Most singers arrive at the evening rehearsal tired and exhausted after a long day’s work (whatever that may be), so it’s important to begin with a good physical warm up. Calisthenics “wake up” the body, through stretching, bending, jumping and so on. Additionally, “yawning” and relaxed humming will get the voice warmed up gently. I emphasise the word gently here!
Learn your part before coming to the rehearsal. At singhealthy we now produce rehearsal tracks on CD for each vocal section and you should make good use of these. Being hesitant slows down learning and gets in the way of good vocal technique.
‘Relax’ is the most common word uttered by me at any singhealthy rehearsal. Singing successfully really is about being relaxed and comfortable. Don’t wear high heels or tight clothing or anything that can restrict your ability to stand up straight.
Pleased, please, please, please take this advice. Not only is chatting disruptive to others (particularly the conductor!), but it tires the voice.
Hold the music so you can see it easily without bending. Remember, you have to be able to see the music and the conductor so don’t slap your music file directly in front of your eyes. When you stand to sing keep your back straight – shoulders relaxed, feet slight apart and never locked rigid. After all you are singing not on ‘guard duty’. Whilst sitting up straight can seem like hard work, it is less tiring in the long run.
You must continue the breathing exercises you do at rehearsals. These are probably the most important set of exercises you can do between rehearsals. No one can give you a magic formula to good breathing technique. It is up to each individual to train their own breathing patterns. If in doubt, talk to your conductor.
SING THE RIGHT PART
We all love to sing a tune. A choir however, is made up of people singing different parts of an arrangement through a different vocal range. Don’t be coerced into singing a part where you cannot reach the notes, even if this means you have to sing a different part from those singing the tune. If you give it time you will come to appreciate how important all the sections are and how they all contribute to the overall sound of the choir.
Remember: There is no Gain in Strain.
Most of the discomfort you can experience when you sing is because you have not formed your words correctly. Singing is not like speaking. You have to open your mouth wider to get the correct word sound when singing higher up the scale, whilst you must get the correct mouth shape to make words audible when singing the lower bands. The key is relaxing the jaw, lips and mouth to ensure maximum mobility. Follow the exercises you do during your rehearsal warm-ups and practise these at home during the week.
Don’t put stress on you voice by singing loudly in order to be heard, or to hear yourself over other singers generally puts stresses on the voice. At all the singhealthy choirs we do ask that ‘egos are left at the door’ Demonstrating your vocal dexterity, especially in a loud way, is not the best way to get someone’s attention in a choir — it doesn’t contribute the overall choir sound and, I’m afraid, it is usually resented by fellow singers!
If you need to check the accuracy of your pitch, simply put a hand over one ear and you will hear yourself quite clearly.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Being a choir member is the same as being a member of an athletic team, and you have a responsibility to safeguard your health. Partying should be postponed until after the final performance. Get plenty of sleep and aerobic exercise. “Hydrate”, drink plenty of fluids in order to reduce irritating phlegm. Use common sense when you’re sick – miss a rehearsal rather than sing over a cold.