Monday, May 30, 2022

Why you shouldn’t rely on another singer in your section to know the songs

I wrote last week about what to do when important singers are missing and a concert is due.

photo by Ben W

I mentioned the drawbacks of singers relying on others in their section to know their part. I’d like to go into that in a bit more detail.

In each harmony part there is often at least one singer who picks things up quickly. They might also appear to be confident and relaxed. In which case it’s very tempting for other, less-confident singers to be drawn to them, believing that they really know what’s going on.

Firstly, that’s not necessarily the case – see Why being a confident singer is not always a good thing in a choir.

why you shouldn’t depend on another singer

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it’s a very bad thing to rely on another singer like that. Here’s why.

  • You’re avoiding taking responsibility for learning your part. This means that you might not do your homework thoroughly as you believe there will always be someone else to help you out.
  • Your focus will be on one other singer rather than your choir leader and the other harmony parts and singers in your section.
  • You are placing a lot of unnecessary pressure on someone who has come to sing and have fun at choir. They don’t want or need any extra responsibility.
  • You make yourself extremely vulnerable by relying on a single person. If they don’t turn up for rehearsal or a concert, what do you do then? Panic?
  • If your choir leader moves singers around, you might end up not standing near or next to your chosen singer.
  • Although you believe that they know your part well, you might be mistaken and be following somebody who is consistently getting things wrong.
  • By relying on somebody else to support your singing, you will never be truly present when a new song is being taught or rehearsed. You will find it harder to hear how all the harmonies fit together and to blend with the other voices in your section.

a silver lining to the pandemic?

Many choirs went online during the pandemic. This meant that singers were often alone in a room at home, singing by themselves. Many singers told me that it was a bit of a shock at first. They thought they knew their part well, but being forced to sing alone they found they were a bit wobbly. However, over time, they began to take full responsibility for learning their own part (there was no other choice!). This skill and self-awareness was then taken into rehearsals when choirs were back working in the room.

taking responsibility will free you and makes you a better singer

When you stop relying on somebody else as a crutch, you will find that you become more aware of all the different voices and harmonies in the choir. You will also feel much freer as you can move around and stand next to different singers (and different harmonies) and feel comfortable and in control.

Chris Rowbury


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