A Different Approach

 

On Saturday, Verdigris musicians gathered for a full day of rehearsal. Last year, we followed the rehearsal schedule model used by many other choirs in Dallas - weekly rehearsals for five or six weeks leading up to the concert. This year, Sam wanted to try a different approach. We have condensed our rehearsal process to a short, intense two weeks before concert.

Here are some reasons we are feeling excited about this model so far:

We are able to fully engage with the music from Day 1. With a shorter rehearsal period, our time together is faster-paced, and we more quickly move to the conceptual aspects of each program. Verdigris programs involve more engagement from singers than just “stand and sing pretty” as we move around the space and work to create seamless transitions. This rehearsal schedule allows us to get to that stage of rehearsal more quickly.

Many of us sing in more than one Dallas ensemble, and it allows us more freedom in scheduling. By having more Monday nights free throughout the year, we avoid scheduling conflicts with other ensembles, and free up our own schedules for other gigs or, GASP, an evening free. Many of us have weekly Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights rehearsals for our church jobs and other ensembles. Rather than compounding five or six weeks of heavy rehearsal and exhaustion, we’ve condensed it into a short, sweet, intense two weeks. The Verdigris musicians that I have talked to about this model love the condensed rehearsal structure.

By replacing three of the weekly rehearsals with one full-day rehearsal on the Saturday preceding the concert, we have given ourselves the chance to have a choir retreat during every concert cycle. Our full-day Saturday rehearsals function as full-immersion rehearsal time, and double as a choir retreat. We have a strong emphasis on community in Verdigris. We want our music-making to be more than just talented singers showing up for a paycheck. There’s nothing wrong with that mentality, but we have experienced the depth of joy in music-making that comes with community. And our audience sees it. The joyful, honest way that we are able to communicate and interact in concert is visible to our audiences; we received so many comments last season about how our on-stage interaction drew in and captured our audience.

On Saturday, we moved together, ate together, and made music together. Katrina, our resident yogi, led us in a standing yoga body warm-up. This intentional physical warm-up helped set a tone of centered focus for the day. Donors visited our rehearsal in late morning, and then joined us for lunch. Singers and donors broke bread together with the generosity of Francoise Webb, one of our incredible volunteers who brought a delicious spread of homemade food. Throughout the day, board member Frank Darko and his second, Leah Jones, captured footage of rehearsal, took musician headshots, and recorded singer interviews.

When Sam and I returned home exhausted after our full-day rehearsal, we found ourselves reveling in the feeling of calm that comes after a day of getting stuff done. The music sounds beautiful, the people are seriously awesome, and the amount of people willing and able to back this project is constantly surprising and staggering.

Exciting, and semi-related note: We will be selling prints of the Bernstein watercolor concert poster at our concerts on Oct. 6 and Oct. 21. Stephen Zhang’s art is one of the defining features of this season, and you can now take it home with you. Just another reason to not miss this concert.

 
Erinn Sensenig