World Choir Games Flanders 2021

What to do when you run out of ideas

  • [The views expressed in this blog are from my personal experiences from 25 years of leading non-auditioned community choirs in the UK, as well as adult singing workshops. My focus is on teaching by ear using a repertoire of songs from traditions across the globe. Your experiences may differ from mine, so do feel free to leave a comment and let's begin a conversation! A version of this article first appeared as a post on my blog From the Front of the Choir]

     

    It comes to all of us at some point. We sit down to plan a warm up or rehearsal or singing workshop and we just go blank.

     

     

    That’s exactly how I’m feeling now writing this blog post! Here are a few ideas that might help.

    Sometimes you have to do things when you don’t really want to. You might be ill or bored or a bit low or too stressed or not have enough time. But the thing needs doing and it needs doing now because that’s the when it’s due.

    It could be planning your next choir season, choosing songs for a concert, creating a warm up session, planning a singing workshop.

    When you’re not in the mood, it’s often hard to come up with ideas.

    Always start from where you are and use that. If you are very low energy, don’t plan a choir session full of movement and high energy singing. Use your low energy and work from there. If you’re feeling a bit angry or fed up, try to channel that energy effectively.

    I was once feeling so ill that I decided to do the warm up with everyone seated. That led to lots of interesting things that I hadn’t expected.

    Here are a few hints that might help.

     

    • repeat – do something that you’ve done before. Even if you’ve done it hundreds of times, there are always benefits to repeating something.
    • copy – find an idea that inspires you and copy it. You won’t end up doing it exactly the same way. You’ll inevitably put your own spin on it.
    • modify – do something you’ve done before, but make one small change. Or do it backwards. Or faster. Or whilst moving around.
    • simplify – when you’re feeling bereft of ideas, don’t think you have to come up with something earth-shattering. Keep it simple. Just keep doing it and it may turn into something else, or you might find that simplicity reveals things that you need to work on. See Sing something simple (and see if you singing is as good as you think it is)
    • develop – take something you’ve done before and just take it that bit further. You might not have any ideas when you start, but if you stay open to the idea of development it’s surprising what might pop up.
    • delegate – just be blank and get others to do it for you. I once had no ideas for the warm up, so I divided into sections like: stretching, first sounds, resonance, listening, harmonies, range, etc., divided the choir into small groups and asked them to each run a section of the warm up using exercises we’d done before
    • ask – ask for help. Don’t feel you have to do it all by yourself.

     

    I hope you find some of these hints useful. At least it helped me write my blog post!

     

     

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    Chris Rowbury

    website: chrisrowbury.com
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