Back to choir

It’s that time of year again. Our pencils are sharpened, our uniforms have come out hibernation and we’re excitedly writing our timetables in our diaries. Yes, it’s time to go back to choir. And if the summer sun has wiped your memory of all choral vocab, here’s a quick guide to  your choral director’s favourite phrases, to get you ready for that first rehearsal.

Have you got a pencil? = we’re about to spend 30 tedious minutes putting in breath marks

Heads out of copies please = not a single one of you is paying me any attention

Good attempt, the accompanist is just going to play your line for you = every single note you just sang was incorrect

Eyes bright = you’re flat

Keep those eyebrows high = you’re still flat

Sit up straight and uncross your legs = you’re really flat and I’m running out of ideas of what to do about it

Let’s try this standing up = this is my last attempt at getting you to sing in tune after which I may retire

There are a couple of tricky page turns = the publishers employed a baboon to do the page setting and you will be frequently required to turn 8 bars early to avoid ruining the quiet bits

This is a schwa = absolutely no one has any idea what this means, just change the vowel sound and nod knowledgeably

Put in a glottal = don’t run those words together as otherwise you’ll be singing about something completely different

Use a ‘wet’ (English) ‘t’ = spit on the person in front of you

Use a dry (Italian) ‘t’ = ‘d’

More text needed = no one has any idea what language you’re trying to sing in

Don’t worry about what the soloists are doing = despite being paid for this, there’s a 50:50 chance the soloists will be on the wrong beat/note/piece so just carry on regardless

Make sure you breathe far enough in advance = your entry was late again

Watch the blend = someone is sticking out like a sore thumb

Watch the balance = there are only 5 tenors and you’re drowning them out

You’ll be able to find your note, it’s just the 5th of the A flat minor chord in bar 129 = that entry is impossible to find, I’m praying for you

Make sure you sing up and over the top of that note = you sound more like banshees than sopranos

Could you all make sure you stand up together = nursery children do a better job of standing up than you do

Toi toi = superstitious (posh) way of saying good luck

The CBSO Chorus continues rehearsals for Haydn’s Creation with the BBC Philharmonic on Saturday 24 September 2016.

 

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