So you’ve decided to take the plunge and start a choir. You’re probably feeling a mix of excitement, nerves and anticipation and your head is probably full of all sorts of ideas. So where do you start? Here are four big questions to ask yourself:
What kind of choir do I want to lead?
This is definitely the first thing to ask yourself when embarking on a new choir project. There are so many different types of choirs; some are formal and audition their singers, some are more community-based and are open to all, regardless of ability. You may have a specific demographic in mind, perhaps informed by the type of music that you want to sing.
Another issue to consider is size. Are you looking to create a large choir or a smaller one? You may not have all the answers as yet but having well thought out ideas about what you are trying to create and who you are trying to target will help you bring and shape your ideas together to make them a reality.
Be careful to mix dreams with a healthy dose of reality. Think about your plans in terms of your location and those living in your community, as well as your own musical background and experience. What type of choir will prove successful? What type of choir will you enjoy leading and be able to manage? Of course, things will change and develop, but you need to start from a realistic place in order to get started at all.
What music will I cover and how will my singers learn the music?
It’s important to consider the type of repertoire you wish to cover carefully. You may have a real passion for something specific, such as baroque music or musical theatre. However, by being too specific you will risk limiting your potential pool of singers to those who share your musical passion. It might be better, at least in the early days, to give yourself a wide range of music to choose from. For example, the choir I run is a contemporary choir which covers rock and pop from the 1960’s onward. This gives me a wide scope for choosing music and means I can appeal to all tastes with a wide range of repertoire.
Once you have decided on the style of music consider how your singers will learn. Will you provide scores for them or will they learn by ear? If you plan to audition singers so that you know they have an existing level of musical skill, then scores may be appropriate. If your choir is based largely on novice singers with no previous musical experience, a score may overwhelm them and you may find they learn more easily by ear.
Where will I hold my rehearsals?
Location is key when setting up a choir. Ideally, you want a venue which is central in your community, easy to access with good parking and/or public transport options. When looking at a potential venue, think about the space not just initially but as you grow your choir. Is it well lit? Warm? Clean? Are there good toilet facilities? A kitchen? Think about a potential venue from the point of view of your singers. Would you be happy and comfortable rehearsing there each week? Don’t forget to consider the cost of hiring the venue. How many singers would you need to see each week to cover costs?
How will I entice singers to come along?
There are many ways of launching a new choir. At the very least, some well-designed posters placed around your community will help to spark people’s interest. You may find this is enough, and with a few members enrolled, word of mouth will then soon start bringing in lots more people. However, you could consider a range of advertising methods such using social media, local newspaper articles or ads on local radio. You may want to visit community groups or schools to make an announcement about the new choir. Perhaps you could consider offering a free taster session or an open rehearsal to kick things off.