Buddy System

About the Buddy System

  • We’ve been pairing up singers in Common Thread pretty much since the beginning of the choir and it has really helped the choir
  • The idea is rooted in our belief that everyone can sing

About the role of the helpers

  • The idea is for you to give each other encouragement, support, and feedback and help the new singer into the choir.

Some ways you can help:

  • Musical help – help reading score, help with pitch or rhythm, etc.
  • Encouragement and confidence building – positive feedback
  • Social integration into the choir – making sure they are getting all the information they need about rehearsals, helping them meet others in the section, etc.
  • You and your buddy can work out between you what your relationship will entail:
    • Occasional help in rehearsal
    • Consistent help in rehearsal
    • Additional help outside rehearsal

NOTE: It is up to you to set the limits- you should only give as much time and attention as you feel comfortable with

  • You and your buddy can also figure out how long the relationship needs to last. Some buddies work together until the Christmas break; others keep their pairing until the end of the year.  If you wish to be kept together through the blending session, just let Isabel know.
  • If you have concerns or questions, you should speak to your musical section leader, the assistant conductor, or Isabel

How To Help:


Sometimes there is a stigma for people who have trouble matching pitch or rhythm. Part of our goal is to help remove that stigma. It’s okay to talk in a matter-of-fact way about the kinds of difficulty they have – the best way to improve is to get consistent positive feedback. Be supportive and encouraging, but as much as possible, try to be direct.

  1. Listen! Try to identify what the problem is before offering help
    • Some people sing very well within a limited range – once a melody goes above or beyond that range they have trouble
    • Some people have trouble finding the starting note – their relative pitch is fine, but since they start on a different note, they sound out of pitch
    • Some people have trouble when they have to sing certain intervals
    • Some people confuse “higher” and “lower” with softer and louder
    • Some people have no problem matching pitch but have trouble keeping a beat and following rhythm
    • Some people don’t realize that when they are singing in pitch with a group, their voice will actually “disappear” because it is blending
    • Most people simply need a little more confidence – maybe they get pulled along with another section or they are not sure of certain parts. You can help assure them that they are doing okay and help them identify where they might need extra work.
  1. Give Feedback
    • “It goes a little higher there” or “Our part starts a little later than that”
  1. Ask Questions
    • “Do you want me to tell you when you are off pitch?”
    • “Can you hear where you are missing the rhythm?”
    • “Sometimes you’re getting it right and sometimes you’re missing a little bit. Can you tell when you’re on or off pitch?”
  1. Be Positive!
    • Everyone can improve
    • It sounds corny, but it really helps to say, “that’s right.” Or, “sounds good.”

Other ways to support each other

  • Sit next to each other. In most cases, both buddies are the same sub-section (e.g., Alto 1, Alto 2). Save a seat for each other.  Your music section leaders are aware of the buddies and support this seating arrangement.
  • Listen to each other. If you are comfortable, move (turn your head towards each other, or lean over a bit) to hear each other clearly.  Check in with each other to see if you both thought the passage went well.
  • Help each other with score notations. Many of us don’t read music.  Isabel has given helpful hints about how to interpret the score and little symbols to write.  If one of you misses a rehearsal be sure to check in for updates.
  • Check with each other and others. If a passage of music is particularly puzzling to both of you, mark that section and, in a break, ask those around you for help.  Sometimes just asking someone “What’s the starting note?” for a passage will get you both on the right track.
  • Help with logistics information. There is so much that is new with joining the choir.  Returning singers can check to make sure that new singers know the locations of sectional rehearsals and concert venues and offer tips about the venue (transportation, location of washrooms, restaurants, temperature, footwear, etc.).
  • Share your stories about singing and making music. One way to get to know each other and figure out how to support each other is to talk about past experience with singing.  Talk about what singing, if any, you’ve done in the past, and any other experiences with making music.

Original text by Eve Goldberg

Adaptations for Common Thread Community Chorus 2012-13 season by Isabel Bernaus and Catherine Mahler

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