Preparing for a Concert

Bishop Wordsworth Choir

Possibly my favourite quote of all time is:

“The amateur practices until it’s right. The professional practices until it can’t go wrong”

Now before we start, I should say from the outset that whilst I subscribe to the principle of this quote, I would be the first to admit that I don’t always achieve it, either in my own performances or those of my choirs.  But that’s no bad thing and I think it would be very arrogant to suggest otherwise.  My view, particularly where concert’s are concerned is to always do the best I can and help my choirs to do the best they can.  Realistically you can’t ask for more.

So, you’ve been working hard for a few months, learning some new songs or polishing up some old repertoire in readiness for the big concert.  Here are some of the key things you can do to improve your performance:

Focus on the repertoire:

I know it sound’s obvious, but in the lead up to a concert it’s always a good idea to focus exclusively on the repertoire you will be performing.  Yes it’s always nice to look at new songs or sing through old favourites but in the weeks leading up to an important concert it’s vital to focus your singers on the music in question, particularly if they are required to learn it from memory.

Attend every rehearsal:

I don’t tend to make too many rules about how many rehearsals people have to attend.  But I do ask people where possible, to attend at least the 3 rehearsals prior to a concert.  Whilst every rehearsal should be important, it is those immediately before a concert where the final performance details are agreed and any last minute changes confirmed.  There may also be instructions on how or where to stand to achieve the correct balance with the voices available for a concert.

Treat every rehearsal as a performance:

Right down to how you are going to stand and indeed where you are going to stand.  Try to always have your choir lined up as if they were on stage, even in rehearsals.  It’s a small detail but it means that everyone will be comfortable when they get up in front of an audience.  It also means you can work on the balance and know how the choir will sound at the performance.

Knowing when to stop:

Sometimes, particularly near a concert, rehearsals don’t always go exactly to plan.  We’ve all been there – the pre concert rehearsal (sometimes on the day) and nothing goes right.  Some people actually see this as a good thing and the assumption is made that for a good concert you have to have a bad rehearsal beforehand! I don’t think that’s a wise generalisation to make, however true it might sometimes seem to be!  If you find a rehearsal isn’t quite going as planned or nothing seems to work on a particular week, that isn’t the end of the world. Often there is a simple explanation: Are all your best singers away that week? Is it a particularly hot and stuffy day and the practice room is not ideal for singing? Maybe the choirmaster has had a bad day and is not 100% either?  Yes, it does happen!

Enjoy the moment:

For me, the best bit about being in or running a choir, is taking part in a concert or performance.  Ultimately that’s what it’s all about.  No matter what else happens or indeed what’s happened in rehearsal, go on stage, smile and give it your best shot.   I always remind my choirs that a live performance is just as much a visual affair as an audible one.  The audience want to see you so make sure you look like you’re having fun!  Chances are then you actually will enjoy the experience!