How to be clear AND fun with your opera chorus

Many opera choruses consist of amateur singers who are there for the fun of it.

It can be hard for the music director to keep rehearsals fun while getting the production underway, particularly when people have different editions of the score, and may not understand musical lingo to find a specific spot.

Conductor Andy Anderson's answer to keeping everyone on having a good time AND on the same page is to give nicknames to specific passages that he knows will be frequent starting points.

For example in Rigoletto, he nicknamed a spot "Jaws" because it sounds similar to the music of the movie "Jaws." Everyone gets a good laugh out of it, and everyone always knows just what to sing.

Photo from http://www.portlandopera.org/company/chorus


3 reasons why we don't want to practice

We all go through times when we do NOT feel like practicing. But knowing why we do not want to practice can actually help us practice better, so here are three common reasons.
  1. Overwhelmed: Too much music to learn in a too short amount of time can make us scared of practicing because we don't even know where to get started.

    When that happens, the most important thing to do is to find the hardest spots by either playing through the whole music up to speed and see where we fall apart, or listening to the whole piece while looking at the music and marking down the tough spots. It is more manageable to learn a few important spots than to learn three hours of music. 

  2. Negative self talk: We can't practice well when we are harsh with ourselves, so it's important to deal with our fears before we even try to practice.

    Negative self talk can be self-defeatist: "I'll never reach the level I want," "I hate how I play," or "No matter how much I practice, my teachers and colleagues will still think I'm not good enough." It can also be self-pressuring: "I have to prove to my parents that I made the right choice by picking this career," "I'm gonna practice until this spot is absolute perfection"

  3. Fun: Sometimes we don't want to practice because we want to do fun things like hang out with friends, enjoy beautiful weather, or simply sleep. When that's the case, many of us push through that feeling and go practice anyways, and then get frustrated because our practicing isn't going well.

    Why not follow our needs and take some time off? Because we're afraid that if we listen to the voice of fun, we'll never go practice ever again. However, the best practice sessions come from being excited and inspired to play, and that often happens when we have a good balance in our lives.

Photo from http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-violin-on-grass-image15540237
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