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Choral Caffeine: Small Change, Big Results

We are always on the hunt for new (or new to us) rehearsal strategies, those little things that can bring a revived approach to the environment, and ideally reinvigorate our singers.
In her article, “May I Suggest a Better Blend?” (Oregon ACDA’s Choral Focus), Donna Spicer offers a concise list of techniques for making the rehearsal just a little bit more efficient, which is ultimately to the benefit of everyone in the room.
       When making corrections, stop singers and say what you want in seven words or less. Correction followed by immediate practice doesn't (usually) allow the singers time to forget what you have suggested.
       In warm-ups, have the singers turn to the person next them and watch each other's mouth position for the formation of the vowels. Then have them tactfully critique each other's vowel shapes. This exercise often makes singers more conscious of purer vowels and relaxed jaws.
       For a difficult passage in the music, have everyone sing with the struggling section on a particular line, then each section returns to its on part.
       On a tricky or rhythmically challenging passage, have everyone sing staccato and a cappella. Errors in rhythm and pitch are instantly (and embarrassingly) noticeable.
       For a smoother, legato line, have singers conduct the phrase with their hands or arms. More body involvement helps intrinsically solidify the legato character.
Sometimes, a small change can yield a big result.  Try something new in your next rehearsal.
(For additional articles on a dazzling array of choral topics, visit ChorTeach.)
on December 19, 2013 6:39am
I enjoyed this article and have just begun teaching at a high school. One of the choral groups has people who have never sung before and there are alot of beginning steps to singing necessary. How do I make this interesting for those who know how to sing while teaching basics to those who haven't?