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When to Say "Enough" to a Piece of Music

Hello all,
 
I am a sophomore music education major and am currently working on teaching a piece of music titled "Dixit Maria" to my choral conducting class. There are a lot of things that I still want to correct in the next two weeks, but I probably won't be able to accomplish all that I want to in the allotted time.
 
What do you consider to be the most essential elements to perfect first and foremost when teacing a piece of music to a choir? When do you have to say "enough is enough" and move on to more music?
 
Thank you,
 
Robbie
on April 23, 2014 5:10am
This is a great question. My response isn't going to be specific to the particular piece you mention but rather to the rehearsal process in general. Recently after working a choir at school to exhaustion one of the older boys remarked 'we probably just need to sleep on this one.' He was absolutely right.  Musical considerations aside, try moving onto some new music and come back to the Dixit in a few days. Maybe even then, only pick 2 or 3 achievable things to do- use a warmup to  highlight a particular section/ work on one entry....  While their musical brains are focusing on the new music they will find space to revisit what you've already done. Then hit them with a run through of the Dixit and you might be very pleasantly surprised. 
 
Best of luck!
Applauded by an audience of 3
on April 24, 2014 4:35am
Robbie, this is a classroom exercise, a learning situation, not headed to a concert.  Right?  The singers are your peers and many are likely your friends.  Why not ask them where the difficulties lie?  Where are the hard spots, what are they just not getting?  Every good and great director that I've ever sung for has welcomed feedback.  Sometimes it's some quirk in the music that just needs a different approach.  Sometimes it's you not being clear, or omitting something.  Ouch, that hurts, take it with humility and learn.  That's what you're in school for, sometimes our peers are more perceptive than the professors (they can be more blunt too, expect that).  
on April 24, 2014 9:00am
Robbie, great question.  Be cognizant of what I would call “learning-momentum.”  This momentum is created when choir members (singers) seamlessly flow from one part of a song to another without any problems at all.  Conversely, this momentum begins to slow down or stop when someone begins to struggle with the most simplest areas of a song.  From there, it spreads throughout the choir.  Basically, the rule here is: don’t allow yourself (or your choir) to get stuck.  Begin teaching to the strongest or most experienced people in your choir.  If you start to get stuck, it is definitely time move on.  Don’t try and figure it out in front of your group - unless its absolutely necessary.  Finally, be sure to understand the difference between an easy mistake made, versus a situation where you’ve lost the learning momentum.
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