CAUSE – Chattering choir members.
SOLUTIONS – Tighten up the rehearsal. Make up a rehearsal schedule and send it out to the choir ahead of time – then stick to it.
Directors – if you can, inject a little excited urgency into your delivery of instructions.
Barbershop choruses have a ‘sergeant at arms’ whose job it is to reign in the troops. The director still gets to be the good guy – and not the nag.
Keep them very very busy. Keep them singing.
Spark their interest with a new Magic Choral Trick – then add a new one each week till there’s a large repertoire. It’s tough to chat and do a Brass Buzz or Breath of Fire at the same time.
You could try having a roster of people step out to direct the warm up. The more people who know what being out in front feels like – the more they’ll appreciate the difference between a chatting, and an attentive crowd.
CAUSE – Reaction to a choir member’s snit
SOLUTIONS – Realize that the choir member may be reacting to being unable to do what you’ve asked. If this is the case, coach the ENTIRE SECTION on how to fix the problem.
Is the choir member having a snit because you singled them out? Oops. Big Oops. You’re going to need to apologize for being a jerk.
CAUSE – Director thinks the choir ought to know the notes already – but they don’t.
SOLUTION – Learning Sound Files. By the time the Director Snit happens, it’s probably too late for that piece of music. But unless the choir is made up of fabulous sight readers, every choir needs learning sound files. The wonder of the digital age means that notes will never again have to be taught at rehearsal. People can learn their music as they drive to work, cook their dinners or go for a walk or run. They can even record themselves singing along with the sound file, to see how they’re doing. This is perhaps the most important thing that can be done to make rehearsals more fun for everyone.
CAUSE – Choir keeps forgetting previous musical instructions
SOLUTION – For choirs that use music, this is easy. Keep a jar of sharpened pencils (with good erasers) in the rehearsal hall, and insist that everyone use them. My high school music teacher – Stan Clark – had a wonderful definition for the word ‘musician’. “Someone who has a pencil”. And replacing pencils that have wandered is cheap, and is a small price for helping everyone’s blood pressure stay normal.
For Barbershop choruses – who memorize the music – the best solution is to rehearse specific spots in isolation, until they’re ironed in and solid. I then reintegrate the trouble spot back into a slightly larger chunk of the song before ever going back and running it from the top. Of course, this is also the best approach even for choirs who use music.
CAUSE – Director doesn’t know how to handle a particular problem
SOLUTION – Very easy. Read through this blog, and if you don’t find what you’re looking for, ask me in the comment section. I promise that I’ll get back to you. If I don’t know, I’ll refer you to someone who does.