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What Song Leaders work on in rehearsal

Hello, Song Leaders.  Here’s a preview of what the Rehearsal Leader will help you with during the pre-service rehearsal.

Singing the songs with clarity and confidence

The Rehearsal Leader will help make sure the melodies, words, and rhythms will be understood by the congregation and that you feel good as you sing.

Teaching the songs with eye contact, gesture and, when appropriate, spoken instruction.

Once you feel good singing a song, the Rehearsal Leader will help you learn to teach it.  The general idea is this:

The Song Leader sings the song as the congregation listens, and then she gestures for the congregation to sing.

The Song Leader always sings with the congregation as they learn. (Very important!)

This is largely accomplished through eye contact and gesture.  You may have already noticed the kinds of gestures that Lydian song leaders use, gestures that say . . .

Listen to what I sing

Now it’s your turn

Continue singing

Now we’re ending

Let’s all drone on this note (a gesture used mainly for the acclamations)

Gestures that divide the congregation into groups (if we are singing a song with multiple layers or a song in round)

Hand movements that indicate the rising and falling of the melody

The gestures are invitations, not commands, so you will be coached on making big motions that are visible to everyone.  The bigger the gesture, the bigger the invitation.  Each Song Leader will arrive at her own set of gestures, so you will be free find gestures that feel comfortable.  The Rehearsal Leader will help make sure your gestures communicate what you intend and make suggestions as needed.

You may find that it’s trickier than it looks, so be patient with yourself as you learn.  Your Rehearsal Leader will help you become more confident.

The Rehearsal Leader may also help you with spoken instructions, which we use when  . . .

the length of the song phrases or peculiarities of the melody are such that spoken instruction helps the congregation learn faster.

the song is in a language other than English (in which case the song leader has the congregation repeat the words in the original language and then provides an English translation).

Many of the recordings of the songs include specific suggestions regarding spoken instructions.  The Rehearsal Leader can help you streamline the teaching.

Other things your Rehearsal Leader will help you with:

Can I teach this song in one piece or in chunks (and, if so, how big might those chunks be)?

Where will I get my starting pitch?  Shruti box?  A pitch pipe?  Humming quietly to find a good starting note?

What is my cue to start singing each piece of music?  A spoken cue from the deacon or presider?  A drone from the shruti box?

–Jacob Slichter

Find more Resources for Song Leaders and Song-leader trainees here!

Posted in: Songs We Sing

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