The happy chatter of choral singers getting up from their chairs
Cheerful discussions as they sit down again
Hilarity as they move from one standing formation to another
Many helpful suggestions to one another as people find the sheet music for the next piece.
So the question is – does this need to be stomped on, or is it just a side effect of people having fun?
The first part of the answer to that depends entirely on what the group’s goals are.
For example – a church choir needs to be able lead the hymns on Sunday, and perform one or two anthems well. In addition to that, they’ll need to lay the groundwork for similar success for a couple of weeks hence. If this can all happen to the satisfaction of choir, director and congregation even with a bit of chat at rehearsal – so be it.
A competitive chorus just weeks away from their competition may need gentle reminders of how much better they’ll feel on the contest stage if they focus now, and are really well prepared.
The second part of the answer is that no matter what the group or their goals, having the director run a tight rehearsal magically cuts down on a lot of chatter.
If I have drawn up a schedule ahead of time, and know exactly what I want to work on with each piece, my groups are suddenly much more interested in what I have to say. Especially if each time I stop them I have something specific, and meaningful to ask of them.
Leading by example is also useful. If I speak succinctly about the reason I cut them off and my focus appears to be completely on the music, it’s contagious. As is a director’s passion for excellence.
I love to have both the rigorous, focused work and the happy chatter at my rehearsals. One is getting the work done, and the other releases the tension of all that concentration. Both build community.