What Makes a Rehearsal Work Well?
Thursday, 01 October 2009 23:06    Print E-mail

I wish I had all the answers, but here are a few things that have worked for me.

(1)  Set up ground rules for every rehearsal and be consistent.

(a) Starting: how many silent beats before playing.
(b) Stopping:  what behavior do I expect such as listening and not playing.
(c)  Questions:  how to ask, how it will be recognized and when answered.
(d)  Breaks:  when, how, where, etc.

(2) Be prepared-know your score, the individual parts and the problem areas before you start working with the kids.

(3)  Be organized---how are you going to spend your time on each piece, each skill that must be learned. Let them know your time schedule for each piece.  This will also help in discipline. If someone doesn't like a particular piece, but know we will only work on it for ten minutes, they may be much more willing to stay on task, then if they have no idea how long they must "suffer" through that piece.

(4)  Set goals-not just for yourself, but for the kids.  Let them know what you are aiming for, demonstrate it if it fits into your "game plan".

(5)  Involve the players---that is the "magic". There are so many "things" that will help: know something about them--- birthdays, special recognition, favorite animals, musicians, athletes, what's happening in their world.

(6)  Be honest---If you don't know something, don't "fake an answer". Kids are "pros". They see us (teachers, conductors, musicians, adults) all day long.  They know the real thing when they see it!

(7)  Use humor---Don't take yourself too seriously, and be able to use humor to help someone out of a difficult situation.

(8)  Be flexible --Be able to change your work plan depending on situations that may arise:  fire drills, personal things, or even more importantly as a musician- the music just doesn't work the way you thought it would, or a specific skill is too difficult.  Can it be simplified? Omitted? Given to another instrument/section?  If all things fail, don't be afraid to admit it and let the kids have some decision making as to what to do---keep working on it, drop it, leave it for another day, etc.

(9)  Use rewards---How do you recognize desirable skills, behavior, performance, etc?

(10)  Conducting Skills---There is a time and a place to beat time. Once established, determine who needs help rhythmically, dynamically, expressively, with entrances, etc.

(a) Give your attention and conducting to the section that needs help and leave the rest alone.
(b) Get off the podium and conduct standing in different places, move around, go and listen from where the audience will be.
(c)  Do "silent" conducting-you conduct and they follow their parts and listen to you describe what should be happening without playing as you conduct.
(d)  Have one of the kids conduct, go and listen or play their part.

---When rehearsal is finished let them know

(a) what they have accomplished
(b) what needs to be worked on at home or at lessons ©  what we will be doing at our nextrehearsal-accountability!
(d) leave them wanting to come back!!!!!!


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