N ARTICLE came up on my Facebook today and I just want to share it. The article is entitled: “Practicing Choral Music: Ten ideas the singer who doesn’t think they can practice on their own”, was written by Doreen Fryling, who also happened to be a “lifelong practice avoider” according to herself. In her article, she listed ten ways or methods to help singers practice on their own. Even though this article is written for, I believe, professional musicians, music students and those who can read music, but some of her methods can be helpful for ordinary parish music programs, where half or most of the choir members don’t read music.
For those who read music, you should try all ten methods; for those who cannot read music, you should at least try the first three methods and always bring a pencil to rehearsals (method 9). The first three ways to rehearse on your own can be done by anyone, whether you have musical background or not: (1) Start with the text, (2) Listen to a recording and (3) Analyze your music.
The text of a piece of Sacred Music is the ”soul’’. Singers must understand the text in order to make the Liturgical piece a prayer to God. With the technology nowadays, translations and recordings can be found easily. Try to listen to a good recording and that should help you get an idea of the melody and the basic structure of the piece. And don’t forget to mark your music for any repeats, dynamics, special rythms and notes from the director. Doing the first steps should help you learn a new piece easier and quicker.
If you are a director, consider taking an extra step. Send an email with links to good recordings or even make your own recordings. Choir members always appreciate the extra efforts. But make sure you also spend some time at the beginning of the rehearsal to help your singers to read music, so they won’t just rely on the recordings. I have been doing it myself ans it makes my rehearsals more efficient and enjoyable. Share the article with your choir members and encourage them to at least do the first three steps on their own. The other steps become the responsibility of the director in most parish situation and that’s why we have rehearsals.