Three Views of the Choir

Last rehearsal, I had a student who wasn’t able to phonate (still at rehearsal, though!). He listened with score in hand and asked to stay after to ask me a question?

“How do you decide what to work on?”

In other words, with all the things to be fixed, to work on, how do you pick?

I told him that there are three views of the choir you have to keep in mind at all times, and that it only works with advanced planning.

A. The Long View. You have to know where the arc of the year is going. I know we will perform May on April 16, so I need to plan accordingly.

B. The Medium View. You have to know where this rehearsal is going. I know I want May memorized next week, so I need to rehearse accordingly.

C. The Close View. You have to react in the moment to the problems that need solving. I discover that the basses are missing two pitches in measure 25 of May, so I have to respond accordingly.

Every view is informed by the view above it. No successful rehearsal can come without preparation and reflection on the longer view. Without A. & B., rehearsals will become strictly reactive without progress made on larger goals. For example, I know that my ensemble was sinking in the first six measures of May last night, but I don’t know the reason yet and it wasn’t part of my medium view goals for the rehearsal. So I left it alone except to reinforce the tonality during those measures.

We can’t possibly succeed without knowing where we are, where we want to go today, and where we want to be in a month.

The challenge is to keep all three in mind at all times, and use that insight to craft effective rehearsals.