Behind the Scenes of a 5-hour Rehearsal
Click-clack. The door to the Teays Valley High School choir room opens with a start, and in comes Drew in with 2 stools, 1 book bag, 1 parcel of snacks, and bottle of liquid to last the next 5 hours.
Yawn. Someone forgot coffee. Oops.
Waiting already is Lad and Eric, who set up the sound board, speakers, mics and stands for an on-mic rehearsal. CK and Jenny roll in next, in their flyest active wear and casual hair-down looks. Alec is in the corner working on a couple sounds for today’s rehearsal, and Dale brings up the rear with a smile and a “sup, crew?”
On deck for today is a 5-hour rehearsal (let’s be real, it may go over) and we are preparing our whole songbook for a full run-through with transition material to boot (also known as “schtick”).
Eric gathers us around a keyboard, and we spend about 20 minutes doing a variety of warm-ups. Aa-ee-aa-ee-aa-ee-oo. Oooooooooo-ohhhhhhhhhhhh-ahhhhhhhh-eeehhhhhhhhhh-eeeeeeeeee. Woo! Wooooo! Wooooooooooooo! Consider our sinuses cleared, our faces nice and contorted, and our vocal cords running smoothly.
Next we start with some staging, getting all 7 of us set up on mics. We are going to use the wall to wall mirrors to give us a sense of what we look like to our audience, and use it as an impartial (maybe) communicator of our body language, stage presence, and cohesiveness as a group.
“Hey are we doing an arc? No arc?”
“A line? A semi-arc?”
“Yeah let’s do that.”
“…. I could really just go for a piece of bread right now.” (Two of us are on #Whole30 right now)
We spend a little bit of time talking through how we start each song, and refine each intro. Instead of counting off and starting together, Jenny sings a couple notes, and Drew and CK join on the 3rd note. Hey, that worked! And it sounds cool.
“Maybe on this one, Alec can start out with just a percussive intro and we can come in later.”
*percussive sounds go on for a couple measures*
“Yeahhhh that sounds sweet, let’s do it like that.”
Rinse, repeat. We make our way through about all 20 ish of our song intros, and then start reading through our transition material. We have quite a bit of dialog, but the group has a lot of personality that we letting shine through those transitional moments.
Lad and Jenny talk us through the fine points, and we take note of what pitch each song starts on, who introduces it, whether or not we are on mic stands, possible issues with tempo or key changes, and any additional staging / choreography. The whole thing is starting to really seem like a full-bodied show.
We talk through a few more things, and it’s by now we are already 3.5 hours in. Wow. That went by super-fast. Let’s take a break.
As per usual, Drew scarfs down his typical during-rehearsal meal. Jenny, Lad and CK discuss changes to the overall timeline, and everyone takes a breather.
It’s time to do the whole thing from top to bottom! CK pulls out her phone to record each track, and Dale kicks us off with a heartfelt up-tempo jam of “Geronimo”, and we’re off. A strong start.
The pitch pipe sounds, we’re on to our next song.
Mics on stands.
Mics on stands again.
Soloists take their turn stepping forward, stepping back.
We start a couple songs over, trying a couple things differently. Things seem to be clicking well.
6 o’clock comes, and we are nearly there (5 hours into this rehearsal at this point).
And … final bow. Our feet are a little achy, our voices are tired but satisfied, and we have done some serious work today. We break down the stands, put mics away, undock speakers, roll up cables, and take some final notes. It’s going to be a good week.