Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Join a choir or two!

To improve consistently,
  • Warmup every day. Five minutes is often enough.
  • Workout thrice weekly. Forty-five minutes is enough.
  • Vocal rehearsals, lessons, and concerts count as workouts.
 The easiest method to do this is to


 Voice lessons are great, but singing with a choir is a simpler, friendlier and cheaper way to improve any singer.   Singing in two choirs guarantees two weekly workouts and two weekly warmups.  Often the homework to learn your music and the performances they give provide your third weekly workout.    All you need is to find one or two choirs that are right for you,  set aside a little money for dues or tuition, then sing.  Portland has this great resource that my friend and colleague Tom Hard maintains in the PDX CHORAL CALENDAR that lists dozens of singing groups you might join.


Of course you want a group that's near you and rehearses and performs at times you can be there. Almost all choirs allow you to miss some rehearsals and performances, so don't let a few schedule conflicts deter you:  just be honest about your conflicts when you present yourself and it will work out.

Beginning singers should find and join a "Non-Auditioned" choir (one that accepts everyone without them having to sing well first).  Most schools and churches and community centers have one or two.

Intermediate singers should audition for a auditioned choir.  The music is more difficult, the singing more exact and membership more exclusive because you have to show what you can do (often all by yourself) before you start with them..  If you don't get into one when you first audition, don't panic, just stick with your non-auditioned choir, study "HOW TO AUDITION FOR A CHOIR"  and try another selective choir.

Advanced singers should get on contact lists for professional groups and audition every time they have a chance.  Such groups often have connections to solo, recording, and contacts that will spring-board you to other groups and performances.  In the meanwhile, stay with your auditioned choirs until you have reason to stop.


You should end off singing with your choir for two reasons:  it's too hard, or it's too easy.  You might need to cut back singing because of life barriers like family illness or job changes.  Either way, you decide what is best, communicate your decision to those that need to know about it,  then go.

A choir that's too hard for you will leave you feeling confused and nervous.  You'll feel like rehearsals are rushed and you barely know the music, even in performance.  First, before you do anything else, tell your leaders and teachers what you are feeling:  they might make changes to their teaching styles and have resources that can help you  remain in a group so you are meeting the challenges.   In the meanwhile, stick things out for another three weeks or three months and fulfill your promises to the group as best you can.  You may discover you're stepping up to the challenge, so you should stick with it.  If not, end off when it's ethical then find an easier group,

A choir that's too easy for you will leave you feeling bored and irritated.  You'll feel rehearsals are too slow and your fellow singers aren't doing well.   First, before you do anything else, stick with it and set a good example of how this singing and rehearsing should go and do an excellent job of it.   When the music doesn't challenge you, challenge yourself to be more beautiful, precise, artistic and emotionally engaged than ever before.  In the meanwhile, let your current leaders know how you're doing and let them make suggestions.  When you find and join a more expert group, end off your old group when it's acceptable to do so.

In the end, do the right thing for your choirs (don't burn your bridges by quitting like a flake or a jerk) because you might rejoin them in the future.  Even better, they might need you for something special - and they'll know they can trust you to deliver.

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