How To Learn Your Music Quickly
by Nick Papageorge
Submitted by Dave Gunther, editor Whittier Choralaires, "SHOWCASE"
Dave asked me to write about ways that you can learn your music quickly and efficiently. Here are some simple, yet effective, steps you can take to help you in the learning process:
- Bring a mechanical pencil (not a pen) to every chapter meeting and mark your music with the director's intelligent and musical observations. A mechanical pencil does not need to be sharpened and errors or changes can be erased. Notations on your music will help you to remember what the director wants you to do when you work on your music at home. (You DO work on your music at home, don't you?)
- Use your learning tape all the time. This means listening to it and singing along with it while driving to work, to the store, to church, or to chapter meeting. Use it so often that it needs to be replaced. And when you use it, get in the habit of rewinding it to repeat a problem area in the music over and over. The more you repeat a difficult passage, the easier it will be to do it correctly the next time.
- Pay attention and be quiet at rehearsals. In case you haven't noticed, there is far too much talking every time the director stops waving his arms. Don't talk as soon as you stop singing. LISTEN! Earl Moon used to say that God gave you two ears and one mouth, and He expects you to use them in that proportion. If you stop talking and listen during rehearsal, most of your questions will be answered before you ask them. You don't believe me? Try it!
- Immediately memorize the words and the story they tell before working on the notes. It is important for you to know all the words so that everyone sings them together. When you don't know the words to a song, you are always slightly behind everyone else who does know them. This causes the synchronization errors that the judges always talk about. If you don't know the story the words are trying to tell, how can you expect to put on the correct expressions that will convey that story to the audience? You MUST know the words AND the story they tell.
- Don't leave early. When you leave early, you fall behind those who stay. Then, you have to catch up the next week and that slows everyone else down. If you must leave early, plan on working that much harder during the week so you don't become a burden to those who stayed to learn more.
- Call on your section leaders with any questions you have about the music. They are called "Section Leaders" for a reason. They are there to help you. If you don't call them when you need help, you may fall behind and slow down the progress of the chorus. I don't know of any Section Leader who will not try to help you if you will just call.
- Bring a tape recorder to the chapter meeting. Your personal tape recorder is the best way to get a learning tape of new music long before the official learning tape is ready. Bring the tape recorder, tape the new music or the parts you are having trouble with, then use it every day to learn your music.
It is apparent that too many chorus members are not working on their music at home. This causes the director to have to spend precious time teaching you the words and notes. That is a tremendous waste of my time and yours. Think about it-- you are paying me money to do something you should be doing at home! I should be teaching you how to sing better, interpret the songs we sing, and perform them to the best of your ability. If you learn the music at home between chorus rehearsals, we can move along and get to the really fun stuff much sooner. It is not nearly as much fun to learn words and notes as it is to work on interpretation and practice performing a song. So let's get past the hard part as fast as we can and get on to the fun stuff. It's up to you to do the first part. Then I will be more than happy to do the rest.
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