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Be the quartet that coaches love to coach

Get the maximum from your coaches out of every session

We all know that regular coaching can help to lift your quartet closer to your quartet goals, whether that means being a better show ensemble, being a better public representative of your chapter, or being a better competitor. But what can individual quartet members do to get the most out of their coaching sessions? The following are some tips.

Before you are coached

Be prepared. Remember that you rehearse as a group, but you practice on your own. Quartet members who employ a daily practice and music-learning routine individually outside of quartet rehearsal (even 10-15 minutes a day) are better contributors to their quartet in rehearsal and coaching. Come to your rehearsals prepared!

Coaching day preparation

Be ready. Use your trip to your rehearsal/coaching location to hum, bubble, siren, or whatever else will potentially amuse surrounding drivers and help you to be fully warmed up vocally upon your arrival.

During your session

Warm up as a quartet. If you are not sure how to do this, ask your coach to arrive early enough to help guide you through this important step. If you already have a solid, successful quartet warm-up routine, schedule your coach’s arrival to coincide with the conclusion of your warm-up. You’ll be ready to roll and maximize the time spent on your repertoire with your coach.

Be coachable. This means being:
• open-minded to suggestions.
• willing to try things that may be outside your comfort zone.
• respectful in asking clarifying questions.
• receptive to doing things that might not be “how we always do it!”
• cooperative, working together as a quartet. Avoid being the “boss” and listen and give value to the coach’s and each other’s ideas, whether you end up using them or not.

Do your homework. After the coaching session and before your next quartet rehearsal, do your best to implement in your personal practice whatever was agreed upon, even if it means unlearning and relearning a passage or changing an interpretation, dynamic, or some other nuance.

By following these suggestions, you will make the most of both your coaching sessions and subsequent rehearsals with your quartet. After all, isn’t the whole point of coaching to bring you and your quartet to another level?

about the author

Sheryl Berlin is a choral educator, professional singer, director, Deputy Dean of Harmony College-East, Alexandria Harmonizers’ Education Director, and vocal/ensemble coach.

This article was originally published in the March/April 2020 issue of The Harmonizer.