Rehearsal and Concert Observations
On 4/24, I attended a choir rehearsal at Totino-Grace High School and observed the Concert Choir. It began like any other rehearsal, with Terry Voss, the director, warming the students up at the piano with various scales and arpeggios. The only problem, was he failed to tell me that the kids were going to be working on their Pops Concert material so the students were working primarily on choreography for the rehearsal. After that, I left bummed, wondering what I was going to write about, but to my luck, when we went to Central High School for our final rotation, we were not actually supposed to be there so Martha let us observe her leading the rehearsal. So, my observation is of the women's choir we have been working with, also the men's choir which meets right after the women's choir. The best part of this rehearsal observation is that we have been working with these girls, but have never seen Martha work with them. For this rehearsal, she worked primarily on sight reading in both choirs, but it was probably the most helpful rehearsal I have gone to in a long time. I had no idea where to start with sight reading with my students in the future but I learned many things. Among the things I learned are :
1.When using sight-singing and warm-ups with the men's choir, using these exercises as a chance to try to get the guys' changing voices to match pitch is a great idea. Some struggled more than others but by the time she was on to sight-singing, more of the guys got the hang of where their voices were supposed to be.
2. Don't ALWAYS sing with the group during sight-singing. I feel like it might be helpful if they get stuck in a rut or need a little help, but singing with them all the time does not encourage them to try to learn the sight-singing on their own.
3. Ask questions! I remember in high school when we did sight reading, we never were asked any questions about the example. We were give the first note and were told to go. I think I would have learned more if the director would have asked us analytical questions about the example like Martha did (i.e. what key? what scale?, etc).
For my Concert Observation, I attended the "Divas and Desserts" concert put on by the Twin Cities Women's Choir on 5/3. This choir is directed by Mary Bussman, who oddly enough just happens to be the principal of the elementary school I will be student teaching at next spring. It was a great concert not only because of the music, but because watching Mary was always interesting. She made conducting look really easy. She always had clear prep beats. For a song in 4/4 she gave two prep beats, and for a song in 2 she just gave one. Her cutoffs were always clear and her left hand independence was always used very clearly. She started things low enough that she never ran out of space in the air with a gesture. She also incorporates her whole body into her conducting which seemed to make it easier to keep the choir involved. The choir as a whole had amazing vowel formations, so while the singers were not all professionals and classically trained, because they had matching vowels, their colors matched. There were only a few things about her conducting I was unclear of. Firstly, whenever there was a cue for a suspension, she would do this very unique hand flick gesture, which seemed to work very well with this choir, but I am not so sure it would work well with every choir. Also, sometimes her left hand independence got repetitive and she used the same gesture over and over again and I can see how that would be a bad idea for a choir because she got some of the same sounds on parts I don't think she wanted to happen. Overall, it was a very good concert and her conducting made me very excited to get out there and conduct!!