It is not too early to begin planning to make that first rehearsal SENSATIONAL!
Create “I can’t wait!”
Start spreading around how fantastic that first rehearsal is going to be. In a way, you can make it a self-fulling prophesy.
I have talked to some directors that are cautious about “overselling” the first rehearsal, but I am convinced it is easier to make that rehearsal sensational, especially if everyone is expecting it to be.
And when I say “spreading it around,” use every method at your disposal. All of it!
Today I saw a new 9th grader working at VBS and I told him that I can hardly wait to have him in high school choir. Then, I mentioned the start date.
Another high school parent was working in another VBS room and I mentioned all the great fundraising opportunities that we will be talking about on that first rehearsal. The fundraising will help families raise the money to go on choir tour.
And, of course, do all the usual things: texting, calling, direct mail, e-mail, Facebook page, tweet about that first day. This is NOT an exhaustive list, so come up with creative ways to get the word out.
Another way to build excitement is to get juniors and seniors to be in the Sunday School departments the two Sundays leading up to that first rehearsal inviting the new 9th graders (or, perhaps, the new 6 graders in your situation)
Do a full court press! Here is the goal. EVERY high school student (every junior high student) knows that the place to BE on that day is rehearsal.
Again, Cathy has written some great articles about how to build community within the rehearsal. Look back through Cathy’s community building blogs on CUEweb.
But here are some additional ideas.
Remember that the number one reason students come to choir has little or nothing to do with the music. They mainly just want to be with their friends.
Don’t fight that—instead, ride the wave!
Plan into the rehearsal some opportunities for students to get to meet some of the other kids.
One idea is to have a “mystery” 9th grader, 10 grader, 11th grader and 12 grader. In advance, pick one student from each grade who you KNOW will attend the rehearsal. Swear them to secrecy—no cheating for your friends.
Find out some unusual things about them—they may have lived in 5 different cities, have 5 pets, have 5 siblings, have 5 computers—whatever! Find out some stuff. Print it out. Hand it out to everyone.
On the GO signal, see who is the first in five minutes to come up with the “mystery students” for each grade. Make it 5 minutes or LESS to create a bit of frenzy in the room. The winner is the first in line for food that day!
And speaking of food, even if you don’t normally have food at rehearsals (wait! really!? no food?!) have it that first day. This gives the choir the chance to stand around, eat and talk.
Create a Great Rehearsal Plan
It is really becoming a theme within CUEweb; first with Cathy emphasizing having a well-planned fall retreat. I want to add my voice of “well-planning” to the mix to get ready for the best rehearsal ever—for the first rehearsal of the fall.
First, do some creative, fun warm-ups. Jonathan has some great warm-ups, but here are a couple more.
The most important thing is to use the warm ups to teach the kind of sound that you want them to achieve.
I use the “world’s shortest relationship” as one—using pitches 1, 3, 5, 8, 5, 3, 1—Hello, I love you, good-bye.
Also, using the same arpeggio, “I love to eat _____ and sing.” Have them add a one syllable word for what they like to eat—cake, fries, junk, snacks, chips, whatever.
One more: try the usually mah, may, me, mo, moo, but instead do all the other consonants too. For example, bah, bay, bea, bo, boo: cah, cay, key, co, coo; or day, day, dee, do doo.
Ask a student (junior or senior) to be prepared to lead a short devotional and lead the choir in a prayer.
Now, creatively introduce the first song.
I have put several choices out there in previous blogs, you can check those out.
OR if you would like help developing a creative way to introduce your opening anthem (or any anthem), give me a call. I will be glad to help. (832-320-8156)
After singing two or three songs, take a break and do a community building exercise either like the one mentioned above, or one of Cathy’s great ideas. But give the students a minute or two to talk, meet new people in their sections, etc.
Then, sing some more. But end the rehearsal with one of the traditional songs that you bring back year after year. That way, the last song they sing is an immediate success, because it is familiar to a good number of the students.
Finally, have some parents or sponsors set up food (preferably in ANOTHER room from the rehearsal) so that the students and adults can spend time together.
If your rehearsal backs up to another scheduled youth event, stop rehearsal a little early and allow time for the food and being together. I know it is hard to give up rehearsal time, but the community building is worth it!
Even more “finally”, ask two trusted students and two trusted adult sponsors to give you honest feedback on the rehearsal to help you plan for the next week.
Honest evaluation is essential. Since the director has to continue to look ahead and lead in the moment, no director can see (and hear) all that is going on in a rehearsal.
Having some eyes and ears in the choir can really help ensure continued success.
June 22, 2015