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Anyone ever conducted a choir?

(9 Posts)
badhotfanny Wed 24-May-17 05:38:41

I am conducting a choir during a church service in a few weeks - some trad hymns, a couple of modern hymns and a couple of choral pieces.

I've never done anything like this before and am feeling quite nervous. Does anyone have any tips for me, please?

I've only just got over feeling a complete fool when waving my arms around but haven't actually rehearsed with the choir yet - that is for this week's rehearsal - and I'm nervous!

MrsBadger Wed 24-May-17 11:59:38

They know the pieces already, right? They just need someone to stand at the front so they can look at? Is it a big experienced choir or a normal parish one entirley composed of old ladies?

Regardless, make sure you know all the pieces really well
Practice beating time at correct tempo for each one - in fact practice conducting to recordings, esp any tricky entrances
IME you need to emote like a loon to get them to look up from their copies, smile and articulate.

Good luck

MrsBadger Wed 24-May-17 12:00:49

oh and make sure the organist / accompanist can see you via whatever arcane arrangement of mirrors, cameras etc is used

badhotfanny Wed 24-May-17 19:57:50

Thanks MrsB.

Unfortunately the choir are not experienced and we are still learning the hymns/pieces! So I'll have to muddle through. And I'll be the only person who will be able to see the accompanist. It's sounding better by the minute!

MrsBadger Wed 24-May-17 21:01:47

In some ways that's easier as they won't be expecting much more than for you to give them the beat and smile encouragingly - you'll be fine grin

badhotfanny Wed 24-May-17 22:59:38

Thank you!

TheMaestro Thu 25-May-17 21:21:36

Choirs, particularly amateur choirs, need someone to teach them initially. So you have to be prepared with knowledge of all the parts so that you can spot where any mistakes are happening, and be able to sing it back to them correctly. And it certainly helps if you've got a decent, patient, accompanist.

When it comes to actually conducting them, it's a lot different to dealing with an orchestra! They basically want to see a strong and stable clear and firm beat, with entries spoon-fed to them. Mouthing the words over distinctly often helps as suggested above.

I'm sure you'll be fine! If everyone is trying their best to come together, you'll usually manage to muddle through.

Blossomdeary Thu 25-May-17 21:31:23

I have conducted choirs for the last 30 years. Are you going to get a rehearsal with these folk before the "event"? Are you supposed to be taking this rehearsal?

Above all else you need to try and make sure that they (and you) enjoy yourselves - that is what music is for.

They need clear leads, a clear beat and a smile from you. But what you will probably get is a row of hair - I tell my group that I know every follicle on their heads! - they get the hint and look up! There is nothing more frustrating than working your tripe out at the front and everyone has their heads buried in their music!

How did you get roped in for this?! I am sure you will enjoy it - just look confident. I am assuming the congregation are not paying to be there.

mycavitiesareempty Mon 29-May-17 23:19:57

Are they learning from scores or rote learning from you??

Either way, could you record then burn the different parts onto CD- Sop/ alto/ tenor/ bass and plead with them to practice at home??

Failing that I think:
mouth or sing along with the parts having most trouble;
Sing in/ lead in the parts, with very exaggerated hand movements;
If tuning is an issue, literally show where the melody is going by raising/ lowering your hand;
Layer the parts, ie get sop to practice first, then alto etc. Then, get sop and alto to sing together etc...
Warm-up exercise töö. Helps get people going.

They are just my ideas from singing in a community choir.

Good luck!

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