Get to know the score. Are there solo parts, does a particular voice part stop at any point, does the music divide at any point? Go through and make sure you know exactly which line you should be on, and mark where it isn’t clear.
Clearly mark repeats and where they go back to a previous page; use a tab to easily find it.
Have a look at where your note comes from for a new entry and join it to yours.
Put tabs in for different sections of the piece to make them easier to find.
Use paper clips to close off any sections that are going to be missed out.
Always bring a pencil. It is important to mark your score during a rehearsal, and especially to record all the points provided by the Music Director.
Mark all breaths.
For staggered breathing take a whole beat out to take a proper breath. Mark where you are going to take it so you do it in the same place each time. This will help with learning.
Make a note of any section that needs a little more work. Don’t rely on your memory.
Focus on the sections that you find difficult. Don’t try and get through it all every time, focus on small chunks and learn them well.
Use rehearsal tracks (see below), a piano, or even your old descant recorder for the sections that need extra work.
Read through the text in rhythm, especially for fast sections and when singing in a foreign language. This is just as important as learning the notes.
It is very important to listen to a recording of the work; it will give you a good idea of the piece as a whole. You can use your score to help you sing along, or just listen to it as frequently as you can. You will find recordings of most classical works on YouTube or try the music streaming service Spotify.
Rehearsal tracks are designed to help you learn your voice part by listening to it in isolation and/or with the other voice parts in the background. Some are based on recorded singers and therefore include the words, while others feature the voice parts played on an instrument, so of course there are no words.
You can purchase rehearsal tracks from Choraline, at choraline.com. These are great if you prefer to hear a recording of your voice part but they aren’t free. It costs £8.99 for a download, or £12.99 for a CD. The Chorus has a discount that you can take advantage of once you become a member.
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“How did you join the Phil?” Ann Holloway (first soprano)
“To everyone who’s ever thought that they’d love to sing with a large classical chorus but felt that their sight reading skills would let them down, take heart, there is hope.
“The only musical training I had was in the first year of secondary school when we learnt the value of notes and that Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and All Cows Eat Grass etc. I did however continue to sing in the church choir and the school choir and always found it easy to learn tunes by ear.
“I went for some singing lessons 5 years ago, mainly to improve my confidence. I had always sung alto but my singing teacher told me that I was a soprano and took me to heights that I’d only previously dreamed of. I thought that maybe I could join a ‘proper’ choir and sing some classical stuff — if I could pick up the ‘tunes’ I could then follow the musical scores.
“I set my sights on the Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus. Just before Christmas 2007 I turned up to one of their rehearsals and was hooked straight away. I came to rehearsals for about a month and then one day I put my name forward for an audition.
“I can remember waiting in the foyer for my turn and feeling so scared and thinking ‘who am I kidding’? As I was taken through the scales I calmed down a bit and then I had to sing two pieces from The Messiah which I knew already so that was OK. Then I was asked to do two small pieces of sight reading. One was about timing and one about melody. I stumbled my way through these and I knew I hadn’t got them totally correct, but I was told that I was in! I went home in a daze. I was actually a member of the Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus.
“I have been in the Chorus for nearly a year now and my sight reading has improved tremendously. There are always good sight readers around you and that helps you pick up your line, timing and dynamics. I also try to learn the works by listening to recordings at home. Once I have the tune it is so much easier to follow the score. There are also rehearsal CDs available online and these are great because they ‘plonk out’ your own part on a piano so that you can learn it at your own pace and see how it fits in with the other parts. There are so many ways in which you can help yourself and the rewards far outweigh the hard work.
“Since I have been in the Chorus I have sung in two semi-choruses and even had a little solo which makes me feel like a very valued member even with all my shortcomings.
“The ‘buzz’ that you get from singing with a large Chorus with the likes of the Hallé and BBC Philharmonic Orchestras is amazing and there are lots of social activities too.
“Basically, if I can do it anyone can, so don’t wait any longer, come along to one of our rehearsals on Tuesday night and have a go.”
The audition is as relaxed as such an event can be!
The audition is led by our accompanist who will be keen to put you at your ease. You will warm up by singing a few scales, which enables our Music Director to determine the range of your voice. Next you will be asked to sing extracts of music of the Music Director’s choosing from the work we have recently been rehearsing, to check how well the learning process is going. It is therefore useful to have attended several rehearsals before having an audition.
You will also be asked to sing a few bars of music at sight, testing for both rhythm and pitch. You’re not expected to get it completely right, and our Music Director does allow for nervousness. Sometimes if sight-reading is not quite up to the required standard he will try to determine how quickly you can pick things up by ear, as this can compensate a little.
We understand that you may feel nervous about the audition, but remember that we want new members and are not wanting to catch people out or fail them. An audition is the normal way for a Music Director to assess the standard of your singing and to see if our chorus is right for you. We try to make the audition fairly short and as relaxed as possible.
By passing an audition, the choir’s high standards are maintained and you will hopefully enjoy singing with an excellent chorus!
Rehearsing with a very large choir can be exciting and exhilarating – but can be a bit daunting too, especially if you’re new to the experience! Here are some points to bear in mind:
You may be singing for the first time a piece that the choir are already familiar with. To some this will not be an issue but to many this can be a daunting experience which should not deter you — it is worth persevering! Within a couple of weeks you’ll find yourself singing the piece around the house (often without realising!).Our music can be challenging and even our existing members find a new piece difficult at first.
You need to be familiar with music well enough to follow your voice part and to recognise the length of notes and the rhythm. You also need to be familiar with basic instructions and dynamics, e.g., cres, mf, etc., although less familiar terms are explained.
A reasonably strong level of commitment is required by members. In order to perform in a concert, we expect members to attend all rehearsals. Of course anyone can fall ill or experience pressing family or work issues etc, but we tend not to allow members to sing in concerts if their attendance has fallen to unacceptable levels – around 75% usually. Members must also attend the Conductor’s piano rehearsal and the orchestral rehearsal on the day of the concert. You will need to attend from 7pm to 9pm each Tuesday, and sometimes stay until 9.15pm.
On concert days members are usually required at the City Hall from 2pm for a two hour orchestral rehearsal, then again from 6.30pm until the end of the concert. When singing with the Halle, there is often a compulsory rehearsal in Manchester on an evening of the week before the concert.
Visiting other venues requires longer hours and rehearsals are occasionally conducted at these venues. Members are advised several months in advance of all rehearsals and concerts so that arrangements can be made. Travel to venues outside of Sheffield is provided, free of charge.
We have cancelled all live rehearsals for the time being, due to the coronavirus pandemic. We are, however, rehearsing via Zoom every week – a new and interesting experience which is not quite the same as singing together, but we are enjoying the chance to be together virtually and to learn great music.
Access by car – There are two vehicle access points, from Newbould Lane and from Glossop Road.
There is car parking on site; however as the Language College part of KES is also open on Tuesday evening, there will be competition for places. As the classes start after us, early arrivals should be OK; places for non-disabled drivers cannot be guaranteed of course. There is substantial street parking on Clarkhouse Rd. and other streets nearby after 6.30. Disabled access using ramps and a lift is from the town end of the site off Glossop Rd.
Access on foot / by Bus – There are numerous bus services stopping at the bus stops on the roads surrounding the school (Glossop Road, Newbould Lane and Clarkhouse Rd) and a lot of services. For details of bus routes, please go to: www.travelsouthyorkshire.com. In addition to the access points from Newbould Lane and from Glossop Road, there is pedestrian access from the city end of Clarkehouse Rd.
Emergency evacuation – On hearing the fire alarm, vacate the building via the nearest exit – this is likely to be via the front door and down the steps. Do not use the lists. Assemble on the tennis courts in front of the main building. If you discover a fire, press the nearest alarm, which causes the emergency services to attend immediately.
Experience classical music from the inside! Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus offers a great opportunity to experience exciting music ‘from the inside’ alongside both professional musicians and a large number of other enthusiastic singers.
The Chorus frequently offers free workshops:
for all singers interested in trying out singing with the Chorus.
at our regular rehearsal venue: King Edward VII Upper School, Glossop Road, Sheffield S10 2PW.
led by an experienced tutor who will build confidence in preparing for audition including singing with others and dealing with rhythm and pitch.
from 6:20 until 6.55pm, after which participants will join the main rehearsal with the support of an experienced singer.
To check when our next workshops will be taking place and to book:
call Sally Turnbull, New Members Officer, on 01433 630970 or 07771 578233
email Sally at .
Interested or know someone who might be? Please get in touch!
Access by car – There are two vehicle access points from Newbould Lane and from Glossop Road. Car park space at the school is limited but on-street parking is available.
Access on foot / by Bus – There are numerous bus services stopping at the bus stops on the roads surrounding the school (Glossop Road, Newbould Lane and Clarkhouse Rd) and a lot of services. For details of bus routes, go to:www.travelsouthyorkshire.com
We always welcome new members, so if you share our passion and want to enjoy singing with some of Britain’s leading orchestras under the baton of internationally acclaimed conductors, find out more about how you can join us now! Check our Current Season to see what amazing music you could be singing with us!
Unfortunately we have had to abandon many of our most recent concerts due to the coronavirus. We had started holding live rehearsals with groups of 35 members across all voice parts, relayed to the rest of the Chorus via Zoom. Sadly, we had to abandon these when the second lock-down took effect. We hope to resume our part-live part-Zoom rehearsals again as soon as restrictions are lifted.
However, we still welcome new members, so if you are interested in joining us, either now or when things get back to normal, please feel free to contact our New Members Officer as listed below.