Monday, July 01, 2024

How can you keep your singers energised?

No matter how engaged your singers are, there will come a time in any rehearsal or workshop when the energy is low.

Time to energise your singers! But how can you do that?

There are many reasons why energy may slump during a singing session. Hopefully it’s not because you’re boring your singers!

your singers have day jobs

If you’re lucky to have younger singers in your choir (!), there’s a good chance that they’ve had a long day at work before they arrive at rehearsal. And if your rehearsal day is toward the end of the week, then they will probably be knackered.

It’s your job, as a choir leader, to wake your singers up, to excite them and engage them at the start of each session. Much of this can be accomplished through the warm up by including physical exercises as well as silly games.

Then launch in to a couple of well-known high energy songs to kick the session off well.

See How to pace yourself in choir rehearsals and singing workshops.

working on new material can be tiring

It could be that you’ve been working away at a new, perhaps complex, song and people are getting tired and their energy is flagging.

One way around this to make sure you don’t spend too long on learning new material. Spread learning over several rehearsals and sprinkle each session with some well-known repertoire. Or maybe split the learning of a new song into sections and alternate with familiar material.

Of course, it could be that you’re flogging a dead horse and the song is simply not working for your group. In which case check out If a song’s not working, when do you stop flogging the dead horse?

two hours is a long time

It may simply be that singing for up to two hours is tiring. There will inevitably be times when energy drops. What can you do then?

As soon as you notice an energy slump, introduce something fun and physical. Not too complicated, maybe something the singers know already. Or it could be as simple as getting everyone to stretch up then walk round the room. Get the blood pumping and wake those bodies up.

I tried something with my choir once which never quite worked, but I still think is a good idea. I introduced a series of actions and sounds that would be triggered by specific cues.

For example, I would shout “rock you!” and everyone would do that bit from the Queen song: stamp, stamp, clap, “yeah!”. Another one was I’d shout “floor” and everyone would touch the floor with both hands, then reach for the sky shouting “Wee!”.

These interventions could happen at any moment: in the middle of the warm or a song.

The trouble is, I’d get so engrossed in running the session that I would forget to give the cues! One way round this would be to set a series of random alarms on your phone (different timings each week) to prompt you.

See If the energy in your choir is low do you go with the flow or wake everyone up? and How to pace a long singing workshop effectively.

go with the flow

If the energy of the singers drops, rather than fight it, you could go with the flow. Get everyone to lie on the floor and do some vocal work. Choose a song that works well sung really quietly and use it as an opportunity to work on breath control.

See No energy? Sing different, sing better! The ideas in the post apply equally to singers as well as choir leaders.

Chris Rowbury


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