Singing in a choir can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences, but one you will enjoy more if you know a few ground rules before jumping in. Today I want to share with you ten pieces of advice that every amateur and professional chorister should know and follow.
1. Try your best to not listen to those around you. Unless they are perfectly trained professionals, listening to them will cause you to pick up their bad habits.
2. Balance is all about variety. If the person next to you is singing softly, then increase your dynamic. If they are singing a bright “a” vowel, then make sure you darken yours.
3. It’s important, for reasons of vocal health, to always be able to hear yourself. Thus, rather than to sing during the dramatic, emotional moments of a song, drop out completely.
4. Accuracy is very important in choral singing. When singing, and especially during performing, keep your eyes fixed on the music in front of you. Only look up when you absolutely have to, such as when walking off the stage.
5. If you hear anyone, in any part, sing something that is incorrect, especially when sight-reading, make sure you point it out immediately to the conductor. Don’t wait for the right moment. The right moment is now.
6. When the conductor gives the starting pitch, hum it until the song begins. That way you can make the pitch your own.
7. In your spare time, listen to as many different versions of the music you are singing as possible. That way, you can inquire (politely, but firmly) why your conductor is not doing it like Choir X.
8. Remember that, while you may be singing in a choir, you are above all a soloist. If your friends in the audience can’t hear you individually, then you must work harder to project your voice.
9. Humility is important in a choral setting. If you don’t have the right sheet music, rather than making a big deal out of it before the rehearsal, wait until the choir is about 10 minutes into rehearsing the song, and then quietly ask everyone around you for extra copies.
10. At the end of the day, choir is all about having fun. If you’re not having fun, maybe you need to change seats. Maybe the air con is not quite right, or the repertoire does not suit your voice. Don’t be afraid to let your conductor and fellow choir members know about these things.
Whether you choose to sing solo, or become one of the many soloists that make up a choir, with these rules may you enjoy many fruitful and glorious years in the spotlight, where you belong!