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Should singers Stand or sit during rehearsal?

A compilation of my recent request for standing vs. sitting during
rehearsals (most responses from HS and college/university directors).
Christopher Borges
cborges(a)bak.rr.com---
I always have my singers stand when they are singing.
Our rehearsals are 50 minutes for 3 rehearsal and one 75 minute
rehearsal.---
We also have 50-minute classes, and we do both. But I guess it
depends on where you are in the rehearsal process. If we are working
parts, everyone is sitting for most of it. If the music is learned
and we are polishing it then we are standing for most of it. We move
around a lot. We might be singing in a circle, in sections, in SATB
formation, whatever, so they don't really even think about it much.---
I was most interested in your e-mail regarding standing at
rehearsals. I have two 1 1/2 hour rehearsals with one of my groups
and the other meets once per week for 2 1/2 hours. I have often
thought about having them stand for the rehearsal time, so I will be
most interested in hearing what others have done.---
We get substantially more work done with standing rehearsals. I've
tried returning to seated rehearsals, but the attention level,
posture and singing quality aren't as good.---
I find it much more effective to mix it up. Let them sit for parts
digging. Then stand them up to simulate performance.---
Well, the obvious answer is to do both! Have them sit when you're doing
sectionals, or rehearsing small sections at a time, but then when it's
time to have everyone together singing a section (or an entire work) at
their best, have them stand. The closer it gets to concert time, the
more standing they do.

One can sing just as easily sitting down as standing up, and yes, one
sings better standing up, but one also gets tired and then doesn't sing
as well.---
My rehearsals are 80 minutes. Whenever the kids sing, they stand.
They complain at first, but after a few weeks they don't even think
about it. But, we shift around a lot. Sometimes on the risers,
sometimes in one large circle, sometimes in section circles,
sometimes we walk or dance the music around the whole room. When the
weather gets nice (which isn't until late in the school year around
here) we practice outdoors (standing, of course). If a kid is sick
or dizzy, of course I let him/her sit. In the winter there may be 2
kids sitting out of a 50 voice choir. I've been rehearsing this way
for 34 years and it doesn't seem to hurt the kids too badly!---
I directed a high school choir last year and we wer ein the class for
50 minutes as well. Yes, we stood the entire period. I think the
sound is better and i did let them sit in between songs or if i was
working with a section, or making announcements and other such
things. It is only a 50 minute rehearsal, these kids play football
and stay outside and run all evening lo0ng, they run around for 50
minutes in gym dont they? does the band that has summer band camp
outside on the field for an entire week not get tired? they all do
it, so why cant a choir stand for atleast 40-45 minutes while you
work with them. I dont see it as a problem. I did it in high
school, college and I expect my students to d it now. Standing
cannot make you tired. It is not possible, they will sing either way
and if they cant use the proper posture in a chair then they should
stand and if they dont want to do that then they dont give a fig
about the choir!, just my opinion! I sound evil huh? lol---
I have had choir stand for rehearsals for the last forty years I
have taught and they don't seem any worse physically for it and it
sure is better for breathing purposes and posture.---
Are you standing for the entire time also. Do you also participate in
the same athletic exercises that the students participate in and do
you walk home from school??---
Why were the chairs removed in the first place? Space issues?
(Where do they
sit during announcements and theory work, if the chairs have been
removed?)

My first reaction is "that's barbaric!" Then again, if I were in
school sittingIf students become that fatigued after only 50 minutes
of standing, they need some stiff workouts! If you have them stand
and your students respond well to it, keep at it. They will be
better prepared for the rigors of concerts. I used to have students
stand the entire time because of space issues---not everyone could
sit in the room and risers solved my space problem (don't ask about
acoustics, etc.). Once I had the space, I began using chairs and
some of my discipline issues went away. I do have students sit
during rehearsal, but we do stand some everyday and, once we've
mastered notes and are polishing, the students frequently request
that they stand, sometimes the entire period at their request.

most of the day, standing for 50 minutes might not be so bad --
especially if I
were only 16 again.---
I figure that since the choir will perform standing, it would make
sense to practice that as well. If you are worried about fatigue,
why not increase their endurance by having them stand during
rehearsal? That way when the concert rolls around it's no big deal.
Reasons I might not do this are if I were working with a church or
community choir with older members who may not be able to stand
through an entire rehearsal. I would also make accommodations for
any differently-abled students of course.---
If students become that fatigued after only 50 minutes of standing,
they need some stiff workouts! If you have them stand and your
students respond well to it, keep at it. They will be better
prepared for the rigors of concerts. I used to have students stand
the entire time because of space issues---not everyone could sit in
the room and risers solved my space problem (don't ask about
acoustics, etc.). Once I had the space, I began using chairs and
some of my discipline issues went away. I do have students sit
during rehearsal, but we do stand some everyday and, once we've
mastered notes and are polishing, the students frequently request
that they stand, sometimes the entire period at their request.

Tire them out, then make them run laps around the building. They'll
be better for it in the long run and they'll probably become better
singers because they're in better shape!---
My philosophy is to mix it up as much as possible - standing - sitting -
crawling - walking........---
6 years ago I took the chairs out of my rehearsal room, and haven't
looked back since. For me, its the only way to rehearse and I have a
hard time conducting a group that sits throughout rehearsal. I do
know that my students have gotten used to it as well, and get
restless at an all-state etc. festival when they are sitting for most
of the time.

This past fall, I hosted Jerry Blackstone for roughly 5 hours of
rehearsal with them(broken up throughout the day) and none of the 100
kids seemed fatigued.

As far as people being concerned about tiring them out for a 50
minute rehearsal, I'd ask those same people if they ever sat during
an hour long voice lesson. I think the beneifts of its effects on
posture and breathing out weigh any negatives associated with standing.---
We stand for warmups and sit while fleshing out a piece and when
beginning work on it. Once they have the music out of thewir hands we
stand and work on the technical musical elements within it. (We
memorize everything except larger wrks, which I really don't do that
often, due to the diverse talent in my large chorus.---
I think standing too long can be very tiring, and can actually bring
some unhealthy/undesirable support habits into play. Sitting in a
very forward, poised, and "ready-to-stand" posture can work just as
well -- the "puppet-strings" approach to keeping the body in good
alignment -- that can move into a standing position quickly (even
while singing) and back to sitting.

If lengthy periods of standing are necessary or desirable for some
reason, I have used it as an opportunity to sing while practicing
processing, or some other movement (eurthymics) or body-sense
activities. That will at least break the locked knees and restore
blood flow!---
I have found that alternating sitting and standing is ideal-whether
it be
with church choir, junior/senior high school choir, university/college,
community, or professional choirs. Variety is less tiring, plus I
believe it

keeps the singers more alert.---
I have my singers stand very little in rehearsal and
even in dress rehearsals I allow them to sit on risers
as much as possible, when we've finished the main part
of our sound check. I find that singers get fatigued
very quickly and then get distracted by their back
pain. On the other hand, I insist on excellent singing
posture when seated, and my singers are pretty good
about maintaining an edge-of-the seat,
heels-flat-on-the floor posture.
I sang for nine years full-time in a professional
choir, and I well remember how back-breaking and
distracting a long stand can be. This happened only
when we had guest conductors...our own conductor did
not have us stand unnecessarily. On the conducting
side of the podium, I can stand for hours and not get
tired.---
My room is quite small and I have
students stand for singing. All my voice lessons were taken with me
standing
for the entire time, so I feel it's perfectly acceptable for my
students to do
it also.---
I tend to agree, that too much standing is tiring, but
I also know very successful directors who do as you
do.

Can you get frank and honest answers from some of your
best students, and also from your worst students, just
to see what they will say? For example: "I have
always thought that standing for singing is the best
way to go because a. b. c. But, do you think our
rehearsal loses any effectiveness due to getting tired
while standing?" This would tell a lot. Prob. best
to personally interview or survey individuals. I
would NOT open it to group discussion - chaos could
ensue.

This will prob. vary person to person. I personally
have a hard time standing for long periods, but some
seem not to have any trouble.---
I like standing. I think the issue is are they holding folders and
how heavy are the folders. That can pull the head and neck out of
alignment. 50 minutes is not that long with periodic "sit downs" for
sections not working or "talking" etc....---
I'm a first-year teacher, but I still have my H.S. and college choral
experiences fresh in my memory. I like to have my choir stand for
warm-ups,
sit for sightreading, sectional work I have the section that is not
singing
sit down, and then when we go through the piece at the end of
rehearsal we
stand. It's really best to mix it up. Of course, sitting requires
posture-supporting chairs (we have no budget at my school and we use
cheapy
folding chairs) so I seldom let my kids sit. For my high school group
(we
have 10 girls) I have them "gather" at the piano. They do stand for the
entire rehearsal, but they have someting to rest their elbows on. The
reasons for doing this are that my accompanist is never in rehearsals
until
the last week or so of class so I end up playing parts, etc. My piano
is a
6-foot Kawai (much too big for my small classroom), and to move it
around
for my various classes (I teach K-12, general, choir, and band) is
too much
for my back, so the girls just gather round. It seems to work, but I
would
much prefer that I could be in front of them and they be able to sit for
portions.---
on July 11, 2005 10:00pm
I enjoyed reading the material about choral rehearsal, and seeing the comments on sitting vs. standing. I too have been teaching for 30+ years, and have found that if a chair is used posture gets progressively sloppy. The same thing was happening in the piano lab classes at the high school level. Two years ago the chairs in the piano lab were replaced with small benches made for electric keyboards. Students are now alert, and know that when the written classwork is complete, it is time to work on the assignment in the method book.
In chorus/choir classes, the ideal would be to have long benches as are found at sporting events. This allows the student to sit up straight, keep feet flat on the floor, hold music chest high if necessary, and move into a standing position. My choral classroom has chairs at the present, and as the marking period progresses, the backs of some students also progress to leaning back in the chair. When students are doing a written drill, taking a test, etc., sitting is for their comfort. When it is time to make music with the voice, proper posture must be in place. I tell my students from the beginning of the semester, that I am not there to run a "musical daycare". If any of them are there to socialize with friends, fill a class period in the schedule, take time out from the regular school day,etc., I remind them that chorus students "work" to create a quality product. Good rehearsal posture is a part of achieving that quality.
on July 20, 2005 10:00pm
I once saw the Elmer Iseler Singers (Toronto 1986) perform an entire concert seated. Mr Iseler's reasoning was that the internal mechanism for vocal production are located above the waist, and this way the singers don't tire as quickly.
on May 12, 2007 10:00pm
PS: When I say I am very fit, I mean I do pilates, yoga, run half marathons and shorter races regularly, swim, etcetera. I can only imagine how much harder standing in one place would be (many of you say you move around a lot, but this has never been my own experience) for someone less fit and/or with health problems.
on May 12, 2007 10:00pm
As a professional opera singer who is a church soloist and section leader and in professional choruses with local symphonies, I think it's important to point out that people need to be comfortable to sing (in rehearsals) in order to sing well, and thus to keep people singing with a positive attitude. Happy people sing better.

The comments I have read here seem to encourage the thought that basically healthy people should be able to stand for an entire rehearsal...but I need to point out that standing in one place, as all of my singing endeavors have me do (except for opera), is a very different issue. I am a very fit young woman, and yet standing in the same place for any length of time can cause faintness, bad circulation, pain from even my moderately high heeled shoes (which I can wear in an 9 hour office and feel just fine...because I'm not standing with the pressure points in the same place for any duration), not to mention possible hot stage lights, overheating of a rehearsal space, overcrowding on risers, etc.

I am referring to working rehearsals, not rehearsals where you are running the music and essentially all singers are always needed. I have been in numerous inefficient rehearsals where one section is left standing waiting while another section finishes rehearsing their part. Eventually people just start to sit down because it seems just an oversight on the director's part to have them still standing. In our mostly-voluteer church choir, we are a mixed group, different ages, back problems, etcetera. I think the most important thing is to be respectful to your group...even young strong people can be overtired, overworked, undernourished. It's just a fact of life.

I know this forum is mostly for high schoolers...and I remember being a young woman and not drinking enough water, not eating enough of a balanced diet (I loved sugar, it was its own food group), etc and feeling faint at times as a result. The last thing I wanted was to be singled out ("I need to sit.") No air conditioning in a southern state...wow, that was rough.

Let's just teach people how to sit correctly and reinforce it so it's second nature...and of course have them stand when it's time to sing. We all know of numerous ways to keep people focused and engaged, such as singing along with other voice parts. Good singing can certainly be achieved while sitting, but proper body alignment is more difficult to teach correctly.

I would highly recommend getting an Alexander Technique teacher in for a sitting-and-singing workshop. You can tell people to "sit up" all you want--but it's useless if they're not using the right muscles. I find the best teachers are the ones who have the smarts to leave specific training such as this, to the experts.