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Basic skills for singers: Teaching a kids' choir to Bow together

here are several responses. Enjoy! polly

Hi - Our directors give the kids a hand signal to bow at the waist and say to
themselves as they bow down "have I shined my shoes today?" (in 4/4 time,
maybe a slow andante). Then, as they start back up, they say to themselves
"Yes, I shined my shoes today." Works great.

Gaby Pryor
Executive Director
Los Angeles Children's Chorus

I learned this trick while working with young singers at the Kansas City Lyric
Opera Camp, and it continues to work with children of all ages. The director
aknowledges the choir with an outstretched hand, looking back over
that shoulder
at the singers to let them know "this is it". As the director bows, bringing
that hand down, the choir softly (silently is best) says together "Are my shoes
tied?...Yes, they are!" This is exactly enough time to get everyone down in a
unison bow on the question, and back up smiling on the answer. Even
kindergarteners can figure out that it's not a real question, since some of us
are wearing buckle or velcro or slip on shoes, but that it's a way to keep us
all together. In an opera curtain call, the cast joins hands, and
the person in
the center raises his/hers to lead the silent Q&A. Hope you enjoy it
as much as
we have!
My other, similar trick, to get singers to relax and renew posture/blood flow
between songs of a long program, is to mouth the words "toe jam" to
them. Since
this is part of our physical warm up for rehearsals, they automatically
respond, and almost always smile back at me. Thank you Ken Phillips!

Jo Anne Taylor
Minnehaha Academy Middle School Choirs
Minneapolis, MN
(612)721-3359, ext 2031

Here's what I do: (It works!)

(1) First I walk to the stage right side of the chorus, indicate them with
my left arm, and I bow to the audience.
(2) Next I acknowledge the accompanist, who stands and bows.
(3) Next I turn my back to the audience, raise BOTH ARMS to salute the
chorus (which is the company bow signal), turn back to the audience, and WE
ALL now bow to the audience. We remain bowed long enough to say (to
ourselves, but in rehearsal we say it outloud) the name of our chorus:
"Pilgrim Pops Chorus."

Ruth McKendree Treen
Chatham, Massachusetts

I use: palm up is acknowledgment - turn the hand over and the choir bows
(no hand turn = no now).
The bow is a silent 1 2 3 4 down 1 2 3 4 up.

I hope all is well for you!

Then I read your message -- you mean bows as in acknowledging the
audience's thunderous ovation. Short answer -- we don't do the
"choral bow." Lots of people do, and that's great. On some simple,
unobtrusive cue from the conductor. It works for many, and
sometimes, it even looks OK, but too often, it looks like a
trained-seal act. Symphony players do not take individual bows. We
don't either. Simply a personal quirk, and no offense meant against
those who perfer the group bow.
I do the main bow, and acknowledge soloists or sections,and, of
course the accompanist. I have the orch stand, etc etc -- all

Toes, bow, toes, teeth!

Choir goes up on tip-toes (not real high)
Then down from the waist to bow
Back up on the toes
And relax to a good posture with a big smile

I can do the same thing from the front and we all bow together
I can signal from the side ... they bow and I follow.

A friend of mine who always has his choir bow for concerts does it like
this: he moves to one side and takes a bow as the conductor, then he
gestures toward the choir with his hand as we all do to direct the applause
toward them. That's their cue to take a bow. When he gestures, they bow.

Just be careful. If you get too carried away, it looks like a bunch of
trained seals! But it works well, and audiences do get a kick out of,
especially if it's done well. Practice!

Have them lower their bodies from the waist up only and slowly look at their
shoes and say "have I tied my shoes?". As they come up slowly in the same
manner say " yes! I've tied my shoes". This gives them a focus point for
their eyes (their shoes) so the audience doesn't see eyeballs and the saying
is just about the right tempo for a nice relaxed bow. I have used this with
elementary through high school and it always works. Of course, don't forget
to have them say the words SILENTLY for the real thing!
Never underestimate the ability of children. They can surprise you
when presented with a challenge!)

Polly Murray
Founder/Artistic Director
ChildrenSong of New Jersey

on April 12, 2003 10:00pm
Try the 1,2,3 trick count 1,2,3 then everyone bows at the same time . Practice a few time before the concert until you have it down pact
on July 14, 2003 10:00pm
My phrase is "Am I wearing shoes? as my groups bow, then "Yes, I'm wearing shoes!" as they stand again. The silliness of the concept insures that they stand up and face the audience with big smiles. And there is always keen anticipation as to who may forget and speak the phrases aloud! This has worked like a charm for younger children and high schoolers both.
on November 24, 2005 10:00pm
My choir director does the hand motion to show us when to bow and we count 1 2 3 4 and we stay at 4 (bowed) long enough to say to ourselves "they love me they love me they love me" in a 4/4 beat and then we come back up on 1 2 3 4.
on December 15, 2005 10:00pm
I don't think choirs should bow at all. I tell my choirs that when I acknowledge them to an applauding audience, they should stand proud, sweep the crowd with their eyes and accept it graciously for a job well done. I do this from 5th grade to 12th grade. Just another look at it....
on June 16, 2006 10:00pm
I step to the side of the choir, lean back slightly to indicate to them that we are ready to bow and our phrase is "hello feet" "goodbye feet". It works for us and the parents love it. I've done this with very young children very successfully.