If you teach an adult chorus, it might seem reasonable to expect your singers to develop a practice schedule that works for them on their own. But even adults sometimes need guidance and structure. As choir directors, we should help lay out our expectations for them as a starting point for developing healthy practice habits.
There are two important guidelines that need to be defined in order to set your choral members up for success in learning their music: a foundation for rehearsal expectations and a list of practice-at-home expectations.
How to Create Rehearsal Expectations For Your Chorus
In a brainstorming session, write down the answer to these questions:
- What is the purpose of your rehearsals?
- What are your responsibilities as the choir director?
- What are the responsibilities of your singers?
- What are the responsibilities of your section leaders?
- What will be learned in rehearsal and what will need to be learned outside rehearsal?
- What should singers bring to rehearsal?
- What are your note-taking expectations?
- What is the general layout of your rehearsals? Do you start with warm-ups, go into sectionals and then come together to run pieces? What is the purpose of each format?
- How would you like to be addressed during rehearsal and what topics are appropriate to bring up during rehearsal?
- How would you like questions brought up and which questions are pertinent?
- How would you like to receive feedback from your chorus?
How to Develop Practice Expectations For Your Chorus
Continue on by answering these questions:
- What is the purpose of practice?
- What are the benefits of practice?
- Why is practice time essential for the individual and to their section and ensemble?
- How much outside time is required per week to learn the music?
- How will singers be expected to keep track of their practice time?
- What should your singers practice (technique, vowels, rhythm, pitch, diction, etc.)?
- What environment should the singer practice in?
- What resources are available for practicing?
Once you have your rehearsal and practice expectations written out, formalize your document and share with your singers. Use this document as a review for each concert cycle and when welcoming new singers to the group.
If you don’t have time to develop your own guidelines, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Here’s a template based on what I use for my chorus. Feel free to use this as a starting point and tweak for your own ensemble.
Tori Cook is the former Director of Sales & Marketing at Chorus Connection. She sings with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and is a board member of the Greater Boston Choral Consortium. In a past life, she was the Music Director of the Harborlight Show Chorus and President of Chorus pro Musica in Boston. When not making music, she daydreams about adopting a golden retriever puppy and scuba diving to exotic locations around the world.