I observed Central Presbyterians Church Choir. The choir is very small, with around 10-15people, most of which are men. The director is not a vocalist or conductor by any means. She is a trained organist. There are paid experienced section leaders within each section. I thought that it would be extremely interesting to see how a community or church choir rehearsal differed from public school situations, because we haven't discussed that area of musical possibilities as much this past semester.
The director started the rehearsal with some simple warm-ups. The exercises she chose were obviously picked out for people that may not be as experienced of singers. She used simple ideas and tried to focus on one very small concept throughout the warm up.
After the warm up she reviewed familiar music that was to be sung at the following mass. There was apparent material that saw cross over from the earlier warm up. She would run each piece and then pick it apart and work on pitch and rhythmic issues within each section.
Following review of the pieces, she would pull out new music to work on the choirs sight reading abilities. They sang all the way through the piece before stopping to work on spots. She would identify problems in each section and work on individual parts so that they would all feel comfortable before putting them back together. She said that she uses these new pieces in future masses.
The most interested part of the observation was the fact that she barely ever conducted. As an organist, she would sit behind the keyboard and play with the choir. Even with a choir lacking experience, they managed to sing together and in time with a simple entrance cue. I think knowing that you don't always have to be standing on a podium is something that is of value. There are many other ways that you can run a rehearsal.