Congratulations! Choirs and small singing groups are gradually returning – at least in some regions. Many have not commenced performance yet, but very hopeful that this will begin in the coming weeks. While the situation is looking hopeful and encouraging in the return of choirs and singing groups, we must prepare and look at possible strategies at getting everyone up to speed and on the same page.
No doubt, some may have become “rusty” and unwilling to come back, others may feel they have found more profitable ventures to pursue.In my other posts, I dwelt extensively on the impact of the pandemic on music groups as well as navigating the crossroad musicians will face.
In this post, I will be drawing our attention to preparatory steps to take as singers begin to come together. What are the likely things or approach music coaches or directors should take during the first few weeks of choir resumption?
Please get past the urge and pressure to swing right into rehearsal or practice in your first few meetings.
Some of the activities have been broken into weeks below on what you can do on resumption.
THE RETURN OF CHOIRS AND SINGING GROUPS WILL DEMAND A LOT FROM MUSIC STAKEHOLDERS
FIRST AND SECOND WEEK
Well, this reminds me of the “first day at school”. Everything may feel new and a bit strange. Don’t be surprised, some singers or members of your choir may be overwhelmed at the first meeting. Take a roll call during your first meeting. This will enable you to know those that are absent. Be sure to follow up with a call thereafter.
If this is not done, absentee members may have the feeling that they are not valued or are not important. Do not allow members to be the first ones calling and asking why they were absent at rehearsal. If you have lost one or two members due to the virus, be sure to observe a moment of silence and honour (this should be the first thing to do)
After the roll call, allow an interactive moment to enable members to catch up on themselves. It’s important they loosen up and be themselves ones again. You could have members talk about how they fared during the lockdown; how they also kept fit or unfit. Make the first two rehearsals if possible, more like a “homecoming” or reunion gathering.
You could also introduce team bonding activities at subsequent rehearsal days. Its important singers are relaxed and feel comfortable before turning to whatever form of singing.
Ideally, you should spend at least the first few weeks paying attention to how relaxed and comfortable your singers are.
THIRD AND FOURTH WEEK
The holidays are over you’d say. It’s time to gradually get back to work. Like I mentioned in my previous posts, many music directors may face challenges during the first few weeks of a comeback due to the break in performance and practice.
Spend time during these moments warming up and taking everyone through a music and exercise drill. You see, the dangers of starting with signing before vocal and physical warmup are that it could lead to some vocal damage.
These are an unhealthy vocal practice that should be corrected. Imagine a footballer who wakes up and heads to the field and start to play with others. He risks the chances of having muscle pull and other related muscle issues and discomforts. The same happens to singers especially when trying out a technique not familiar with or have long forgotten.
Vocal health tips and care are other areas you could also invest in. The reason for this is not because many singers aren’t aware, it’s necessary to let them know how important this is in how fast their recovery rate will be.
A singer who before the lockdown may have added some weight. This will impact his or her singing and performance skill.
IF YOU WANT TO START SINGING SO SOON, INVEST IN VOCAL HEALTH TIPS AND WARMUPS
One of the advantages of a review is that it allows feedback and also enables you to project. Make the most use of how a return can allow you the opportunity to look back and correct mistakes and shortcomings.
To also ensure everyone is on the same page and carried along, you must make them understand where the team stopped before the lockdown and where you would love them to be.
If you have videos and pictures of past performances, you could share them. The importance of this is for everyone to see where the team was and where they are at the moment.
This will motivate and spur them as well as letting them also know if they have improved or made progress.
Depending on certain factors like how well the team is coping, you may start introducing once again singing. This is also dependent on the state of their voices. For instance, introducing tough or complex songs right away may not be helpful to weak voices or tired minds. Start with simple pieces. If you perhaps see that your singers are far up to the task, you can take it higher to something more complex.
It may be a bad idea preparing for a concert or major performance within the first quarter of choir resumption. Take your time and spend most of it relearning the skills and techniques once again.
The return of choirs and singing groups may be viewed by some as too early, we are glad its coming. If your choir meets once every week, you may want to extend this paying attention to the assimilation or readiness level. It is most important that at least for the first quarter of choir resumption, there should be consistent training. A well-trained team will deliver far more than a well-rehearsed team. A well-rehearsed team will only be limited to the song rehearsed while a well-trained team will deliver beyond. You could also structure your training such that issues around their challenges and shortcomings in certain areas are addressed.
This is the best time choir directors and music instructors can give back to their choirs and team