How to survive and make progress in choirs that use sheet music and vocal scores

The author’s intention in producing this booklet is that it will help you enjoy your singing – and it is important that you do. Singing is the stuff of life and can enrich a life beyond measure.

This is a wonderful beginner’s guide – it is not so much about showing you how to read music, but more about following the musical map and recognising the road signs. There is quite a lot you need to know about being a member of a choir, whether or not you are a music reader and this little book will more than point you in the right direction if you are completely new to this kind of singing – equally, it will serve as a reminder for those who have sung in a choir for some time. All the sections are really useful and full of good advice. There is also a handy glossary to de-mystify many of the terms you may encounter.

Derek Harrison is a singer and conductor of wide experience and all his advice is thoroughly practical and reliable, written in an easy-to-read style!

NEWLY REVISED : 2nd Edition

Available for £5.00 plus £1.00 P&P from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Contents include:

  • So what about being able to 'read music'?
  • Signs are better than words
  • The pencil
  • The 'voice part'
  • Reading the map
  • What is the conductor doing?
  • Why should I watch him/her?
  • Hired versus owned copies
  • When to mark the score
  • What markings to use
  • What is going on in rehearsals?
  • What to do between rehearsals
  • A note on 'note-bashing'
  • Glossary


Derek Harrison's intention, that this will help you enjoy your singing, is really important: after all, singing is the stuff of life, something which has enriched my life - all my life - beyond measure.

If you're looking for a beginner's guide, look no further!

Remember the words of that great 16th century English composer William Byrd, who said: "Since singing is so good a thing, wish all men would learn to sing."

That goes for women too! Read it, learn from it and enjoy!

Brian Kay
Principal Conductor of The Really Big Chorus, Musical Director of the Leith Hill Musical Festival and the Burford Singers, broadcaster and former King's Singer


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HCS Workshop on JS Bach's St Matthew Passion

This term we are singing JS Bach's St Matthew Passion and have our annual Workshop on the work on Saturday 29th February as part of our rehearsals. Visitors are welcome, but places are limited!

If you are interested in coming along and singing with HCS please contact our Membership Secretary, Trish Goldsmith, on 01992 589730 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   Don’t hesitate to ask any question at all.

We look forward to welcoming you to HCS! Click here for more news from Hertford Choral Society.

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