Rehearsal Aids

For learning parts:

Summertown Choral Society subscribes to the John Fletcher music website, which provides rehearsal files in a variety of formats to help singers learn their parts. New SCS members are automatically registered for the site and then receive an automated invitation to join it. You use your email address as your username and then set your own password. We now have our own page on the site, so once you have logged in, you type ‘summertown’ in the search box on the right, click on the ‘Summertown Choral Society’ banner that then appears on the left and our page will open up with all the music needed for our next concert listed. If you forget your password, you can reset it. If you encounter problems, or if you previously opted out and would now like to use the site, please contact our Membership Secretary at

The John Fletcher site allows you to single out your voice part (just the notes, but not the words), as well as to hear all voice parts together. It also allows some control over the speed. The site has the advantage of having together in one place all the music we will be singing at a concert, whereas other sites may not cover less well-known pieces.

Other rehearsal aids available free on the Internet will have only major works on them:

Chord Perfect is a new one that allows you to hear the different voice parts sung with the words. For example, here is Mozart’s C Minor Mass or the first Alto part in Handel’s The king shall rejoice.

CyberBass (for example, Haydn’s Nelson Mass or Handel’s Coronation Anthems) Here too you can hear your voice part singly or all parts together, but not with sung words. In addition, you can slow the music down or speed it up, for ease of learning.

Choralia (for example, Haydn’s Nelson Mass or Handel’s Zadok the Priest). Like CyberBass, you can hear your own voice part or hear all parts together. You can also slow the music down and speed it up. But it also offers a number of other features: you hear the words sung (albeit in a synthesized voice); you can hear your voice part with a metronome in the background; you can increase and decrease the volume of your voice part against the other parts; and you can move your voice part from right to left (presumably for use with earphones).

There is also ChoraLine, for which you will have to pay; and, which has some free files on YouTube (for example). Some members have found the recordings of Quintus Benziger, to be found at saffronchoral prompt, helpful; Quintus actually sings the voice parts.


There is an expectation that members will practise in between rehearsals. This is obviously important, not just for one’s own enjoyment, but also to make rehearsals more productive and less devoted to ‘note-bashing’. Details of what will be rehearsed appear on the next rehearsal page of the website by the end of the Friday following the Thursday rehearsal, so that members can focus their efforts.

For less experienced singers, a suggestion would be first to practise your own voice part alone, identifying difficult passages using the timers all sites have. Then, if you want to take things further, you could practise your part against the background of the other parts, and finally against the orchestra (via a CD – usually Duncan will recommend one – or a YouTube version).

To listen to a recording of virtually any work:

Naxos Music Library, provided by Oxfordshire County Libraries.

Image on this page © Mo Chandler