Last night we had our first quartet tests in my choir this year.
I had forgotten just how much I love them.
Not because of the abject fear in the eyes of the new members of the ensemble. I’m not villainous.
I love quartet tests because they enforce accountability. They demand students to put in the personal effort to become proficient. Then, there is the moment of recognition during the test, when they realize what they know and what they only thought they knew.
You don’t know your music unless you can sing it as a solo.
Quartets are good for the team – the most successful quartets are the ones who have taken a little time on their own ahead of the test. Quartets are good for the ensemble – musicality generally takes a giant leap forward immediately after the test. The relief of singing with the entire group again is palpable, and you start to appreciate just what your section neighbor is bringing to the group.
I wouldn’t use quartet tests in every choir – a non-auditioned choir is liable to lose members at the threat – but in an auditioned, high-level ensemble, not only are quartet tests appropriate, they are vital. They help your choir to grow.