Learning sound files and the digital age are responsible for the greatest leap forward – probably ever – in the interest and excitement levels of a regular choir or chorus rehearsal.
In my women’s Barbershop chorus especially – ALL new repertoire is learned with professionally recorded and sung sound files. These files have each section’s part featured as the predominant part on its own track. If you listen with headphones and pan from one side to the other, the range goes from the one part by itself to the part fully integrated in the mix.
As soon as our librarian gets sent the new sound files by email – she sends them out to the chorus along with the digital version of the sheet music, which we’ve bought online. She will burn a few discs when requested – but most of the chorus is now computer savvy enough to listen at their computers, put the file onto an mp3 player, or burn their own disc so that they can learn their parts while they’re driving.
This has several benefits
1.Repertoire is learned much faster, because the singers can hear their part every day – not just once a week. And the learning can be integrated into their daily routine.
2.Tuning is much less of a problem later, because chorus members are learning the song from a version that’s perfectly in tune.
3.Rehearsals are more fun for the singers when they don’t have to sit around and wait while another section learns the notes.
4.As a director, rehearsals are exponentially more fun for me! Perhaps I was just never much good at it – but I always found teaching notes to be time, labour and patience intensive. Because the chorus knows the notes before rehearsal, we can spend the entire time doing the fun stuff – smoothing out vocal lines, chord balancing, changing the colour and tone of the sound to fit the emotion of the song, powerful dynamics, faces, working on expanded sound, blend, messing around with standing positions to find the most exciting sound, choreography……..
My intention with all my singing groups is that rehearsals be the least stressful and most fun thing they do all week – and learning sound files have certainly begun to send us in that direction.