Every year at retreat, my students and I talk about year-long goals. I ask each of them to bring three goals for the group, which we share late one night, and three personal goals, which they share individually with me. (I share my goals with everyone.)
One of my big personal goals for this year was to make the last rehearsal of each month piano-free. (I rehearse once a week, so that’s equivalent to No-Piano Fridays for curricular choirs.)
No-Piano Fridays do lots of things for you and your choir.
- You must audiate the music better.
- Your choirs cannot rely on the instrument for their confidence.
- You hear the choirs better.
- Your choirs hear each other better.
- You spend more time singing and no time playing parts.
- Playing parts on a piano can be very un-vocal; demonstrating them by singing allows you to show so much more than notes and rhythms.
It has forced me to know the music better, forced my students to listen harder to each other, and improved rehearsal efficiency. Having them know it’s coming has kept me accountable (though I cheated a little last night with a keyboard app, playing more than just opening pitches…).
There are a lot more Fridays left in the year – why not make some of them No-Piano Fridays? Take out a piano key, lock it up, and away you go with pitch-pipe in hand.
It’s a little scary, but it’s good for everyone. I’m going to keep at it, and will consider making it even more frequent as we get later into the year.