"That was a bit of a stodgy start!" (Director Pete)
The functions and effects of verbal imagery in choral rehearsals

Mary T Black, Visiting Research Fellow, Music Department, University of Leeds, UK

Issue One | Page 01 | May 2020


The title phrase was encountered during doctoral research into the contexts and efficacy of verbal imagery in choral rehearsals. The investigation was completed over five years and adopted a multi-method approach, using videoed observations, questionnaires and interviews. Twenty-one directors and over 330 choir members across 15 choirs contributed to the research; sung responses to the imagery were examined in their rehearsal context and the data were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. The research established the types of imagery employed and whether and how they were understood by singers. The research defined what role imagery plays in choral directing and provided implications for choral directors' practice. This article focuses on three main questions:

  • What is verbal imagery?
  • What is the function of verbal imagery in choral rehearsals?
  • What are the implications for choral directors?

Imagery is influential in developing singers' understanding of the concepts involved in choral singing and in enabling singers to create and modify vocal sounds in response to their director's requests. Choral directors can employ these findings to inform their thinking and practice, combining imagery with other rehearsal techniques in the knowledge that it is a useful and effective strategy.

Key words choirs, rehearsal, imagery, directors, language, communication

Read the full article here