Ways to learn the music

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Where can I buy scores for your concerts?

Most of the works we sing are readily available, and for each event we tell you exactly what edition to buy and who publishes it; your local library may also be able to help. We encourage you to buy from your local music shop (if you are lucky enough still to have one); if you want to order by phone or email we recommend Blackwell’s Music in Oxford (53 Broad Street, Oxford OX1 3BQ). This is a specialist music store with extremely knowledgeable staff who will be delighted to supply members of The Really Big Chorus with scores for our concerts and trips at 10% discount (just mention us when you call). Please telephone them on 01865 333582 and ask to speak to Peter McMullin.

The shop is open seven days a week, and you can also email your order to them at printed.music@blackwell.co.uk. Include all relevant details in the email (name, address, which scores you want to order, including the edition if known, and mention that you are singing with The Really Big Chorus if you want to claim the discount). Include a telephone number where you can be contacted during office hours. However, please do not include credit-card details as these should only ever be sent over the Internet via a secure connection where the data can be encrypted. Personal email is hardly ever secure.

How do I learn the music?

Because we work on very few rehearsals (none at all for Messiah from Scratch®!) we have to rely on singers learning their part at home or with their own choir. With so many people singing, our concerts are ideal for less confident singers, but everyone should do their best to learn the notes before they arrive.  If you don’t bother at all, it limits your own enjoyment and may also be very trying for the singers around you  who have spent time on their homework. There are plenty of learning aids available to help you if your music reading lacks confidence (see other FAQs).

We also publish chorus notes. These are available to download for each RAH concert and contain instructions for you to copy into your score before you start to learn the music.

If there is a lot of division within a voice-part (divisi), the booking form will reflect this and ask you which part you want to sing. If the divisi is minimal, the booking form will not differentiate. The advice then is to learn whichever part you wish, and the chorus notes will usually cover this. If they don’t, we may have  made a mistake, someone will point it out, and the chorus notes will be changed! Check for updates on the page specific to the event in question, or download the most recent version of the chorus notes; if you are still uncertain, please email members@trbc.co.uk or write to PO Box 4211, Bath BA1 0HJ. 

Reasonably confident music readers, with a good ear, can sing along with any performance CDs (widely available from all music shops or online), or using one of the music streaming services like Spotify.

Can we buy practice CDs or downloads?

For less experienced singers there are plenty of sophisticated resources available from various suppliers, where your individual vocal line is brought out from the texture enabling you to hear it more clearly. We recommend the comprehensive range of rehearsal material created by ChoraLine: the company has produced an app giving access to hundreds of sound-files at the click of a button – find out more about this at https://www.choralineapp.com/ where you can download the app for your particular device.

ChoraLine also produce ‘Easy Play’ learning files for the different voice parts available in MP3 format; the same content is also produced as CDs distributed by Presto Music. Visit https://www.prestomusic.com/sheet-music; into the search box key Choraline, followed by the name of a composer or a work, and a list of available titles will come up. Presto will also supply ChoraLine’s ‘Three Steps to Sing’ programme – a comprehensive learning tool for anyone needing to learn Handel’s Messiah

You can also find lots of sound files on YouTube, some of which show your vocal line on the screen synchronised with the audio file.

Are there special instructions for TRBC performances?

A set of musical instructions (Chorus Notes) is published for each concert; details include breathing, note lengths extra dynamics and where to stand/sit. A single copy is sent with the acknowledgement of your order, and you can download more copies at any time from the relevant concert page on our website.  When we send your tickets (just a few weeks before the concert), we send multiple copies of the Chorus Notes for everyone in your party.

If there is a lot of division within a voice-part (divisi), the booking form will reflect this and ask you which part you want to sing. If the divisi is minimal, the booking form will not differentiate. The advice then is to learn whichever part you wish, and the Chorus Notes will usually cover this. Sometimes an instruction is changed, and we update the Chorus Notes: check for updates on the relevant concert page and make sure you have the most recent version; if you are still uncertain, please write to PO Box 4211, Bath BA1 0HJ or email members@trbc.co.uk.