Astonish your audience!
5 top tips to give your choir the WOW factor!
There are many ways in which we can transform our choir’s performance from good to great. Here are five top tips for conductors:
Creating a fantastic performance with your choir is all in the detail. By working with your choir in rehearsals to develop their vocal techniques and awareness of those techniques, you will watch them go from strength to strength. This takes time but with carefully prepared warm-ups and exercises you can teach your singers the main elements. These include breath technique, developing the range, creating clarity with open mouth shapes and front placement plus the importance of good posture.
As these techniques start to form good habits with your choir, your hard work will pay off with a better quality of sound and singers who look and sound confident.
Engaging an audience
Rehearsals aren’t just about learning music. Make sure you include time to work on performance skills with you choir. Teach them to look out at the audience and not just be focused on you. Whilst it is important that the choir do connect with you their conductor, it can be all too tempting to purely do so to avoid looking out. If you use scores practice looking up from the scores rather than having heads buried in them for most of a piece.
You can make this type of performance skill-learning fun buy demonstrating some don’t dos in rehearsal and asking your choir questions about what they expect to see when they are an audience member. Preparing your singers for performance will also help them to feel more confident on stage.
When rehearsing your songs don’t leave out things that aren’t right however small. Tiny elements such as coming off a note together, breathing at the same time when beginning a piece or achieving a perfect blend between the melody line and harmonies can really make the difference when it comes to the quality of the performance.When zooming in cover the specific area in detail and then zoom back out putting it in context again with the piece as a whole.
Now I’m not suggesting for a minute that how a choir looks will necessarily affect the sound, although, I do believe when you feel good about how you look on stage you feel more confident. However, I would stress that whether you wear a more casual uniform with t-shirts or a more formal one with suits or evening wear, a cohesive tidy look will come across better to an audience and look more professional.
Keep an eye on the uniform your choir wears. For example, last year I noticed a lot of the t-shirts my choir were wearing were starting to look a bit old as they’d been through the wash many times. So I did a tired t-shirt appeal offering members a discount if they wanted to update their old t-shirt. You may find you need to give your choir regular reminders about uniform rules so that standards don’t slip or change. Make sure you follow this too as conductor always looking smart.
From the heart
Crucial to a fantastic performance is a connection with the music your choir is singing. You could give the best possible technical performance but if it’s not from the heart, the audience won’t connect with it as much as they could. Think about the theme and emotion of the piece. What did the writer or composer intend? Discuss this with your choir so that they start to think about singing as relaying a story or emotion or idea. They don’t have to be able to personally identify with the theme but singing a piece sympathetically to how it was intended will create that extra magic on stage.
By Christine Mulgrew (first published by Total Choir Resources)