What makes a great rehearsal?

1f05c77b-c920-4a7d-86ae-66ed30452d8b   I rarely come back from any of my choir rehearsals feeling that we had a ‘bad’ rehearsal. That would be huge failure on my part. Most of the rehearsals are really good! But just occasionally, you get a great one. How does this work!?
Last Monday, my West Bridgford Liberty Singers met up for our pre-gig rehearsal. We are singing in the local pub next Monday and this was our last chance to get things right. The previous rehearsal had been a bit giddy and I’d had to use my teacher voice to gain some sense of calm. I was also very rude about their singing of one song (they took the criticism and sang it again, with much more energy and precision which is what I’d said it lacked.) I will not take ANY of my groups out to sing in public if either they, or the song isn’t up to it. Why would I stand good honest people up to perform a song I know they can perform better? I’d rather leave it a few weeks until the song is in good shape and we are confident with it.
So, the plan for this rehearsal was firstly, to re-assess a bit of ‘paradise’ but George Ezra – I changed the harmony part towards the end. I rehearsed it at home and recorded it so that they could hear what I meant (I then add these things to the facebook group so that people can practice at home if they wish). And that was it – that was all the teaching I did. Then it was a straight run through of all the songs.
I know which songs I thought would be weaker and I gritted my teeth and we got on with it. We were singing songs from right back as far as the first term! Some of our members weren’t even with us when we learned them and although we’ve run through some of the a few times, it’s not been in much detail every time. I took the decision also to record the whole rehearsal so that people could either catch up or hear how good we sounded.
Everything went really well! There was a high level of concentration and many many singers didn’t use their lyrics (this is something I insist on for public performance – I think it looks messy with 80+ people and their folders). When singers look at me conducting, I can get so much more out of them – the detail, those emotional nuances in the music. It’s how we communicate the singing of the actual song as opposed to singing some words to a tune all at the same time. Every song was the best it could be. Even the songs I feared might be tricky were great. I was positive throughout – even when there were small changes to be made (energy, articulation etc).
So was it just because we have a gig looming that everyone pulled out all the stops? By our standards, it wasn’t a well attended rehearsal (88 as opposed to the usual 110-120). And yet, the strength of the sound was amazing. Perhaps it was a full moon?
I’m very interested to know – what do you think makes a great rehearsal? When have you rehearsed and come away feeling totally elated and amazing? What was different about it?
Here’s a short part of the rehearsal – see what you think!

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