Monday, October 18, 2021

Choir leaders: how do you give individual attention in a room full of singers?

Often, as a choir leader, I notice one person who is not quite catching on for some reason.

How do I give that person individual attention when they are just one in a room full of singers? Here are some ideas that might help.

Many times in the warm up I see individual singers stretching too much, or I notice tension arising where it shouldn’t, or I find someone in a different rhythm to everyone else.

It wouldn’t take much to correct them. In a one-to-one session this would be straightforward, but there are loads of other singers who also need my attention.

How can I help an individual without side-lining everyone else?

Here are a few ideas that might help.

  • address a specific instruction to the whole group – even if it’s just one person who is not getting the interval right, or who has tension in their shoulders, or who is off the beat, it can be useful to point it out to the whole group. Without singling that individual out, of course! Even if the majority of singers are getting it right, it’s always helpful to point out dangers or specific techniques to the choir as a whole. You’ve then helped that individual without identifying them and given a useful reminder to all the other singers.
  • single out a whole section – a related technique to the above, but a little more focused, is to give a detailed instruction to an entire section even if only one individual within that section seems to be struggling. There’s a good chance that plenty of other singers are having the same difficulty.
  • divide the group into pairs – this works great in warm ups where you can get individuals to give feedback to their partner. It’s a level playing field because everybody takes turns at being the subject and the person who feeds back. You can also use this technique within or across different harmony parts. It’s a great way to tighten up tuning and to get people to listen to each other more closely. Whilst all the singers are working in pairs, you can also wander round and help individuals.
  • give individual tuition – only use this if everything else fails. Or if a singer has a very specific difficulty that is not shared by anyone else. Instead of singling them out, you can offer a small number of individual tuition slots to the choir as a whole. You then have to hope that the individual you’re targeting actually signs up!

How do you cope with individuals that need help? Do you have other ideas that would work in a rehearsal without singling people out? We’d love to hear from you!

other relevant posts

You might also find these posts useful:

Dealing with individual singers in a large choir

There's always one! – coping with different singing abilities in a small group


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Chris Rowbury




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