In Cantala, practising the music at home between rehearsals in not only expected, but keeps you up with the pace of learning in the choir and increases your own musical enjoyment. So how does one rehearse on their own? Here are my tips for successfully learning choral music at home.
1. Sing and accompany yourself on the piano, or another instrument (guitar, violin, cello etc): If you have access to a piano (or other instrument), play along with yourself singing at your own tempo. This is a great way to learn the notes and words to the song slowly and at your own pace, especially if the words are in a different language.
2. Have someone (the conductor!) record the notes on a recording for you. This way you have the correct notes and tempo on your own recording and you can sing with it to learn the notes and the words. This is handy if you don’t have access to a piano or your skills at your musical instrument are not efficient enough to help you to learn.
3. Sing along with a recording. The way to learn a song (music and words) is to repeatedly sing it. If you sing along with a great recording you get a sense of the shape of the song from beginning to end, and you have constant reinforcement for the correct notes and words.
4. Spend more time on verse 2, 3, 4……It is common to know verse 1 the best as it is sung many times over when the song is first introduced. Take the time to repeat the other verses to avoid them being under rehearsed.
5. Sing the words to easily memorize them. Song lyrics and melody are stored together in the brain, so singing the words helps to put them to memory easier than just speaking the words by rote. I also find for visual learners that singing and writing the words down on a piece of paper is also very effective.
6. Find another chorister(s) to practise with. This is especially effective when they are singing a different part than you. Form a trio or a quartet with them (fun!). If you can sing the piece in a small group then singing it in the choir will be much easier.
7. Practise the song while doing other activities. For instance, like driving, cleaning up around the house, cooking, going for a walk, or in the shower. If you can sing the piece under circumstances other than in a concentrated, peaceful practise environment, when it comes time to singing in performance you will really feel you know the piece well.