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Recommendations: Messiah part tapes

Dear colleagues --

My apologies for not getting this out sooner. It's been sitting in my "Drafts" file for some time.


My original query:
"I am considering a performance of Handel's "Messiah" for next December. I would like to hear which choral training CD's have worked best for your group, prices, and whether or not they use real singers or synthesizer for the vocal and instrumental parts. I have a very skittish community choir and this would be an important part of our preparation. Thank you for taking the time to respond.

Thank you to Ginny Siggia, David Griggs-Janower, Ned Wetherald, Celia (Aloha!), Allen Simon, Rod Mather, and Jay Carter.

We used Hammond Music Service and their sample is from Messiah. I suggest you contact them (hms(a) and check out their website (

Ironically, by the time we actually ordered the learning material, we pretty much had the music mastered -- it wasn't nearly as difficult as we anticipated! (Have you considered telling your singers to get a recording of Messiah, and sit down with it and their scores, and just do some note bashing? Might be more fun than note bashing.)

I've used the Berskhire Choral Festival tapes (I believe they send a cassette
still, and I put it on CD) because they have a live quartet of singers
singing, the actual notes, the words, etc. No synthesized sound. And the
soprano and tenor are on the left channel and the alto and bass on the right,
so you can actually hear your part pretty well by adjusting the balance. It
costs about $30 or so and you get permission to duplicate as many as you need.

The down side is that the singers are human, and not necessarily singing in a
style you might want your signers to emulate. So if style is a consideration,
you might not want them for Handel. But if you want notes and rhythms, these
work really well.

They will *love* the one put out by
It's a professional chorus with professional orchestra with each part professionally sung on a separate track. If I remember correctly, the website has demo excerpts.
Good luck!

I'd strongly recommend Rehearsal Arts' versions. They hired real singers to sing individual parts accompanied by a commercial recording with orchestra which they licensed for the purpose.

Rehearsal Arts is a partner of ChoralNet.

May I declare my interest that I operate and own the Note Perfect Web site web site, that has reasonably priced training CDs for
the complete Messiah (as well as other choral works). There are downloads
for you to be able to hear. While they are produced on a synthesizer, we
consider that they are good quality. Each CD has the complete orchestration
with the vocal part highlighted on piano. There is also a CD to further
enhance confidence once the part has been learned, that has no piano
highlight. In making the training aids we felt that the music had to be good
to listen to otherwise people would tire of listening to them, and not sound
like a laborious exercise in learning, and we believe that we have achieved
the goal. You will notice from the "Where are they now" section in the
recommendations area just how far around the world our CD's have been used,
as well as some comments from our clients.

In addition, we believe that we are the only source of training CDs on the
net that allows you to just buy one copy (or set) and copy them to your
choir without any further cost. We believe that this provides a cost
effective way for a whole choir. I invite you to look at the site and review
the available downloads and the license to copy. If you are interested
please note that buying a "parts set" is at a reduced cost to purchasing the
individual parts.
I don't know much about these, but I've a colleague who has used these, and swears by them.

I used the "Do It Yourself Messiah" published by Hal Leonard with my skittish community chorus. Those that used it seemed to think it was very helpful.


"I'm young, I'm wild, and I'm free;
I've got the magic power of the music in me!"

-- Canadian rock band, Triumph

Craig C. Hawkins
Endwell Community Chorus,
The Celebration Choir at
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Endwell, NY USA
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on May 11, 2006 10:00pm
We've used Part Predominant Recordings including the magnificent works of John Rutter, the time honored compositions of Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Brahms et al and contemporary octavos celebrating diversity and world music. They are all performed by careful and talented singers ensuring accuracy for part learning. Particularly useful for ensembles facing limited rehearsal time (I have spent 40 years working with choirs in this setting) such as All State, Regional Honor Choirs, Community Choirs, Church Choirs and all levels of school choirs. I've heard groups come together beautifully in a very short time using the Part Predominant Recordings part learning tapes and CDs. Real live singers always make the difference. The tapes range in style from the "oratorical" style to the clear sound of the contemporary sounds which require a more modern sound. The accompaniments are absolutely terrific. Fine quality at an affordable price.
on March 11, 2007 10:00pm
There are some excellent downloads of the 20 chorus's (SATB) for the Messiah (among others) available cheaply for download at the following links by an artist called Transform Studios. Quality is great and the performances are very professional and expressive. You can audition them by clicking on each track.