Rehearsal Practice Tips...

Developing Choral Excellence
Through Teaching and Performance

by Jo-Anne van der Vat-Chromy

Tips to remember...
  • Start at Item I and go through Item XII, in that order.
  • Remember... Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect!
  • Do you have to do EVERYTHING on this task analysis EVERY TIME? NO!
However, ANYTHING you do on this chart for a consistent number of minutes each week over time will positively impact and empower your experiences in each rehearsal, as well as strengthen the entire choir as a whole. The name of the game is SYNERGY!
I. Instructional framework: What are the behaviors of fine singing? Transfer Singing Skills to Success Skills to Life Skills Personal goals: 1. Set a time for yourself to practice - how long and what do you want to accomplish? 2. What are you thinking about as a focus? Tone? Correct notes? Words and language? Remembering harmonies? Understanding the piece? Memorizing? 3. Have a glass of water with you when you practice to hydrate your vocal chords while working. 4. How proud will you be when you finish?! 5. Keep a chart?! This is an INCREDIBLE way to be proud of your out-of-rehearsal efforts. II. Body work: body use, conducting gestures, choral movement 1. Be sure to do at least one kind of body-work exercise to remind your body of its own sense of wholeness and how it needs to work when it is singing and learning. Do anything you remember from rehearsal or your own favorites. Remember you are "de-constructing stress" and "re-constructing a singing body". 2. It will feel great! III. Breath management and use 1. Do breathing exercises you remember from choir rehearsal: hissing, silent breath, ribs, etc. IV. Pitch matching, melodic confidence, modeling skills, warm-ups: 1. Any vocal warm-ups you remember! Start in the middle of your range and work down (not too low) and then middle to upper (not too high). Monitor your relaxation, jaw, facial muscles and placement. Work for a relaxed and free sound. Don't push or extend to the point that you add any tension or ugliness in your sound. Examples: Lip trills, tongue rolls, vocalizations, 5-note scale patterns descending, sing a "wee-----", scales, arpeggios. V. Harmonic confidence - aural - partner songs, descant, ostinatos, cannons VI. Vowel purification/vocal technique 1. Warm-ups on single vowels and vowel patterns on one note, listening for purity, tall placement and a relaxed tonus in the singing. VII. Counting and rhythmic reading 1. Practice in our solfege book, practice in your music! VIII. Solfege, note and sight-reading 1. Practice in our solfege book, practice in your music! IX. Musical understanding, history, expression, meaning, languages 1. Check the Tallahassee Civic Chorale website for historical information or MP3 files for our pieces. 2. Practice saying pieces in foreign languages, as a piece of poetry 3. Practice saying pieces in foreign languages in the song rhythm. 4. To memorize? Write it out without speaking! X. Technical mastery: part accuracy, harmonic accuracy, mesh, pre-memorization level readiness 1. Mark your music with a pencil. Review what was said in rehearsal. 2. Practice singing your part alone. Use an MP3 of the piece, play it on an instrument, sing it as best you can from memory, or record the rehearsal and practice with that recording at home. 3. Practice in small clumps of information, with 3 times repetitions per clump before moving on. 4. Get together with choir friends outside of rehearsal and try to sing in harmony together. 5. Memorize it! XI. Performance focus: framework questions, meaning, expression, group work 1. As the concert date approaches, reach out to someone in the choir. Call a choir friend, touch base, ask them how they are doing. Share your thoughts, excitements and fears about the upcoming concert. They will have them too! Connect with each other and make the fibers of our relationships conscious. 2. Send your director an e-mail of support. They always like that, and always need that :) 3. As the concert time draws near, put your folder in order. Make it as light as possible! 4. Have a session or two singing the entire program straight through. 5. Practice singing while standing and wearing your concert shoes. 6. How do you look? Practice singing in front of a mirror. 7. What are you bringing to the music? How is your expression, your facial affect and the energy of your heart in each piece? 8. Are you remembering your personal goals and our two instructional goals? 9. Are you transferring your learning from choir to rehearsal, home practice and back to rehearsal? 10. Are you transferring your learning from choir to your life? XII. Artistic performance by musically independent choir 1. Relax, and ENJOY! For me, "To be in enjoyment" = "In joy you are meant to be". 2. Does it have to be perfect? NO! Can it have to be filled with love, focus, expression, and as much skill as you have been able to build? YES!