In a choral rehearsal, better organization means better efficiency. Better efficiency means higher achievement in rehearsal. Higher achievement in rehearsal means higher quality performances. So, organization and efficient habits can really be helpful.
Before sharing three ways to be better organized/efficient in rehearsals I want to make a disclaimer. Choir directors work with people, not machines, which means things don’t always happen according to plan. Even with great organization, flexibility and a willingness to improvise and adapt to a music need immediately in rehearsal is often necessary. (I have also posted this post on another blog of mine, Michael’s Whole Notes, that is being used for a class.)
Way number 1: Have an efficient check-in system for singers.
When they enter the rehearsal room and check-in, have a quality system that allows you to spend the least possible time. If you have a reliable student, have them take attendance, or have a self check in system. If you must do it yourself, have it be something that you can do in a minute or less (as in a system that assumes everyone is present and you only mark those absent and adjust for those who come late after rehearsal). If you can save a minute or two per rehearsal (as opposed to a traditional system that requires personal check-in every time for every person) you can easily gain between a half hour to an hour and a half of practice over a nine-week span.
Way number 2: Write the piece rehearsal order on a white board for all to see.
This can especially be valuable if you have a large amount of repertoire. If singers have their music in the correct order when rehearsing, it vastly cuts down transition time when switching between pieces. You could save 10 to 15 seconds every switch which could add up to a minute or two per rehearsal. Again we’re talking about a half hour to an hour and a half of additional practice per quarter.
Way number 3: Use wait time when giving instructions.
This is a bit of a paradox. I tend to move fast in rehearsal, so this is something I work on constantly. When you stop the choir, wait for a couple of seconds before giving instructions. After giving instructions, wait for a couple or few seconds before starting up again. I can testify firsthand that when you don’t do this, some singers will get lost with where you are in your instructions or even with a starting point in the music. This will force a repeat and create lost time. With younger singers that may have attention issues, not having the wait time is exceptionally challenging for them. By using the wait time at starts and stops, though it seems like an eternity at times to the director, you will move much more efficiently through the practice and actually save time.