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Watch other directors. Modeling your hand signals, body language, and facial expressions off of other directors is the best way to understand the kinds of signals to which experienced singers are already accustomed to.
- Watch videos of other choir directors online.
- Watch live performances of professional choirs and focus on what the director does and how the singers respond to each signal.
- Go to live choir performances and watch the director. Be sure you choose a seat that enables a clear view of the director. Take notes about what seems to work especially well.
- Sit in on a choir rehearsal and watch the director from the singers’ points of view.
Make yourself a “cheat sheet” of signals. Writing down the signals that you plan to use will lead to more consistency when used.
Go big. Most signals must be exaggerated for your singers to see them clearly—particularly with a large choir or with children. However, try not to exaggerate so much that the audience would be distracted by your movements.
Watch yourself directing. Direct in front of a mirror or videotape yourself directing and determine whether your signals are clear.Practice frequently. The more you practice using your directing body language, the more comfortable you will be doing it in front of an actual choir.
- Play your favorite choral music and pretend that you are directing it.
- If you know another choir director, ask if you can “borrow” their (already trained) choir for a part of a rehearsal. Then ask for feedback or tips from the singers or the choir director.
Part 2Assembling Vocal Talent
- Decide whether or not to hold auditions. While holding auditions may lead to a more skilled choir, some choir directors choose to give all those interested an opportunity to participate.
- Plan the auditions. If you decide to have auditions, be sure to do the following steps. If you do not plan to hold auditions, you can skip ahead to the next part.
- Secure a time and place for your auditions. For consistency It may be best to hold auditions in the room you in which you will be rehearsing or performing.
- Advertise your auditions. Think about the types of singers you wish to recruit and plan your advertising accordingly. You may want to start advertising several weeks to a month before the auditions will take place.
- Decide whether to have singers prepare their own piece of music for the audition or sight-read on the spot. This information should be included in the advertisement.
- Hold the auditions. Listening to each vocalist sing and taking thorough notes about their performance will help you in your selection process.
- Evaluate the vocal ability of each singer by noting the range and quality of each voice.
- You may want to develop a short questionnaire for singers to disclose experience, describe vocal range, ability to read music, etc.
- 'Maintain a neutral facial expression during each singer's tryout and be sure to remain professional and polite. Someone's feelings may be hurt by a frown or other reaction to a poor performance, or you may get up someone’s hope by seeming excessively pleased.
- Select your choir members. Determine the number of singers you need, as well as the voice mix you desire then select those singers required.[[Image:Direct a Choir Step 9.jpg|phoning
- If you have very experienced, strong singers, you can form a small group, whereas less skilled singers do better in a large group.
- Ensure that you have the appropriate balance in vocal parts: soprano, alto, tenor, and bass.
- You may make other balance considerations as well. Be sure to consider other aspects such as gender, age, and race to maintain diversity.
- Notify those chosen of your decision. You will need to notify those who auditioned whether or not they were chosen for the choir by writing a letter or posting a list or phoning.
- Be sure to write a short note of thanks to those who were not selected.
Part 3Determining Music Selections
- Select music that is appropriate for the occasion. There are many considerations that influence music selection: Is the choir religious or secular? What season is it? If the choir is performing as a part of a larger event, what is the tone of the event?
- Select music that is appropriate for your choir. Music selections should be based on the skill level of your choir, and should be easy enough that they can be successful but complex enough that they will be challenged.
- Be sure you have appropriate permissions to advertise and perform your selected music. You may want to find music that is in the public domain if you do not have a budget for royalties.
- Interpret and study music selections. It is important that you know how you want the music to sound before you begin working with pieces with the choir.
- Meet with the accompanist to discuss the music and your interpretation of it.
- Become very familiar with the music, including all of the individual vocal parts, and how you will conduct it before going into rehearsal. Do not try to "learn it as you go."
Part 4Holding Rehearsals
- Prepare a detailed rehearsal plan. The plan should include an attendance policy with repercussions for missing practices.
- Include date, time, and place for each rehearsal.
- Your accompanist should be at all of your rehearsals. If your chorus is a cappella or if you are using pre-recorded accompanying music, you do not need an accompanist.
- Begin holding rehearsals.
- When introducing new music, be sure to discuss in detail the musical piece you have chosen.
- Break each piece up into manageable sections. You do not need to work an entire piece in one rehearsal.
- Be consistent with the format of your rehearsals. Start with a warm-up, then move to the sections that are to be rehearsed. Be clear about your goals for each rehearsal.
- Hold sectional or solo rehearsals privately as needed. Working with individuals or small groups can be as important as rehearsing with the entire choir.
- Work with soloists to perfect each's part to make their performance more polished.
- During sectional rehearsals, split the choir into individual voice parts and rehearse each part separately. This way, more time may be devoted to ensuring that notes and rhythms are mastered.
- Reassemble the sections and soloists back together as an ensemble after you are satisfied with their work in sectionals.
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