Organists Online

Free Resources for Organists

Home > Small-choirs > Oven Ready Anthems and Carols

Oven Ready,Oven Ready Plus
and Oven Ready Starred **
Anthems and Carols

Accessible Solutions for Churches with a
Small Choir or no Choir at all

Oven Ready, Oven Ready Plus, and Oven Ready Starred ** anthems and carols are intended for churches with a small choir or no choir at at all. They provide free, downloadable resources that enable a choir to perform simple music or, where no choir exists, the means whereby a person with just basic musical knowledge could gather a small choral group for service singing.

Oven Ready

These are conventionally arranged accompanied pieces, maybe for SA Men,or SSA, or unison. For each item there is:

  • a backing track - so that choirs are not dependent on having an accompanist present;
  • voice-specific rehearsal tracks - so that choristers can work at their notes in their own time.
  • often, a raw MIDI file, so that audio experts can change the tempo, pitch, or tone colour of any track.

Oven Ready Plus

As above, these pieces include a backing track and voice-specific rehearsal tracks. However, the arranging is less conventional. Also for each work, there is:

  • an Essential Part. This is the main melody which needs to be sung throughout the piece. For new choirs or groups, if they can manage this part, they are able to perform the work. It is placed at a pitch which most untrained singers can manage, without very high or very low notes.
  • an Optional Part. This is for singers who feel confident singing some harmony. It's not an upper part nor a lower part, but is written in the same general range at the Essential Part. The parts freely cross (rather like in a Medieval motet);
  • sometimes, a Second Optional Part, provided for more experienced singers with a greater range, or for men.
  • often, a raw MIDI file, so that audio experts can change the tempo, pitch, or tone colour of any track.

Oven Ready Starred **

In these arrangements, a mix of unison and harmony verses, the main melody is in the men's part. This makes it easier for men new to choral singing to be confidently involved in singing in parts, as they only have one set of notes to learn.

They are modular in design, so the performer chooses which interludes to play and when, and which verses to sing in unison or harmony. Also, using this principle, the number of pages of copying is restricted.

Best Usage

These arrangements are very simple and, for the sake of encouraging new choral groups and small choirs, attempt to avoid difficulties when possible. This does mean that, if a carol is several verses in length, the effect could become tedious.

A judicious use of resources could ameliorate this, such as:

  • Verse 1: unison;
  • Verse 2: Essential plus one of the Optional parts;
  • Verse 3: Essential plus the other Optional part
  • Verse 4: As written;
  • Or any other combination you can think of.

The complete harmony for each arrangement is in the accompaniment, so leaving one or more of the vocal parts out does not damage the musical effect. Similarly (and I'm putting this in for the nit-picking critics) the vocal parts are not intended to make perfect two or three part harmony in themselves; the idea of these arrangements is to make each part easily singable.

Other Resources

For fledgling choirs or people new to choral singing, the following might be of use:

  • The Singers' Toolkit I. [LINK]. This is a basic guide to choral singing for adults who have little experience or are not used to singing from printed music.
  • The Singers' Toolkit II. [LINK]. For singers who are not confident that they are singing the same notes as the rest of the choir, this site includes comprehensive exercises for practising matching pitch (singing in tune).

If someone is thinking of starting a choir but has little experience of choral training, this could be helpful:

  • The Choir Trainers' Toolkit. [LINK], which builds upon the knowledge in The Singers' Toolkit and provides further information about conducting, rehearsals, and even simple arranging.

RETURN to the list of all pieces.