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Freshen up your choir for the year ahead

There’s nothing like a new season for reflecting on your choir and how you will inspire and excite your singers (and yourself) in the months ahead. Here are five areas to consider as you go into a new phase with your choir.

Building your skills

Running a choir takes lots of time and energy. Is your own development and learning getting neglected because of this? Think about the things you’d like to know or experience and put them into action. Perhaps you want to develop your knowledge of a particular area of music. You may want to learn more about the anatomy of the voice. Maybe you want to try a different style of music. Whatever your ambition spend a little time researching workshops, online courses or books which can help you develop and expand your knowledge. This will be a great confidence boost to you and inspire you for new projects which in turn will enrich your singers’ experience in the choir.

Effective rehearsing

Without the pressure of rehearsals during the holidays, have a think about how they run, how they feel and take into consideration any feedback you’ve been given. Are there areas upon which you can improve? Does something not quite work that could be easily changed to make things run more smoothly? It’s very easy to just keep on doing things the way they’ve always been done but sometimes a few changes can add a fresh new feel to a rehearsal. Think about the room layout in your venue, any breaks you have during the session, the way you carry out administration, the way you teach repertoire. Developing new ideas can create new enthusiasm and make your job as choir leader all the more easier and enjoyable.

Getting ideas

Now is the time to have a look at new repertoire whether that’s online, from your own music collection or suggestions from choir members. Have a good listen to some music and plan ahead. It may be you want to take your choir in a new direction even if this is only for a one-off project. Challenge yourself and your singers and help them to expand their musical repertoire with different styles. Think about what your choir has achieved in the previous year and what the next step is. For example, you may have worked hard developing harmony skills – why not try an unaccompanied piece this year to build upon that?

Inspiring your singers

Now is definitely the time to think of new ideas and performance opportunities for the year ahead. Don’t just automatically opt for the same events you have taken part in in previous years, or if you do think of ways to change things so that there is a fresh approach. Remember, just because you have always done a certain event doesn’t mean you always have to. Feel free and think about what would really excite you and the choir. It may be you want to perform further afield, do an exchange visit with another choir or a spontaneous flash mob. Think big and think outside the box.

Looking after yourself

If you felt exhausted at the end of the previous year, think of ways you can prevent that from happening going forward. Take time to do activities you enjoy that will keep you happy and focused when it comes to working with your choir. Perhaps you can ask for some help with administration, dealing with enquiries or other tasks. You may have overloaded yourself with performances in which case maybe your singers felt the same. Less can definitely be more and fewer carefully selected events may be the best option.

Whatever changes you decide to make, good luck!

6 Responses to Freshen up your choir for the year ahead

  1. Rabbi 6 January 2017 at 10:07 am #

    God bless you guys l have been blessed

  2. Richard Nott 6 January 2017 at 10:07 am #

    Hi Christine. I always look forward to Fridays and your weekly email. I run a church choir which has a different function and repertoire than the choirs the you run. Recruiting is also more difficult, and our ‘fixture list’ is more or less the same each year. A lot of the ideas you come up with I take and adapt for my choir, but there are some that I just can’t run with. Do you have any ideas that are aimed specifically at church choirs that I could use to freshen up rehearsals?

    Many thanks, and Happy New Year!

    • Christine Mulgrew 6 January 2017 at 7:11 pm #

      Hi Richard,

      Thanks for your message, I’m pleased you enjoy the weekly newsletter. With regards to your query I’m afraid that I don’t have any direct experience of running a church choir. However, thinking from a point of view of a fixture list that is less easy to change, I have a few ideas focusing on the rehearsals and social elements of the choir.

      Firstly, I wondered about mixing up positions when rehearsing the repertoire. This will enable your choir to experience different sounds as they hear different voices around them. Also, you could add a new regular element to the rehearsal which will help your singers broaden their vocal techniques whilst enjoying some teambuilding. This element could be something like simple three or four part short pieces in harmony to help work on holding parts and blending. If you’re feeling adventurous you could also encourage singers to work together creating short improvised pieces using several repeated parts which blend together. Finally, to inspire your singers why not look at organising a trip to see another choir perform a choral work or look for an event you can take part in where multiple choirs come together to sing.

      I hope this helps, good luck for your choir year ahead.

  3. Richard Nott 9 January 2017 at 12:15 pm #

    Hi Christine,

    Thanks so much for your reply. These are great ideas, and I’ll be giving them a go. My choir consists of 12 ladies of varying abilities and timbre (our parish is very multi-cultural and there are some very strong Nigerian/ West Indian voices that need taming. Any ideas would be most helpful!), and tuning is often a problem, particularly with the altos. Extra work on holding parts and blending is certainly on mu to-do list.

    Best wishes for your choral activities.

    Richard

  4. Anne 15 January 2017 at 9:30 am #

    Dear Christine, your website is just what I need.
    I lead a community choir that is ‘managed’ by a committee and who’s members have the final say in decision making.
    Mixed ability, varied ideas and challenging requests/demands make for interesting sessions.
    I find that most of the members want to sing, socialise and raise funds for local causes. However, a minority want to lead from the back…………..
    Your guides remind me of why I do this and certainly give me the tools to support my decision making.
    THANK YOU

    • Christine Mulgrew 16 January 2017 at 10:19 am #

      Hi Anne,

      So glad you’ve found Total Choir Resources. Sounds like you have a few challenges but nothing that you can’t overcome. It can be hard when lots of people are telling you what your choir should be like. Stay strong, stay confident and be yourself and you’ll be absolutely fine. There’s lots of info on the site which can help you plan your rehearsals, repertoire and give you help on how to deal with any issues that arise effectively and confidently.

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