photo by Toni Verdú Carbó
Or maybe your choir doesn’t perform. In which case what’s the best length for a really good singing session? One hour? A whole afternoon? An entire day?
Of course it’s a bit like “how long’s a piece of string?”, there are so many variables.
If you’re working towards a gig:
- how familiar is the choir with the concert repertoire?
- how complex and long are the songs?
- how many songs are you doing in the concert?
- can everyone be at every rehearsal?
- are there limits to the length and number of rehearsals you can have?
- how close to the concert are you?
- how regularly does your choir perform?
- are there instrumentalists or other choirs and singers involved?
If you’re a non-performing choir:
- what are the aims of your choir: singing for fun? improving vocal technique? learning challenging songs?
- what is the availability of your singers: drop in? daytime only? lunchtimes?
- can you build week on week or are the sessions self-contained?
- what experience do your singers have? beginners? advanced? sight readers?
- is it a learning by ear choir or do you use sheet music?
However, there are some general rules of thumb which are applicable to most rehearsal situations.
rehearse just enough – and no more. You might have three hours at your disposal, but if you get a sense that things are going well after an hour, stop. Don’t overtax the singers.
space sessions effectively – the best way to remember something is to revise it just before you forget it. The newer a song is, the more frequently you’ll need to revise it. But as a repertoire builds up, songs will need to be revisited less often.
singers get tired – yes, singing can be energising, but you need to be aware of the context. Singers are capable of sustaining concentration for longer if they’ve not come from a full day of work. Weekends are best for longer sessions.
keep a perspective – it’s very easy when you have a deadline (like a concert on Saturday!) to lose sight of how important things are. It’s only a bit of singing, not a life and death situation. Try to keep a good humour throughout and maintain a healthy perspective. Calmness spreads (as does panic!).
other relevant posts that you might like to readWhat are rehearsals for exactly?
Over-rehearsed or under-prepared: which is better?
When rehearsals go bad
Balancing fun with rehearsing for concerts
Why too much rehearsal can be a bad thing
How many songs can you teach in an hour?
How long does it take to learn a song?
Why ‘singing for fun’ doesn’t mean low standards and poor performances