Yes we do. In past posts, I have discussed how listening to a piece of music can help get the idea of the sound of the printed music in your choir's heads.
I think it is really important to help get the idea of the sound right but also to help your choir create a dream for how they will feel while singing and how they want the audience to perceive the piece.
1. What are the perceptions? - When you bring a piece of music to the choir, some may have preconceived ideas about what the song means. It could be what happened to them when they first heard it or experiences that the song brings to mind. One of the activities I think is really important is to read the words. When you do that, it gives you the chance to ask what they choir might think they mean. In hearing what others think, it might expand the ideas of those with a negative feeling. It is important that if someone doesn't say something but shows feelings with facial or other expressions that you have a wee chat.
2. Share YOUR dream - Yup. As a leader or a singer, you need to share your dream for this song. I am convinced that as a director, I must know what I want from this piece. I want it to be prayerful, or fun, or make them want to dance or cry. If the choir doesn't agree, they will tell me. If your dream is clear, it makes it so much easier for your singers to work towards that vision.
3. Be prepared to be flexible - When the choir is sharing ideas or during a performance, I sometimes have a revelation. My dream is not the best one for this song sometimes. I must be able to see and understand alternatives. The singers must do the same. Bringing inflexible interpretations by leaders or singers can be really detrimental to a song being well done.
Perhaps the most important part is to be able to hear the finished song before you even start. In saying that, you have to be willing to hear it differently as you progress. Enjoy this journey. It really is the key to making the music come alive.