Monday, August 21, 2023

Which direction does your choir face?

Do your singers always face the same direction in your rehearsal space? What about outdoor performances?

Maybe it’s something you’ve not thought about, or have just got into a habit without much analysis.

When you go to choir rehearsal each week, there’s a very good chance (unless you work in a circle) that the singers will always face the same direction. It’s what everyone is used to.

But did you make a conscious decision to face that way? Is there a good reason for it?

The shape of the rehearsal space can often limit the ways in which a choir can stand. For a largish group of singers, a choir will usually face the longest side of the room. But which side?

If there are windows in your rehearsal space and you rehearse in daylight, then it’s best to have the singers’ backs to the windows. In this way they can see the conductor more clearly, which is more important than the conductor being able to see all the singers.

When performing outdoors, you would similarly choose to have the sun behind the singers.

Another criterion outdoors is to try to have the singers’ backs to a wall or other structure so that the sound of their voices carries better.

And while we’re at it: do your voice parts always stand in the same relationship to each other?

My tendency was always to have the basses facing me on the right end of the choir and the sopranos on the far left. I’ve no idea why I chose that, but it stuck.

Maybe it’s time to change things, or even mix the parts up more.

In the early days of my first community choir, I decided to switch direction and had the entire choir turn 180 degrees to face the opposite wall. That meant, for instance, that the tenors used to be on the Altos’ left, but now were on their right. It freaked a lot of the singers out and took them a while to get used to!

Try not to get stuck with a particular way of doing things without thought. Stand back from time to time and question your choices.

Starting back after the long break is always a good time to shake things up.

What about your choir, which direction to the singers face and why?

other posts you might find useful

STAB, TABS or ASSBAT – how does your choir line up?

Re-booting your choir: shake things up for a new season

Why do choirs stand in sections to learn songs? Here’s an alternative that might work better!

New choir season, new ideas – but how much can you really change?

Chris Rowbury


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