Saturday, August 3, 2013

Learning on Your Own

This article is lifted from Chris Rowbury's excellent blog: Front of the Choir ... don't take my word for it go there for loads of useful tips about how to become a better chorister, both individually and as part of the collective.

A concert is looming and there are a couple of songs you don’t know that well.

You’ll need to put in some practice at home, but how do you rehearse on your own?

These methods apply equally well whether you use sheet music or learn by ear. In both cases you don’t want to be holding pieces of paper in the concert!
  • Sing along with a recording – the best way to learn a song (music and words) is to keep singing it. If you sing along with a recording (make sure it’s the same arrangement as the one you’ll be performing!), you’ve got constant reinforcement. 
  • Sing against other parts – if you’re lucky enough to have a recording of the separate parts, don’t just sing along with your own part. Sing against the other parts in turn. This will ensure that you won’t be put off when singing with the whole choir and will also allow you to feel how the harmonies work. 
  • Spend more time on verse 2 – and verse 3 and verse 4 ... It’s often the case that verse 1 is sung many times when a song is first taught and the danger is that when you come to the other verses, they’re seriously under-rehearsed. 
  • Learn words while you sing – don’t try to rote learn words from the page like you do with poems and speeches. Song lyrics are stored in the brain along with the melody, so sing the words as you’re learning them. 
  • Find a buddy – practice together with someone else from your part for a bit of moral support, but more importantly find people from other parts and form a little trio or quartet. If you can really nail the song in a small group, then singing with the whole choir will be a breeze. 
  • Practice while doing other things – often  you think that you’ve got a song under your belt at home, but when you’re in concert things go wrong. It’s different learning under calm, controlled conditions at home and being in front of an audience. To help prepare, make sure that you practice the song under a range of different circumstance: whilst washing up, driving, making the bed, getting dressed, going out for a walk, etc..

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