Most of us know that a performance is show business – and that the amount of our onstage success depends on the degree to which we’ve thought this one through. However, Directors, you may not have realized that for us, showtime happens every rehearsal night. And though it’s us that’s in the spotlight, the chorus still needs to feel the show business in most aspects of the rehearsal.
What I have learned through trial and error – and a few bitter experiences is this:
Pacing is really, really important – which is why I no longer run rehearsals without a schedule. When I’ve done all the thinking ahead of time, and know what I want to accomplish by the end of the evening – no more heavy feeling as I drive to rehearsal – and much more fun for me.
When I’m excited, cheerful, motivated, and clearly have a purpose in mind, my singers love it, and will do just about anything for me. They’re being entertained as they work, and as they’re being coached.
Having a boatload of Magic Choral Tricks at my beck and call gives me so much more confidence that I have tools to deal with any technical issues. My women’s chorus has learned many of these tricks along with me, so that now we use hand signals for the tricks, as a sort of shorthand – which of course gets us back on track very quickly. (Which in turn keeps the pace of the rehearsal humming along.) Because we’ve developed these hand gestures together, there’s the satisfaction of insider knowledge for all of us – rather like the unspoken communication that develops with our close friends.
A sense of humour will fix many of the quirky, personality things that might arise – though I usually just keep my choruses too busy during rehearsal for this sort of problem to ever come up.
My job description is to make sure that every singer, at some point in the evening remembers why they joined the group. Goosebumps from being part of an exciting sound, entertainment, and the joy of working as a team on something really worthwhile.
All the elements of a good show.