Ever wondered the best way to prepare for a concert with only a few rehearsals left before the big event? The final rehearsals before a gig are really important to ensure a successful event that your group has worked so hard to prepare for. Just like an athlete working to a specific training regime for a sporting event, a singer needs to prepare in the lead up to a concert.
At around five rehearsals out from your gig your singers should be ready to get stuck into the detailed work for as long as it takes to polish a piece. It’s time to start putting the songs together as part the overall performance, rather than stand alone pieces. So here’s my five rehearsal count down to concert day so your choir will be match ready on the day.
5 rehearsals out
Here’s where you should do a straight run-through the entire concert, in the format that you will use for the concert eg use risers and the actual performance space if possible. As a creative director, I find this gives me a good idea of the readiness of the music and how to best use the remaining 4 rehearsals. At Melbourne Contemporary Choir (MCCHOIR) I always record this rehearsal onto a computer program like Logic Pro X, so I can go back and nut out any trouble spots. We even upload recordings of the choir to our members-only website so that everyone can have a listen. It’s a great idea to sit down with the recording and the music and note any mistakes, balance problems or tuning issues.
4 rehearsals out
So now you’ve listened to the recording and made some notes – spend the entire rehearsal working on just those trouble spots. Now is not the time to be singing music the choir knows (I know that’s the temptation, because it’s fun to sing stuff that sounds great – but remember after today you have three rehearsals left). You can even play back sections of the recording in the rehearsal as a teaching tool to demonstrate things you want to work on. Don’t overdo using recordings that demonstrate flaws though – keep it positive and focused around things that the choir can do to improve their overall sound.
3 rehearsals out
This is what I like to call “spot rehearsal” – checking the spots that you worked on in the previous rehearsal and anything that you didn’t get a chance to rehearse last time. Spend time nutting out any problem sections that you feel need more work to give your singers confidence. Encourage your singers to put the music away for pieces you intend to do without copy (i.e. not looking at the printed music). This will ensure all your singers are looking at the director rather than having heads buried in music. It has the added benefit of requiring your singers to know their stuff which results in about a 40% improvement in the over all sound I’ve found.
2 rehearsals out
This is where you go back to rehearsing as much of the music as possible. Since you’ve worked on spots in the last couple of rehearsals, you want to put these back in the context of the whole song. This way your singers will be thinking about the musical effort needed for the whole concert not just the trouble spots. This is a good rehearsal to rehearse in the actual performance space with risers if you can.
So there’s also some things to consider in these last few rehearsals that you should address before the last one:
The last rehearsal
So the dress rehearsal has arrived, what do you do with these last precious moments you have with the choir or vocal group? This rehearsal needs to include all of the instruments you will use.
You should sing through each song fully but don’t worry if you need to work on particular sections. Start with a piece that needs the most work and keep the rehearsal to time (last thing your singers want is a long rehearsal before a performance).
At this stage if you’ve been working on pieces for some time, its easy for the choir to become a little too comfortable and a quick pep talk to keep the energy up can go a long way.
Keep positive, negative feedback at this point won’t bring out the best in your singers – usually the opposite is true. You want to build the confidence of your group and encourage them towards their best singing.
Ensure your singers get enough rest and drink plenty of water 24 hours before the performance so the vocal chords are well hydrated. Remind them of the warm-up times and give any final instructions and provide info sheets with the details of the event.
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Melbourne Contemporary Choir
Jason or (Jase) as he likes to be called is Founder & Creative Director of Melbourne Contemporary Choir (MCCHOIR) and is a passionate musician who wants to bring his love for music to a broader audience.
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