A Choristers’ Guide To Keeping Their Conductor In Line
The basic training of every singer should, of coarse, include myriad types of practical and theoretical emphases. One important area which is often neglected, however, is the art of one-upmanship. The following rules are intended as guides to the development of habits which will promote the proper type of relationship between the singer and their conductor.
- Never be satisfied with the starting pitch. Make known your preferences for pitches from the piano.
- Complain about the temperature of the rehearsal room, the lighting, crowded space, and of a draft. It’s best to do this when the conductor is under pressure.
- Bury your head in your music just before cues.
- Loudly clear your throat during pauses (tenors are trained to do this from birth). Pauses and instrumental interludes are a good chance to blow your nose.
- Long after a passage has gone by, ask the conductor if your C# was in tune. This is especially effective if you had no C# or were not singing at the time.
- Wait until well into the rehearsal before letting the conductor know you forgot your music.
- When possible, sing your part either an octave higher or lower than what is written. This is excellent ear-training for the conductor. If she/he hears the pitch, deny it and claim it must have been the combination tone.
- Exclaim : “I can’t find the beat” while looking in your music.
- If you are singing in a different language, ask the conductor as many questions as possible about the meaning of individual words. If this fails, ask about the pronunciation of the most difficult words. Occasionally say the word in question twice and ask his/her preference, making to say the word exactly the same way both times. If he/she remarks on their similarity, give him/her a look of disdain and mumble under your breath about the “subtleties of inflection”.
- If your articulation of a phrase differs from that of others singing the same phrase, stick to your guns! Do not ask the conductor which is correct until backstage just before the concert.
- Find an excuse to leave rehearsal 15 minutes early so that the others will become restless and start to fidget.
In other words, make every effort to take the attention away from the podium and put it on you where it belongs!