fredag 29 mars 2013

Responsibilities of a choir director

We have a new choir director, which has got me thinking about what the position entails. Some of the essential requirements are so basic and practical that they get taken for granted.
  • The director should know what pieces of music each of the choir members has learned and can sing reliably.
  • The director should have a good idea of the capabilities of the choir and select music which is just within the members' comfort zone, so that they are challenged without being unduly stressed or becoming demoralised due to over-reaching.
  • If it is apparent that a piece of music is close to the limits of a choir's capability, the director should recognise this promptly and not waste endless amounts of time trying to get the choir to master it.
  • The choir should be supplied with clear and legible music to sing from. A lot of musical scores leave much to be desired; singing from them can be like trying to find a path through an overgrown wood. A particular difficulty can be when the music is written out for the first verse, but the other verses are not quite the same.
  • Gregorian chant scores should be in the correct Gregorian chant notation.
  • Ensure that older singers have legible scores since they may have difficulty in reading smaller sizes of type.
  • The choir should be supplied with a calendar of events and times well in advance.
  • The members of the choir should know exactly what they are going to sing, oagain in advance so that they can put their music in order before they arrive for the final rehearsal. This information should be provided clearly and on paper.
  • Where multi-verse pieces are sung alternately between men and women, clear instructions should be given regarding who is supposed to be singing what.
  • When music is being sung in parts, the choir director should make sure that all of those singing the parts actually know the music, otherwise those who have learnt them can end up losing their parts through being led astray by those who have not learnt them, standing alongside.
  • The choir director should listen to and be sensitive to choir members' requirements and need for clarification, in particular when they are lacking in confidence about their ability to sing their parts.
  • A choir director should be sensitive to the selection of music. Cliche music (classic favourites) or music which has suffered from over-exposure should be avoided. Difficult cliche music should be avoided like the plague. People are going to get to hear this music somewhere, whether they want to or not, and if they really want to hear it they can go to a concert or buy a CD.
Good artistic performance is grounded in sound basic practicalities. Anyone taking on the job must be prepared to put in quite a lot of preparation time, so it is quite a demanding task - probably not one that can be done voluntarily or single-handed by anyone who also has to earn a livelihood.

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