How do we go about planning each term? What guidelines are there for choosing songs?
Here are some things I consider when planning a new choir season:
- keep them on their toes – I hate complacency (see Breaking the habit of a lunchtime). When people get into habits they stop listening and learning. So I try to come up with warm ups, exercises and songs which the choir might not expect, so it’s not the “same old thing”
- vocal development – I might have noted particular areas that the choir needs to work on vocally, so I’ll work out some new exercises and songs that might help.
- familiar vs. new – too many new songs can be overwhelming, so I always make sure there are some familiar songs brought back from our existing repertoire. Sometimes in a different guise or with a different approach (see 10 ways to breathe new life into old songs).
- something to aim for – people like to have something to work towards. Even if you don’t have a concert lined up, try to create some event or challenge that the choir can build up to.
- mix it up – make sure the new songs you introduce have sufficient variety. A mix of simple/ complex, long/ short, slow/ upbeat, loud/ quiet, etc.
- don’t repeat – as well as keeping a good mix of new songs, make sure that you’re introducing countries of origin and genres which are not just a repeat of last season.
- concert coming up? – make sure you don’t introduce too many new songs so you can leave plenty of time to freshen up the repertoire you’ll be singing in the concert.
- seasonal songs – always a handy way of choosing repertoire. Spring songs, winter songs, summer songs, Olympic songs, songs about ice, etc.
- themed season – another way of coming up with a season of songs is to choose a particular theme (maybe tied in to a forthcoming concert). Songs about trees, songs from Mexico, water songs, love songs, rhythmic songs, etc.
- know your material! – (NOTE TO SELF) whichever songs you choose, make sure you know them well before you teach them.
I hope you have a great autumn season (or spring if you’re in the southern hemisphere) and discover some fantastic new songs.