Rehearsal Preparation Sheets (Part 1)

From the feedback I have obtained from choral music educators in the field, one of the most helpful contributions I have made to the classroom has been that of providing Rehearsal Preparation Sheets (RPS) for many of my pieces.  The good news is that you can prepare your own RPS materials for yourself.

Yes…it is a bit easier for me, because I have built every chord and every section of choral music from the “idea” to the notation…definitely an advantage…yet…sometimes you can crawl into the composer’s head, and create materials with relative ease that will assist you in your own rehearsals.  More good news:  the more you create RPS materials for your choir, the easier the process becomes.

There are some basic steps to follow in creating an RPS.  I am going to share the steps I have followed over the years, with a tiny bit of explanation along the way.  The entire idea regarding my Rehearsal Preparation Sheets came about because I wanted to assist teachers in the classroom.

My friend Gayle Box gave me idea of using RPS materials while I was observing her classroom in my “student teacher observation” time.  Gayle was a supervising teacher, and provided short examples that would teach challenging melodic lines, harmonies, rhythms, and other elements she would be teaching that day (really important).  In short, she was preparing her students for daily success!  That’s exactly what I wanted to do with an RPS…get them to know the music…get them to love the music…every day.  My hope was that students would have a clear understanding of the “nuts and bolts” of the music…and…maybe they would enjoy the process more!!

Here is my process for creating Rehearsal Prep Sheets:

1)  Work from simple to complex – Start with whatever the students know…then take them to what they do not know.  Take them where you want them to be in systematic steps.  That is, if a student understands quarter notes and 8th notes…instead of just throwing out a dotted quarter…you might try having them sing a passage with quarter notes and 8th notes…then…write a “tie” going from one of the quarter notes to an 8th note…then….cleverly replace the 8th note with a “dot,” once the students perform the tie successfully.  Just take a chance, and see if there is someone in the class who might know about the “dot” in music…give those advanced students a chance to shine.  A little more explanation about the “dot” might be necessary, but…they have already experienced the significance of “the dot.”  It has entered “the ear.”  They have heard it.

2)  Repeat unfamiliar concepts – New concept?  Rehearse it…let them perform it at least a few times until it becomes familiar.  Let them see it, and get it “in the ear.”  This will allow them to perform the concept with confidence in the context.  You might need to remind them gently in the larger context, however.

3)  Use RPS content relevant to the repertoire – If you are singing a piece with triplets, then the RPS should include opportunities to sing triplets…moving toward the goal of seeing and singing these triplets as they appear in the actual octavo.  Make everything relevant.  You want them singing the score correctly…so…why teach materials they will not encounter in the octavo?  Make it relevant.

Thanks, and have a great day!