Sunday, December 29, 2013

Putting your house in order or how to clear up after a busy choir season

The choir season is over and the holidays are here. If your workspace is anything like mine, you’ll have sheet music scattered over the floor, piles of random notes from choir sessions, possible songs for the new season, CDs out of their cases, and various other flotsam and jetsam liberally sprinkled around the room.

messy office
photo by Jeffrey Beall

Time to get things sorted!

reflect and improve

When I was a university lecturer we were encouraged to reflect on our own teaching practice. All good teachers and choir leaders (and singers) need to do this, whether your boss is breathing down your neck or you are freelance or ‘just’ a singer in a choir.

In addition to the reflecting you do between individual choir sessions, the break between choir seasons (or ‘holiday’ as some wags call it!) is an excellent opportunity to sit back and ponder on where you’re going, how you can do things better, what things need to change, and so on (more on this in next week’s post).

time to organise

There is also the very practical need to clean up your workspace. Not only the papers on the floor, but your computer filing system, work processes, workspace furniture and layout, and more.

Don’t rest on your laurels. No matter how great your last season or concert was, it’s time to clear the decks, get things sorted, and start the new season with a clean sheet (and clean workspace).

Here are some of the things I’ll be doing. You might want to make a to-do list (that’s how I function best) in case you miss some things out. Your mileage may differ.

  • gather the notes you made for each choir session last season and archive them
  • pick up all the sheet music used last season and file it accordingly (so you can find it again when you need it!)
  • make sure your filing system is still fit for purpose (how do YOU file your music? – alphabetical? by genre? by language? by voicings?)
  • set aside any sheet music that needs tweaking, re-arranging, binning or otherwise changing – add notes to help you
  • gather together all the new bits of sheet music lying around that you’ve not yet taught
  • put the CDs back in their cases and file them properly (so you can find them later!)
  • put to one side any new songbooks or CDs or sheet music or other sources of new songs that might be of interest next season
  • sort and tidy any lyric sheets you use to teach – whether it’s A4 printouts or large A2 sheets for the walls – archive them (so you can find them again easily!)
  • go through any music on your computer – sheet music or recordings – either archive, mark for editing, or flag up for possible use next season (and is your filing system still fit for purpose?)
  • make sure you’ve updated any online resources for your choir (e.g. the choir website): list of repertoire, parts recordings, concert recordings, lyrics, rehearsal schedule, dates for next season, etc.
  • go through your “I’ll just put it here and deal with it later” pile and either file it, bin it, or use it next season – this might be repertoire ideas, warm up exercises, suggestions for enlivening an existing choir song, names of books you want to buy, phone numbers of useful contacts, etc. etc.

Depending on your particular choir set-up, there are bound to plenty of other tasks to add to this list. Do leave a comment and let me know some of the things I’ve missed.

Happy tidying!

Chris Rowbury




Chris Rowbury


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