How to Direct a Choir
As a choir director, your job is to shape the sound of the choir, teach the music, and evaluate and correct any problems within the vocal performance. Here are some steps to help you successfully form and direct a choir.
Learning Hand and Body Language for Directing
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.
Assembling 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.
- 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.
Determining 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."
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.
Preparing for a Performance
Decide what type of clothing or uniform your choir will wear on performance night.All of the members of your choir should have coordinated outfits that do not distract from their performance and that look professional.
- Church choirs may already have choir robes. Be sure to communicate with the church organizers about choir expectations.
- Other types of choir groups, such as school or community choirs, may not have preexisting uniforms, but may wear white shirts with black pants or skirts.
Teach your choir that details are important.While secondary to singing, skills such as taking a bow together at the end (if applicable) or sitting and standing in unison can make the difference between an amateur and professional looking performance.
Advertise your performance.Be sure to include detail such as time, date, and place of performance, featured singers, and hosting organization. Include ticket prices or suggested donation if applicable.
Hold a brief warm-up session prior to the performance.Warming up will ensure that your choir is ready to sing, and you can be sure that everyone is present.
- Try not to introduce any new information before a performance; instead, try to “fine tune” things that you have already worked on.
- Give a few last-minute reminders if necessary, but try not to overwhelm your choir with different things to remember.
Begin the performance.Be sure to communicate with the director of the event about how and when to begin the performance, as well as where the choir should sit or stand both before and during the choral performance.
- While directing, be consistent. Use the cues, hand gestures, and facial expressions that you used during rehearsals.
After a performance, praise your singers privately.Save any constructive criticism for the next rehearsal: tonight, let them shine!
QuestionHow do I get them to sing in their key instead of siging all over the place?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou should always start a choir rehearsal with some warm ups. This not only prepares the choir to sing, but it also forces them to listen to each other. Running some scales and arpeggios, for example, is a good way to do this. If there is a chord or part of the harmony that they really aren't getting, I find that the best way to teach it is to isolate it. Focus on just that chord. Have each part sing their note (bass, then tenor, then alto, then soprano). Then build it up (have the bass hold their note, introduce the tenor, then alto, then soprano). Choir directors have a tough time when it comes to this as, depending on one's situation, well-trained singers aren't always available.Thanks!
QuestionCan a choir/chorus member both direct and sing at the same time?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThey can, but it definitely should be avoided if possible. The choir director should be aware of all sections of the choir when conducting. This is quite tricky to do while singing, especially if you are singing something contrapuntal. In this situation I think the best course of action would be to assess whether you think you require a director or extra chorus member more. Depending on your choir and the pieces you are singing, you may not need a choral director.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do with my choir to warm up?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt's usually a good idea to start with some physical warm ups like stretches (to engage the choir). Then go for some breathing exercises (breathe in for 4, out for 8 / 12 / 16). Then I'd normally do some vocal exercises like arpeggios moving upwards or downwards chromatically. After that it can be quite good, if you have time, to run through something the choir has already learned. You can also find a lot of good PDF documents with additional choir warm ups aimed at amateur choirs with a quick Google search!Thanks!
QuestionHow is a light sound created?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerA light sound is usually created by getting all of the choir members to sing quietly but at an audible level.Thanks!
QuestionWe are planning a thousand voice choral concert. What is a good ratio for each range?Michael MaysCommunity AnswerBalancing vocal forces is tricky at any level, but managing this large a group actually simplifies the situation, in that you'll have a much broader cross-section of available voices (large ones and small ones) that can be balanced out within each part. Generally, your groups should be more or less equal in size, though some favoring should be given to the lower voices. Sopranos and tenors are traditionally singing in ranges that acoustically favor their notes more than do altos and basses, so beefing up those sections is frequently more advantageous.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I keep the tempo when directing a choir?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou could snap along to the beat, or clap or tap something. When you direct, your hand creates that little pattern depending on the time signature, so just make a dramatic movement with your hand when you hit a beat.Thanks!
To direct a choir, try watching some videos of other choir directors online and modeling their hand gestures, body language, and facial expressions. You can write down some of the signals you plan on using on a cheat sheet so you don't forget. Then, practice directing in front of a mirror or record yourself so you know what signals and gestures you need to work on. Remember to exaggerate your movements enough so the choir can see you, but not so much that it's distracting to the audience.
- It is important to emphasize good singing techniques to your choir at every rehearsal. Good posture, proper breathing, tone quality and articulation all lend themselves to a smooth, solid performance.
- Hold a critique session after each of your choir's performances. Provide constructive criticism, positive feedback and discuss options for correcting any issues.
- Work on diction, dynamics, and phrasing with your choir.
- As you read through and conduct the music alone, determine the dynamics of the music and the mood you want to set as your choir sings it.
- You should do some research into the history and context of each piece of music you choose for your choir.
- Emphasize the importance of the singers attending rehearsals on a regular basis. This is for the good of the group as well as the individual.
- Subtly separate yourself from the singers to make sure you have the authority you need when dealing with issues and problems. You do not want them to view you as their contemporary, but, rather, as their leader.
Sources and Citations
In other languages:
Español: , Русский: , Deutsch: , Português: , Bahasa Indonesia: , Français: , Italiano:
Video: HOW TO DIRECT A BLACK CHOIR - EP. - 6
Classic from Start to Finish: a Timeless Wedding by Stephen DeVries
How to Clean Orange Stains in a Shower
How to Cook Honey Doughnuts
The Number Of Steps It Takes To Lose 5 Pounds
How to Pay Bills Online
How to Merge PDF Files
Nondrug Remedies Can Ease Psoriatic Arthritis Pain
6 Surprising Ways To Use Canned Salmon
MCFridayTreat: Win A Personalised Uzma Bozai Bomber Jacket Worth 350
How to Reference Sources on wikiHow
Online Dating Profile for After 40
Protein Shakes For Weight Loss: 8 Fat-Shredding Recipes To Try
How to Make a Simple Cannon Rocket Launcher
There will never be another opportunity