Magic Choral Trick #385 Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Why do I keep having to relearn the value of preparation? The difference between even a moderately prepared rehearsal and a no kidding prepared one astonishes me.

Last night Big Choir and I had our first of 6 rehearsals that will take us to our annual benefit concert on November 25th. Granted, over the last 15 years this particular group of amateur singers has come to know that I’m going to ask them to stand with great alignment, sing on the target vowels and that I expect that they’ll sing on my beat. But last night they were so focused that we made major headway on all seven new songs. And there was almost no chatter after any of my cutoffs – which is amazing for a choir of about 90 singers who get together once a year for a few rehearsals.

The secret? Preparation

The first hats off has to go to the team that chooses the music. The songs are familiar and the arrangements are appropriate to the group’s abilities. I think we’ll be able to get notes straightened out in one or two more weeks, after which we can get to really making music.

The second level of preparation rests on my shoulders. For last night’s rehearsal I had prepared the scores with coloured pencils for the tricky bits and how I was going to work them, and of course a hi-lighter for the road map DS, Repeat and Coda markings. I find hi-lighting the road map and using colour coded large paper clips for the DS/Coda flipping of pages really helps. One colour of paper clip for going back to the DS and another colour for flipping ahead to the Coda. This is particularly helpful on the night of the show, under the bright lights and with the more intense atmosphere.

I look forward to seeing how many of the choir take these suggestions for their own music. (Guess it’ll be obvious next week by the level of characteristic merfling of words and drop in volume that normally accompanies a return to a DS or a flip ahead to a Coda)

Having accomplished so much on the first night I now need to go back to the preparation drawing board. As we clean up remaining note stuff, the next step is to see how we’re going to draw out the beauty of the musical lines, the fun of the uptunes and the intensity of emotion in the power songs.

I’m excited to see what level we get to next week after I’ve done my homework and prepared these next steps.

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 October 21, 2019, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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