Minute Clinic – Why Do We Play Chorales?

I am sure that most of you were taught that playing chorales/lyrical music is an essential part of the warm-up process for the band. Well, why? I ask this question because too often I hear lots of chorales being played in bandrooms across the country, but I don’t know what the purpose is for them being played. I base this assumption on what I hear and I don’t think the students know the purpose for them either. When was the last time you actually explained to your students why you play these little pieces every single day? I hope it isn’t to torture them, but that is probably what some students think!

Playing slow and lyrical music is essential to building musicianship with your band, but just like any warm-ups you do, if it is done haphazardly and without any goal in mind, it is a useless waste of time. While your band is playing a chorale are they focused on tone quality, balance, blend, intonation, phrasing and basic musicianship? How can you present the chorale you are going to play today and make sure these things are stressed? Can you tell the students why you are playing them and will that help their understanding? Can you raise your level of expectations during this part of the warm-up today and help your band improve their musicianship? It is just like anything else, what we think is important and emphasize is what the students will focus on too. They will become a mirror of your musicianship if and only if you expect it. Most important of all, set your standard of expectation high and don’t give up – ever!