Monday, March 09, 2020

Back to basics: how to reawaken your passion as a singer in a choir

Do you find doing the same warm ups week after week a bit dull? Are you bored with the same old repertoire?

It might be time to revisit the basics of why you joined a choir in the first place and what inspires you as a singer. Read on to find out how to reinvigorate your singing as a choir member.

same old, same old

Doing the same thing week after week can become dull after a while. But that’s pretty much the definition of a choir rehearsal: repeat until perfect.

If your choir rehearsals have the same pattern each time, it’s very easy to stop paying attention and to lose interest. There might even come a point where you find that you’ve lost the joy of singing entirely.

There is only so much within your control when singing in a choir. Your choir leader will usually determine the songs you sing, where you stand, what warm ups you do, how you learn and practice a song, and so on.

If you have an unimaginative choir leader or one who likes routine, you may find that every rehearsal is pretty much the same. That can soon become boring.

Instead of simply zoning out or even thinking of leaving, one solution is to go back to basics.

back to basics

If you find that singing in your choir has lost its sparkle, the one thing you have within your power (other than leaving or ousting your choir leader!) is to change your attitude to what you’re doing. Remind yourself why your wanted to sing in the first place and what it is that you got from being in a choir.

Don’t give responsibility for your singing entirely to your choir leader. See Have you become too dependent on your choir leader? You might be denying your own abilities and Don’t let your choir leader do all the work – realise how capable you are as a singer. There are many steps you can take as an individual to revitalise rehearsals.

Going back to basics involves asking simple questions like:

WHY am I doing this?

HOW can I do it more effectively?

WHAT other ways are there of doing this which achieve the same end?

WHEN is the best time to do it?

I’m not going to give you specific answers here because it depends on your own choir, your particular singing style, how experienced you are, what repertoire you sing, etc.

But I will give some examples to demonstrate how you might proceed.


“Why do we do this same warm up exercise week after week?”

It may be that you’ve forgotten why, or perhaps your choir leader has never got round to fully explaining the reasons behind each exercise.

However, you should trust your choir leader and assume you’ve been asked to do it for a good reason. Come up with a plausible explanation which will motivate you. It doesn’t matter if it’s not exactly the same explanation that your choir leader might give.


“How can I do this more effectively?”

Rather than simply going through the motions – especially if it’s something that you do every week – really focus on what you’re doing. It might be a specific warm up exercise, or a way of breathing to sustain a drone, or balancing your voice with those around you.

Approach it as if it is the first time you’ve done it. Pay close attention to your own actions, physical tensions, mental state, etc. and also of those around you.

Is there anything you can relax in your body that you don’t need to be holding on to? Can you move position slightly in order to hear the other singers better? Does your body slump as you come to the end of your breath?


“What other ways can I do this?”

You might have exhausted the ways in which you can do something more effectively. It might be that you are being as effective as possible given the circumstances. In which case, you can change the circumstances.

Do you always have to stand in the same place? What if you try something sitting down for a change? Use your imagination to approach something in a completely different way by visualising different circumstances.


“When is the best time?”

There are many things you can take control of which are not dictated by your choir leader.
For example, you can experiment with breathing in different (maybe even counter-intuitive) places in a passage. Note the differences. If there’s an improvement in the phrasing or your ability to sustain a note, then maybe you can change to this new breathing pattern.

Just because your choir leader asks you to stretch in the warm up stage at the beginning of a rehearsal doesn’t mean that you can’t stretch at any other time. Inevitably tensions will creep into your body as the rehearsal progresses. Find quiet moments to stretch those parts of your body that will help you. Only you will know when and how.

your choir leader’s role

Ultimately your choir leader is in charge. Any of the choices that you make by going back to basics must fit in with what your choir leader is asking of you. Many of the actions outlined above can be taken in private without disrupting anybody else. Keep it that way.

If there ever comes a point where you continue to be bored or lack motivation, despite trying to get back to basics, it might be that this is the wrong choir for you.

But before you think of leaving, give some feedback to your choir leader. See Tell your choir leader what you’re struggling with, otherwise they can’t help you. It might not be obvious to your choir leader that some singers have lost their mojo.

If you do decide to leave, you might find this post useful: How to find the right choir to join

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Chris Rowbury




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Chris Rowbury


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