep ‘Em Singing

A choir is a sociable beast.

I am exactly the sort of person that choir directors have had to grit their teeth and put up with. The director’s cut off means the start of fun conversation time. I’m sure I’ve been a nightmare for many conductors.

It’s for this reason that I truly understand when the people in front of whom I’m now waving my arms want to behave the same way.

However, this situation could develop ultimately into director frustration and vocal fatigue, annoyance on the part of the virtuous choir members, inefficient use of rehearsal time, and eventually loss of valuable members – and all because of too much chatting.

Here are some solutions: (for directors)

1. Plan your rehearsals as accurately, timewise, as you can – then stick to the schedule.

2. Create a sense of urgency because of the schedule. If the folks had wanted something laid back and relaxed, they would have stayed home with friends and beer. We’re in this game for the excitement.

3. No long musicology diatribes.

4. No rants of any kind.

5. Any humorous personal anecdotes should be kept to 20 seconds or less.

6. Insist on Electric Silence before anything that’s sung. (Much tougher with kids. My hat is off to you children’s choir directors who have managed this one)

7. Schedule a few minutes at the start of rehearsal for any sheet music to be put in the order in which it’ll be rehearsed. The chatter that starts up when people are trying to find music is almost unstoppable.

8. When you cut them off, make sure it’s because you have something valuable to say. Something that’ll make the next run through more exciting or more fun. Oh yes – and most people can’t remember more than one instruction.

9. Keep your sense of humour.

10. Keep ‘Em Singing!

About janetkidd

I've been waving my arms in front of choirs now for more than 35 years - and these are descriptions of all the very best things I've learned. I direct a Women's Competitive Barbershop Chorus, a Men's Competitive Barbershop Chorus, a Med School choir, and for a few weeks each year - Big Choir (about 100 voices) - which performs at an annual fundraising concert. Hope at least some of these Choral Magic Tricks will be useful to you - and thanks for reading. Janet

Posted on January 19, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. (The same set of rules could be used by teachers as well. Thank you.) I have worked with choir directors who were unable or chose not to deal with the chatting. Your proactive approach stops it before it starts. (I am one of those choir members who is driven crazy by the chatting and wasted time … although hardly virtuous … and I end up telling other people to be quiet, thus creating an awkward situation for all.)

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