Carefully Crafting the Choral Rehearsal III: Success Tips

What makes a successful choral rehearsal is anticipation, tight planning, a sense of forward moving progress, and the joy that comes with mutual respect for each other and for the process involved in creating excellent music together.” –– Sue Young, (MENC Choral Mentor, October 2008)

Successful rehearsals are planned. Learning doesn’t happen by chance, but by thoughtful and creative planning.

  • Have expectations and goals for each rehearsal. What do you want to accomplish today?
  • Devise a strategy for achieving it.
  • Evaluate each rehearsal, and determine its success.
  • Plan the goals and activities of the next rehearsal based on these results.

MENC Choral Mentor Mary Jennings advises: “Have clear expectations and a logical sequence of meaningful, musically-oriented activities.”

Successful rehearsals are organized. Construct a rehearsal so it builds momentum as the singers’ concentration focuses and their voices warm.

Begin with warm-up exercises that address body posture, breath management, vocalization, and acquisition or refinement of skills. This is a must!

Warm-ups can:

  • encourage healthy singing
  • reinforce technique
  • focus concentration
  • encourage corporate identity
  • refine listening skills
  • help singers acquire new skills for rehearsal that follows.


Start by singing something fairly well-known that just needs review or polishing.
Move on to more difficult or challenging pieces that require core concentration or effort.
Introduce a new piece or focus an extended portion of rehearsal on serious study of a particular work, section, or rehearsal problem.

“Always sight-sing at every rehearsal.” –-Mary Jennings

Conclude with a well-known song or one that the choir has rehearsed earlier and should now be able to sing with confidence.

The rehearsal should have a sense of closure and end on a positive note. Students will leave feeling a sense of accomplishment, no matter how small.

Successful rehearsals call for doing.

Explanation is important, but talk less about the music and sing more of it.”–David Brunner

Involve singers directly in the active experience of music reading, listening, singing, and critical evaluation. Modeling is valuable, but have your students sing more than you do.
Guide students to discover and make musical connections on their own.

Summarized from “Carefully Crafting the Choral Rehearsal” by David L. Brunner (director of choral activities, University of Central Florida, Orlando), published in entirety in Music Educators Journal, November 1996.

Sue Rarus, August 20, 2008, © National Association for Music Education