By Marvin Copaus
Whether you’re leading rehearsal for a church choir, orchestra, or praise team, the way you approach that rehearsal will go far in determining how well things go. Here are some tips to make sure they go well.
1. Plan at least four to five weeks ahead. This gives your group plenty of time to learn whatever you’re working on and ensures they worship rather than struggle with notes and rhythms.
2. Be prepared. Know what you’re going to rehearse. Know how much time you’ll spend on each piece. On new pieces, spend a little time on the most difficult sections first. This will expedite learning the rest of the piece. Spend time getting to know the music long before your group sees it. Know the music well enough that you can help others learn it as well.
3. Respect everyone’s time. In other words, start on time and end on time. Starting on time shows that rehearsal is important, and it encourages latecomers to get there a little sooner. Ending on time helps people know that you not only respect the time they’re giving, but that you understand that they have obligations outside of choir.
4. Remember warmups. This goes for instrumentalists, and especially for vocalists. A few minutes spent warming up will help tone and prevent vocal strain.
5. Challenge them. Of course, not everyone in your group may read music (unless they are in your orchestra). They still need to be challenged musically to learn more about what musical symbols mean. You may even want to plan a choir retreat where basic music reading is part of the schedule.
6. Stretch them. In addition to choosing music most everyone can do, choose music that will stretch even your more talented musicians. Stretching their comfort zones helps the musicality of the entire group. Use a different style or tempo of music. Be willing to help your folks stretch beyond the same old thing musically.
7. Teach proper technique. Teach them to breathe from their diaphragm. Teach them to sit up (or stand up) straight, have their head in line with the spine, and feet shoulder-width apart (for standing choir members). Teach your choir members the proper use of vowels while singing. It will help them sing or play better and feel better while doing it.
8. Keep things moving. Know when to move to the next piece of music. Short breaks in which you share a tidbit are fine, but keep them making music.
9. Share deep truth. Take time during each rehearsal, either before a piece or at the end of rehearsal, to share a solid biblical truth. This can be Scriptural background about a song, or a devotional thought. The important thing is to make it meaningful.
10. Remind them of their high calling. Help your folks remember that rehearsing is not just for the purpose of performing well. It’s to work, both individually and as a group, to present an offering of praise to God. That offering is not just for Sundays during worship. In fact, what we do on Sundays should be a natural outflow of our worship the rest of the week. Rehearsing is more than learning notes and rhythms. It is also an act of worship. Do it all for the glory of God!
About the Author: Marvin Copaus is Sales Manager at Brentwood Benson. He has been with the company almost 20 years and in music ministry 40 years. Marvin and his wife Rita live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee with their two sons, along with several dogs and cats. Marvin currently serves churches in Middle Tennessee by doing international interim music ministry.