Harold Hill might have been on the right track with The Think System in Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man. No, I’m not talking about him conning all of River City, Iowa into paying money to have their children join together to form a band through some “professor” who always avoided giving his credentials. Rather, he always told the young members of the band to “think the tune and they will know how to play it on their instrument.”
The more I rehearse with different ensemble, whether we haven’t met in a week since the last rehearsal, or combining several sections we just rehearsed, I have the choir walk through the music with me. We start at the beginning, and I loosely “act out” phrase by phrase what is important, whether its dynamics, diction issue, a tricky passage that we’ve ironed out but previously gave us trouble. Depending on how much of a piece we are about to run, this could take anywhere from twenty seconds to a minute.
Some of my colleagues would argue its a waste of time, better used actually singing the passages. But I’m learning they are more likely to perform better the first time, as opposed to rehashing over mistakes that they’ve made previously; they sing smart (see next post for more on this). And for anything else, my acting seems to be rather entertaining to the choir which definitely lightens the mood!