1.Give yourself an extra hour more than you think you’ll need to set up and check the mics and monitors before the participants arrive. We hadn’t planned enough time for set up and sound check and as a result the participants had to sit and wait an hour before the rehearsal began.
2. Rehearse first the songs that include the largest number of participants. That way, those who are participating in only a few songs don’t spend a long time waiting around with nothing to do. For instance, we have a children’s ensemble singing one song with us. We did that song first, then let the children go home. Also, we have a dance troupe joining us for three songs. We did those songs next, then let them go home.
3. Get the monitors right. Nothing seems to bother singers and instrumentalists more than not being able to hear what they need to hear. And different groups need different things. For instance, everyone needed to hear enough of the piano, drums and lead vocals to take their harmonic, rhythmic and vocal cues. However, the choir did not want to hear much from the electric guitars. But the guitars certainly needed to hear themselves, so we put them on in-ear monitors so they could hear themselves but not be in the floor monitor mix. The orchestral instruments wanted to hear each other. So we grouped the winds and strings together on the opposite side from the percussion and trumpets, so the quieter instruments could hear themselves and not be overpowered by the louder. However, we needed to put the strings and winds in a monitor so that the brass could hear them.
4. Place one sound operator on the platform and one at the sound board. The person on the platform can check mics and monitors while the person at the board can raise and lower levels. Sound operators can understand one another better than sound operators can understand musicians. Operators speak more of the same language and can better communicate with one another and get the job done quicker. Once the musicians take the mics, if one of the operators remains on the platform the musicians can tell him/her what changes they need and he/she can tell the operator at the board. This is preferable to having the musicians “holler” up to the person on the board.
5. Take a break in the middle of a longer rehearsal. Especially if much of the group is standing, after an hour or more on risers or in one position on the floor, a break is needed to be able to finish the rehearsal with a clear mind and without a backache. We stopped today after about an hour and were able to start again in only ten minutes. Everyone appreciated a few minutes to relax and talk.
6. Give the participants a written rehearsal order. That way, everyone knows what your plan is for the rehearsal. As stated above, we didn’t rehearse them in the same order as we’ll perform them so that we could let the children and dancers go home earlier. So the songs were in a different order than usual. If I hadn’t done this, they couldn’t have corrected me when I skipped a song! I also gave them a written performance order for the presentation on the same page.
7. Give the participants written times and dates for the presentation and stagger arrival times for the sound checks. On the same page as above, I wrote down what times they should show up for the presentations. For instance, on one date, the band is scheduled to arrive at 4pm to unload and set up their instruments, the vocal team at 4:30pm to test vocal mics and the choir and orchestra at 5pm to do the final sound check. Give yourself extra time for this, but don’t make people wait around too long before a presentation or they’ll be too tired to perform well.
8. Give the participants a written dress code for the presentation. That way, you won’t have to hear them say, “I thought you said….” when they show up in a weird outfit. Keep everyone on the same page through written communication.
9. Provide seating and water for the participants. Fortunately, we were rehearsing in the sanctuary, so the long wait mentioned earlier was spent on padded pews. Also, we have a water fountain just outside the sanctuary door. One of the participants encouraged the others to bring folding chairs to the presentation so they can be seated while waiting in the wings before the performance, and he offered to bring sixty bottles of water to the presentation for all the singers.
10. Keep the room comfortable by controlling the temperature. At one point, the participants complained of the heat in the room and we had to ask the sound operators to lower the thermostat. We should have anticipated that and lowered it when the rehearsal began.
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