Choral Caffeine: Small Change, Big Results
Date: December 11, 2013
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.)