ChorTeach is ACDA’s quarterly publication for choral conductors and teachers at all levels. It is published online, and each issue contains four practical articles. If you are not already a member of ACDA, you can join and receive access to ChorTeach online. Below is an excerpt from an article written by Catherine Feazell in the Summer 2018 issue. You can read more at acda.org/chorteach.
As a conductor, I feel the most important work I do happens outside the rehearsal room. It is selecting appropriate literature and preparing to present that literature to the ensemble.
If I have done my homework wisely, the rehearsal process becomes much easier. Our singers entrust us choral directors with their most valuable resource their time. To use the ensemble’s time wisely, it is imperative that we come to rehearsal with a thorough knowledge and understanding of each score. Despite its importance, score study is one aspect of the job I believe many of us, I include myself, fail to always find adequate time for.
I developed the following checklist as a way to “keep myself honest” during the process of score study and to help evaluate whether or not I am fully prepared for a rehearsal. While it is certainly not exhaustive, I hope you find it to be a useful resource in your rehearsal preparation.
• Sing through each voice part separately. Note locations where singers may have difficulties with notes and/or rhythms, and sections where special instruction in vocal technique may be warranted. Repeat the process to help discern what sections singers may be able to clear up on their own versus which areas will require teaching.
• Sing through each voice part while playing other parts on the piano. Study how the parts relate and which parts can be rehearsed together for efficient use of time.
• Play through all the parts together. Note the harmonic devices used throughout the work (homophony, counterpoint, etc.). Study the overall form of the work (ABA, AABA, ABCA, sonata allegro, fugal, etc.) How will the form help determine how the work is taught?
• Gather background information on the composer, time period during which the work was composed, and how it relates to the composer’s other works.
Read more in the Summer 2018 at acda.org/chorteach.