I gave a little speech to the UConn Concert Choir about a year ago. UConn’s been in transition, so the singers have missed out on a degree of continuity, and the result has been that not everyone got the fundamentals. My speech was intended to sum up the fundamentals so that everyone was on the same page.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized being in a choir is easy! There are just two rules:
1. Always sing your best.
2. Do as you are told.
Rule 1 always takes precedent over Rule 2.
That’s all there is to it.
The first rule makes singers accountable for themselves: healthy singing, good posture/alignment, singing only as loudly or softly as each individual can healthfully and comfortably sing, shaping vowels in the way that their voices require, singing the right pitches and rhythms (which means knowing their pitches and rhythms), being musical, connecting fully to the emotion in the music, etc.
The second rule ensures that singers conform to the conductor’s or group’s musical vision–when to breathe, when to cut off, phrase shapes, etc. It also covers behavioral requirements, like no texting during rehearsal, always having a pencil to mark their scores, etc.
I tried to think of things that I require of singers that don’t fit in with these two rules, but everything seems to fall into one of these two categories: good singing and following instructions.
So easy, anybody can do it!