HomeBlogsdavecharliebrown's blog21 Tips for Ruining Your Rehearsal

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You’re a new director of an a cappella group.  You have big plans for failure.  You don’t want your rehearsals to get in the way of your planned downfall.  Follow the suggestions below to waste time, harbor resentment, and guarantee total dysfunction.

  1. Don’t warm up.  Warm-ups are for beginners.  If you must warm up, don’t plan them out—just let them ramble on and on, up and down the scale for hours.
  2. Avoid planning your rehearsal.  You may be tempted to have some outline prepared, but you really should show up and just go with the flow.  Goals only serve to raise expectations to an impossible level; you’re better off without them.
  3. In that vein, you should also ignore any inclination to prepare a long-term schedule for your rehearsals.  When the week of the big gig arrives, suddenly demand many outside rehearsals out of nowhere with no prior explanation.
  4. If you do decide to create an itinerary for your rehearsal, be sure not to inform your group about it.  You want to keep them on their toes.
  5. Talk a LOT about business.  As frequently as possible.  Avoid singing at all costs.  Suppress any suggestion that some business can be done over email ahead of time.
  6. If you do end up singing at any point during the rehearsal, be sure to sing your songs from beginning to end.  Every time you begin, say, “Okay, let’s just go from the top.”  Then once you finish, allow dozens of comments about what went wrong, and then start from the top again.  Repeat.
  7. Never disturb the group while they’re singing.  Don’t give any instructions, and never step away to really listen to the group as a whole.  You don’t want to ruin the mojo.
  8. In the rare case where you don’t begin at the top of the song, give unclear signals about where you’re starting.  When you want the group to start singing a passage, be extremely vague about where you’d like them to begin.  When they can’t follow you, express extreme annoyance and declare it’s their fault.
  9. Don’t take any breaks.  If anyone tries to leave to get a drink or go to the bathroom, give a speech to everyone else in their absence about the value of rehearsal time.  Stare angrily without explanation at the person upon their return.
  10. Avoid being evenhanded about rehearsal behavior.  Don’t set expectations at all.  Occasionally make lots of jokes yourself and allow others to do the same, and then out of nowhere act very surprised when people make a single joke, and give them a speech about taking rehearsal seriously.
  11. Teach music one person at a time.  Don’t let anyone rehearse their parts at the same time or in a neighboring rehearsal space.  Make everyone sit and listen, and be surprised when they start talking out of boredom.
  12. When teaching parts, be sure to do a lot of explaining.  Explaining is a great way to learn music.  Also, don’t pamper your singers: avoid singing it together with them, and avoid repetition.  Repetition is a terrible way to learn music.
  13. Take calls during rehearsal.  Or if that seems inappropriate, at least do a lot of texting.
  14. Bring Chinese food to rehearsal.  Or a smelly Mexican dish.  Take bites during rests.  At your next entrance, just continue chewing and humming your part.
  15. Tolerate tardiness.  Say nothing when people arrive late, and avoid addressing the issue entirely.  Let your anger build up for weeks, then suddenly without any warning have a complete breakdown, and give your group a furious speech out of nowhere.  This will be very effective.
  16. Carry resentment throughout all aspects of your management experience.  Pick favorites, and encourage clicks.  Assume most of your group members are talking about you behind your back.  Be very suspicious during rehearsals.
  17. Be a tremendous dictator.  Own everything, and take everything personally.  Teach all the music, choose all the soloists, prepare all the choreography, and choose all the set lists.  This group is your baby; don’t trust anyone.
  18. If a dictatorship isn’t your style, go to the other extreme.  Don’t make any decisions.  Make it a true democracy.  Try to remain popular by turning everything into a group decision.  Have long debates about where to crescendo.
  19. Ignore the audience experience entirely.  Rotate soloists as much as possible, even if people are paired with a song that truly doesn’t fit their voice.  Spend lots of time in rehearsal planning a way to include inside jokes in your concert.
  20. Don't waste time rehearsing any speaking that you’ll do on stage.  After all, the audience comes to hear music, not to have a good experience.  Ignore the fact that 10-15 total minutes of your show will be talking between songs.
  21. Finally, don’t let your group out on time.  If possible, let them out late every single rehearsal.  When they start to grumble, make an angry speech about how they’re not committed, and they don’t appreciate the value of hard work.  This would be a good place to give your out-of-the-blue speech about how upset you’ve been over everyone’s tardiness.

If you follow these suggestions, I guarantee your group will fall apart in no time.  Best of luck on your road to ruin.


what u did there

i see it

Matt Emery CASA Director of Communications Three-time Recipient of RARB "Post of the Year" Title

and man...

i was WAY guilty on #21 as Rhythm & Blue's director! :-/

Matt Emery CASA Director of Communications Three-time Recipient of RARB "Post of the Year" Title

I'm actually happy to report

as the new director of a new group, none of these items were cringe-worthy for me.  Some of them I've picked up as I've gone along (the rehearsal itinerary came late but is in place now), and some are still potential issues, but I'm not wincing in emotional distress.  :)

Thanks for the post Dave.  It's a great checklist.

so true

haha, this is really good.  Every a cappella director should read this.  Thanks Dave.

Yea, this is pretty classic.

Yea, this is pretty classic. It's one thing when you tell someone *this is how you should do this* , it's another thing to tell them *things will suck if you do this*. Also happens to be pretty funny too :)


The great thing is...

Every music director and members of a cappella groups everywhere knows exactly what you're talking about.

-Aja Jones-McCloud
President, Contemporary A Cappella at UCF


Except for points 5 and 17 that's ecxtaly the list of things that we (Cluster) do during our rehearsals. I guess that's a good thing?

::takes notes::

I hope a cappella's arch nemesis doesn't find this post. o.O ;;

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