Maximizing Rehearsal Time, Part One

Have you ever felt that rehearsals end too quickly and performances arrive too soon? MENC member Christina Lamb shares some tips for more effective choral rehearsals.

1. Start on Time

  • Get into the habit of starting on time so students expect it, and don’t waste time socializing as they enter the classroom.
  • Set a timer that will ring right at the start of class.
  • If your school uses bells, start immediately after the bell. Get the students on their feet and focused right away.


2. Have Students Take Attendance

  • Put a class list on a table by the entry, and have students initial their names when they come in. (If you fear they will abuse the system and sign in other students who may skip class, work with your school’s administration to create consequences for such students.)
  • Set up a board with a tag for each student. When they come in, they turn their tag over. Make the back of the tags a different color than the front so you can quickly see which students are “in” or not.
  • Have section leaders take attendance.

3. Take Time to Warm Up
As tempting as it may be to skip this step, take the time at the beginning of every rehearsal to warm up. Your students’ vocal health depends on this. Warm ups help make your overall rehearsal more productive and get your students focused on working and making good music together.

4. Include Sight-singing
Sight-singing regularly will help your singers be better musicians; they’ll work more effectively and musically. Sight-singing doesn’t need a lot of time. Just make the exercises effective and consistent. Make up your own exercises, or use some from books and websites, and include rhythm as well as note-reading exercises.

5. Post the order of music before each rehearsal
Plan each rehearsal so you know what pieces you’ll be singing. Before class, list the pieces in their proper order and tell students to put their music in that order at start of class. If there are particular sections you’ll be working on for a piece, note that too.

Adapted from “Ten Steps to a More Productive Choral Rehearsal”, Teaching Music, April 2005, by Christina Lamb, assistant professor of general music, Ball State University, Burris Laboratory School

Share your ideas for an effective and productive choral rehearsal!

— Sue Rarus, April 7, 2010 © National Association for Music Education