Monday, June 15, 2015

Choir and workshop leaders: make sure you’re on the receiving end from time to time

I like being in charge, as do most choir and singing workshop leaders. Our job mainly consists of telling people what to do and helping them to sing the best that they can.

ABBA, Brussells May 09 (1)

Trouble is it’s easy to forget what it’s like to be on the receiving end of that. Which is why I always try to attend other singing workshops as a normal participant.

We plan every choir rehearsal or singing workshop carefully: we are in control, we know what’s going to happen next, and if we’re lucky we get good results. We try hard to empathise with our singers and use our skills to help them in the best way we can.

But sometimes we forget what it’s like to struggle to learn by ear, or to wrestle with foreign lyrics, or to listen really hard to nail a tricky harmony, or not to chat whilst other sections are learning their part, or to be a stranger in a large group.

The only way to really understand what it’s like to be one of your singers is to put yourself in their place.

Any good choir or workshop leader is always looking for ways to get better at what they do. In professional terms it’s called Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

One easy way to learn about teaching and choral directing is to be a singer in a singing workshop or choir.

It’s amazing what you can learn from being on the receiving end. You will

  • get an insight into what your own singers experience;
  • sample another leader’s style;
  • learn some new teaching methods;
  • possibly find out what not to do in a workshop;
  • discover what it feels like not to be able to hear the whole;
  • get the chance to hand over responsibility to someone else;
  • be subjected to some of your own teaching methods;
  • notice when you get tired or over-burdened;
  • realise which conducting gestures work best ...

... and much, much more.

So what are you waiting for? Go and sign up for a singing day or scratch choir or even join another local choir for a term.

Chris Rowbury




Chris Rowbury


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