Sunday, September 15, 2013

How long is the ideal choir session?

There’s a gig coming up and you’ve still got work to do. Do you keep bashing out the notes until everyone’s perfect or do you rehearse ‘just enough’ and then go home?


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 read

What 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

Chris Rowbury’s website:

Chris Rowbury


Get more posts like this delivered straight to your inbox!

Click to subscribe by email.


found this helpful?

I provide this content free of charge, because I like to be helpful. If you have found it useful, you may like to ...

... to say thank you.





Monthly Music Round-up: