It was suggested to me that those in the choir who haven’t had a formal musical training might find the following tips helpful. Many of you will be doing these things already.
1. Get hold of a good recording and try to follow it in your score. Eventually, you might try to sing along with your part.
2. Make use of the Teacher CDs, if they are available, or go to www.cyberbass.com (or any other website like it) where you can hear and follow your part in the foreground.
3. Mark your stave with a suitable sign, so that you can find it easily when you turn a page – it won’t always be in the same place!
4. Study the words carefully, and then try to recite them in the correct musical rhythms.
5. If there are passages with complicated rhythm, it’s a good idea to write the beats of the bar above your notes, so that you can see exactly when to change to the next note.
6. If you’re not due to start singing at the beginning of a bar, make sure you know how to “count yourself in”.
7. Be aware of what is going on in the other voice parts, and in the accompaniment. It matters, and it might help you!
8. Look out for (and mark) any notes in the other voice parts, or in the accompaniment, which help you to find your own note. Be aware of any notes which might put you off!
9. Try to attend rehearsals regularly. If you have to miss a rehearsal, find out from a colleague what you missed.
10. Make careful notes (in pencil) in your score during rehearsals – we all have busy lives, and we can’t be expected to remember all the conductor’s instructions if we haven’t written them down!
11. Try to look through your music once or twice between rehearsals; look particularly at any passages which you find troublesome.
12. Even if you don’t really like the music, try to “get inside it” and understand what the composer was thinking and feeling, so that you can communicate it to your audience. You’ll enjoy the performance much more if you feel empathy with the music you are singing.